Our sedate, old-fashioned neighborhood has a new kid on the block. It’s the futuristic building at 816 Beloit. To the casual eye, the sleek two-story building looks like a two-flat, but it’s really a single-family home. Its modern design is unlike anything in this part of town. The building has created some controversy among neighbors. Some are admirers while others claim, “It doesn’t fit in.” I, for one, think it’s time Forest Park embraced 21st-century architecture. 

The current owners certainly find it comfortable. Mike Lingo and Uma Kandaswamy purchased the property after the building was completed in September 2015. Mike is a chef and food scientist, who travels extensively for McDonald’s Corp. Uma is a stay-at-home data scientist for Monsanto. They were looking for new construction, when they saw the house online. They also liked the location, a mix of city/suburban living, close to downtown and the airport.

Uma is a native of India, who has traveled extensively in the U.S. and overseas. He was living in Detroit when Mike beckoned him to Forest Park. Mike had already lived in town for seven years and fell in love with Forest Park. He has also traveled a good deal and the house is decorated with artwork they collected in China, Mexico, Australia and India.

Apart from their taste in art, the pair admires the architecture of their new home. Uma likens it the cubist style, pioneered by Picasso. 

“It’s totally modern and minimalistic. It’s simplistic and functional,” he said. The first floor has an open plan. “If they could get away without a wall, they did it,” It’s one big room from front to back, with huge windows creating a “fishbowl” effect. 

The living room flows into the kitchen, which has plenty of storage in cabinets and drawers to accommodate their supplies and utensils. They do their food shopping down the block at Ed’s Way and hope to plant a vegetable garden soon. When they don’t feel like cooking, there’s always Smokey Joel’s next door for a beef or hot dog.

The building was constructed using green-certified materials and is ultra-energy-efficient. To Uma, it represents a “change in the way we interact with the environment.” He sees recycling and energy conservation as being on the rise in the U.S. Being home most of the day also makes him grateful for the natural light that floods the house, morning to evening. 

The sunlight is especially strong in the master bedroom upstairs, which has wraparound windows. It’s very important to the pair to have the sleeping quarters on a separate floor from their living space. They have a spare bedroom, which is dedicated as a shrine to their adorable Pug, Yoda. They also have a bedroom and workout room in the basement. 

Thanks to the home’s bold design, it draws people from the neighborhood, who are very curious. Uma answers their questions. “It’s liberating to be different,” he said. He also sees Forest Park as being refreshingly “different.” 

“Forest Park has more mom-and-pop businesses, like Scratch, Exit Strategy and Yearbook,” he noted. “It’s an entrepreneurial and creative community.”

Mike gives credit to the architect for “thinking outside the box.” 

Actually, he had to think outside the box, in order to build a “box.” Lastly, the home is equipped with a sprinkler system. This is comforting to longtime residents, like me, who remember the ramshackle frame that once occupied 816 Beloit, going up in flames. 

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.