CHICAGO (CBS) — Not all of us found our life’s calling at an early age.

But Nick Lorenzen of west suburban La Grange sure has. At just 16, he’s already on his way to becoming an architect.

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CBS 2’s Ryan Baker reports the teen just won a big-time award.

“It combines a lot of interesting things. There’s the artistic element of designing a beautiful building. Also you can try to address real world problems.”

And that’s exactly what Nick Lorenzen did in the entry that won him a 2021 Newhouse Architecture and Design Award. It showcases a multi-family home that would be made from shipping containers.

“If you could use those containers, that could save both a lot of money as well as the environmental impact,” Lorenzen said.

The assignment was to design affordable housing for neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides. Lorenzen’s design for the Austin community uses several containers on two floors. There’s also a large, open space and a rooftop garden where residents could grow and sell their own food.

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“That can both provide additional source of income. It would really impact the community to have affordable and easy access to fruits and vegetables and health foods,” Lorenzen said.

The parents of the 16-year-old said their talented son’s love of architecture started when he was a toddler.

“When he was little, we had to make sure there was a pad in the back seat of the car. He was constantly drawing stuff,” said father Don Lorenzen.

And Nick’s written description of his project also helped him win the prestigious Newhouse prize.

“His explanation was concise, to the point, very clear, well understood and sincere,” said Kennda Mims-Burt, Manager of Teen Programs at the Chicago Architecture Center.

“One of the things I like about architecture is that if you do it well, you can impact the world in a positive way,” Lorenzen said. “So that would be pretty incredible.”

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Nick’s award-winning design was just a model, but he said if it ever does get built, that would be “a huge honor.”