Limitless Coffee & Tea is a new beverage startup which emphasizes the clean and detox-free processes used for the coffee beans and beverages. Inspired by their forward-thinking approach and cutting-edge technology in their product offerings, the team created a space that conveys this approach through the interior space of the flagship location in the Fulton Market section of the West Loop neighborhood in Chicago. The design team was enlisted to be involved with the client from the early beginning. Before a product was even developed, the team was able to help influence the look of the product conjoined with a space through initial conceptual studies. The greatest challenged faced was rooted in the brand’s identity, and designing a physical space that speaks to the clean, pure, and minimalistic nature of the brand, while still having character and feel inviting. By introducing color and geometric pattern play into the space, in addition to soft textures in upholstery and acoustical wall panels, along with natural wood, the design team was able to counter the pure white airiness with a sense of excitement, warmth, and artistic fun, colloquial to the Limitless identity. The design took off by attempting to create a space that leaves one of a higher mental feeling through the use of natural daylight and an emphasis on spatial verticality. The result is a slick coffee bar outfitted with high performance equipment all housed within a light, airy and minimalistic space. The cafe overall was designed to perform as an alternative location to working in an office by providing areas for both individuals to work and groups to gather and meet. There are a variety of seating types mixed throughout the plan to appeal to. Nearly every seat in the cafe is equip with power outlets and some tables offer marker boards for ideas creation. The meeting table towards the back of the cafe has both a large magnetic glass dry-erase board as well as a wall-mounted TV open for anyone to use for presentations. At this flagship Fulton Market location, the team designed a central skylight to flood the space with daylight and cast sun shadows on a colored glass focal wall as a dynamic art installation. The coffee bean roasting process is also on display and occurs behind a steel-frame and glass barrier as a way to showcase the honest approach to the coffee making process, while making a slight design nod to the historic Fulton Market District. The Limitless brand itself has introduced a unique product line to the consumer market, coupled with an identity that promotes inspiration and collaboration for all those who seek happiness and success, no matter the goal. The cafe space was designed to foster these idealistic notions, finally offering a food and beverage concept for thinkers, dreamers, experimenters, and every day hard-workers. Whether or not guests leave with a feeling of being ‘Limitless’, most would agree that this is not just your average neighborhood coffee shop. The flagship Fulton Market cafe is its own destination to venture for a visit. Aria Group has successfully helped Limitless open two additional cafe locations of different sizes this year, proving the scalability of the concept. The second location opened in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, and the third opened within an office lobby space on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.
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Unique and interactive environmental branding was a key design element. Bringing the client's brand and mission to life within their space was a priority in order to bring their company culture and values to life . A communication stair was constructed to connect the two floors, creating a centralized social hub for all-hands meetings and member gatherings.
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The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s (ABPN) new two-story headquarters supports the organization’s growth by providing modern offices and upgraded, functional spaces to host forums with practitioners from around the country. The design creates a national home that reflects the organization’s mission and leadership in the industry. Through the front entrance, a glazed floor-to-ceiling wall frames views to a private courtyard and the lake beyond, illustrating the indoor/outdoor theme of the project. A floating communicating stair made of glass and white quartz connects the ground floor of forum and training session spaces with the second floor comprised of offices and administrative support. Adjacent to the lobby, four 300 sf conference rooms and a 3,000 sf multipurpose room host forums and training sessions. Completing the first floor is a reception area, 1,000 sf café, and four smaller ‘focus’ rooms to facilitate breakout conversations. Clean lines balanced by rich walnut finishes create an open and welcoming environment for the first floor spaces. A variety of textures, such as carrara marble quartz in the reception desk, chiseled stone in the café, and velvet furniture, softens the sleek architectural elements and complements the warmth of the wood. Due to the building’s L-shaped configuration, the private offices on the second floor all have access to natural daylight and views. A conference room, huddle rooms, and a break room also occupy the second floor. These areas feature inviting design elements through the vibrant artwork and furniture selection. To serve the wide variety of ABPN’s forum sizes, durations, and types, adaptability of use was a necessity. The lobby serves as the main arrival space, but can convert into a dining space in the evening. The multipurpose room can adapt from one large room to two smaller rooms that may host a variety of uses easily and quickly with multifunctional furniture and AV solutions to suit conference, classroom, lectures, and dinners. Future expansion space was also an integral part of the layout. ABPN’s new headquarters reinforces their exceptional work and continuing legacy within the profession.
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As Google continues to expand in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, they found themselves in need of not only more workspace, but additional conferencing facilities to host technology training sessions. Without compromising the daily individual or teamwork processes, the workplace security, the uniquely-Google fit out or the deeply-rooted, Chicago-branded conceptual design direction; a significant challenge presented itself relative to accommodating the new assembly space within a working floor. The latest 60,000-square-foot project needed to feel as if it was a natural member of the building’s existing Google community. Google’s chief objective with any project is the optimum well-being of their employees. Great care is taken to nurture the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual parts of each Googler in order to ensure they are happy, creative and productive. Relative to design, this is a welcome challenge; it presents opportunities to analyze and reinterpret the spaces we create in order to provide the most effective environments in which the Googlers work and play. Conceptually, Google maintains deep roots in Chicago, as each floor is tied to a specific theme that celebrates the city’s rich heritage. This project is no different, focusing on Chicago inventions within the construction, technology and entertainment genres. References to balloon framing, steel skyscraper structures, color televisions, mobile phones and amusement park roller coaster cars make their way through the floor plan, defining boundary and function of space with the appropriate level of function, whimsy and creativity. At the core of each Google space is the micro-kitchen and working lounge, which functions as the central social hub and arrival point of the floor. The hub of the space is the organically shaped service island that houses an abundance of healthy food and drink choices, complete with a backlit laser-cut metal relief of the Ferris wheel, another Chicago invention. The variety of seating options address singular and group scenarios alike. The serpentine banquette with exposed structural framing, softly sculptured recessed niches, semi-private nooks and open collaboration areas all strike a perfect balance of productivity, respite, socializing and the bold and colorful Google brand. The unique programmatic requirement of added conferencing space for technology training sessions presented another opportunity for design latitude. Once again referencing a Chicago benchmark, the concept of the row house was used to design and develop differently sized and placed rooms, creating a more dynamic and undulating rhythm within the space. Much like row houses, there is a uniform and cohesive design language but subtlety in each to provide some individuality. An exterior building cladding material was used in slightly different colors, textures and sizes to accomplish this, with exposed connections to reflect the industrial nature of the building and subsequent Google design language. A second and equally spacious micro-kitchen was developed to accommodate both the large floor plate size and the overflow of the added number of Googlers within the new conferencing area. A more hospitable and lounge-like approach was taken with this space, taking advantage of exterior views to Fulton Market and incorporating more soft seating, a billiard table, and a feature wall of reclaimed wood and biophilia, bringing a soft, natural component into an urban area and industrial environment. Anchoring the space is a double-sided blue brick fireplace within a glass and black metal warehouse window wall, providing a glimpse into the intimate blues lounge beyond. Taking inspiration from the traditional Chicago blues bars of the past, comfortable sofas, areas rugs, upholstered lounge chairs and cocktail tables fill the room. Historic Chicago blues super graphics line the walls and a small bar is nestled in the corner beneath the moody industrial lighting and traditional tin ceiling. The open office area provides almost limitless choices relative to workstyles. Located along the curtain wall to provide as much exposure to natural light as possible, all workstations are fitted with a sit-to-stand desk surface in order to foster a healthier approach to singular heads down efforts. Situated along the core of the building and conveniently located between the neighborhoods created by the workstation groups, breakout areas are designed to function as highly collaborative and energetic epicenters, defined by a steel tube open framing system with integrated acoustical panels, boldly colored carpet, decorative light fixtures and an abundant length of whiteboard. At the end of circulation paths and visual vistas are some unique and irreverent Chicago artifacts, such as restored cars from the original Riverview amusement park and a vintage shuffleboard table rescued from an old Chicago tavern. As a final Chicago touch, local graffiti artists were invited to come in and create one-of-a-kind pieces on walls lining circulation paths, providing visual relief from enclosed office space and injecting a bit of levity and interest into the Googlers’ workday. The sum total of the design effort is a space that is holistically healthy, resourceful, educational, sustainable, optimally functional and most importantly, uniquely Google.
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Our scope within the XS Tennis project was to design the entry reception area, the Pro Shop, staff offices, student classrooms, mezzanine lounge, locker rooms & restrooms, as well as the clubhouse at the outdoor courts. One of our favorite elements of this project was the opportunity to incorporate millwork & lighting donations salvaged from IIDA’s Headquarters in the Merchandise Mart. When IIDA HQ moved out & the demo of their existing space began, we jumped in to save as much material as possible. The millwork ended up being incorporated into the reception desk, and at the mezzanine level juice bar. The light fixtures also ended up in the mezzanine, adding a much needed decorative accent to the general lighting. With our emphasis on sustainability, we love the opportunity to save materials from the landfill, and give them a second life on a non-profit construction project in need! One of the first design challenges we faced on this project was how to integrate the two forms of educational mentoring taking place within XS Tennis Village - academics & sports. Kids who attend XS Tennis Village receive academic tutoring, as well as tennis lessons. Our approach was to create an integrated experience through site lines & various learning-style spaces. In the Academic Wing, we created flexible classrooms that can be divided for smaller or larger group learning. Private staff offices were designed to enhance a one-on-one tutoring experience. The mezzanine level lounge, which overlooks the indoor tennis courts, allows for a more relaxed & comfortable atmosphere that may be more conducive to learning for certain individuals. Allowing visual access to the tennis courts in both the group classrooms & from the mezzanine, links the physical training to the intellectual. Additionally, an elevated catwalk along the 12 indoor courts gives parents their own space to watch their child develop through the positive reinforcement of organized sport. Our second greatest challenge that came later on in the project related to FF&E. With our goal of securing as much donated material as possible, making finishes & colors correlate in a cohesive way can be a challenge. For instance, we were tracking most grey, green, and blue as our color scheme for materials & furniture. At the final hour, a large furniture donation introduced the color red. To ensure we didn’t miss out on using a large donation, we had to get creative for alternative ways to incorporate red. We had a light fixture donation with a red film on the drum. We were intending to peel off the film to create a more neutral-colored fixture. Instead, we utilized those fixtures as-is to pull in additional red in the space. We also introduced red accessories as a way to accent the new donation. The total cost savings to XS Tennis was $232,382 in donated design time and materials.
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The headquarters for Chervon, the power tool company behind the well-known Skilsaw and Ego Brands, is a warehouse, testing lab, showroom and collaborative workspace all in one. By using materials typically used in the construction and home improvement industries in unexpected ways, the design reinforces Chervon’s slogan of “Creating better tools, for a better world.” The headquarters for Chervon, the power tool company behind the well-known Skilsaw and Ego Brands, is a warehouse, testing lab, showroom and collaborative workspace all in one. By using materials typically used in the construction and home improvement industries in unexpected ways, the design reinforces Chervon’s slogan of “Creating better tools, for a better world.” The warm and neutral color palette is mostly made up of concrete, wood, glass and turf to facilitate a homey ambiance while also serving as a backdrop for the industry-leading brands Chervon represents. A variety of Brand Rooms, video editing suites and product showcase spaces allow Chervon to feature their products in an impactful way. Chervon, a rapidly growing tools manufacturer, wanted to establish a headquarters presence in the US. A company that relies on its speed to market model, and thus prioritizes innovation, Chervon needed an office space that would enable this intense caliber of product testing, while providing its employees a comfortable and home-like environment. The new space accommodates the company’s tool assembling functions by containing rooms in its warehouse for lithium iron battery assemblage, labs for product testing, and even a “torture chamber” in which tools are pushed to their limits so specialists can determine durability. The workplace has more familiar amenities, such as a gym, a café, a video studio to create and produce promotional footage, and even a showcase space that educates employees on the company’s history with an outdoor terrace extension. The plan is laid out to maximize access to views of the surrounding natural environment in order to reinforce an unconventionally restful atmosphere.
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When CapitalOne set out to position its Chicago office as a premier destination for financial professionals, several of the city’s top architecture firms were hired. One firm was chosen to design the top two floors of the iconic tower at 77 W. Wacker. With its giant arched windows, the space was ripe for a plan that maximized the beauty and functionality of the 50th floor. However, this floor had historically been occupied by executives and boardrooms. The solution was to build a conference center on the 51st floor and utilize a mezzanine to open-up the 50th into one expansive space. Sit-to-stand workstations live at the center of the floorplan, surrounded by lounges and collaborative workspaces that all share impressive views. Corner offices were moved to the interiors so the stunning architecture became a shared experience. Blue glass with wavy detail was used throughout to represent the CapitalOne brand but also the sky and wind made central via the dramatic sightlines.
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We began working with Société Générale near the time of the merger with New Edge (a local Chicago trading firm). The design development progressed with the following thought process: To maintain a visual continuity of the Société Générale brand, provide a historical reference to Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, (which is the root of their financial existence,) while at the same time providing a “Chicago Twist” to provide local relevance to the visuals. This translated into a series of moments as you walked through the space: Heritage Moments, Société Générale Moments and Chicago Moments. Heritage moments were embodied through the wood materials on the floor and two-story columns of the reception area as well as the two-story graphic wall, which is an image of the inside of the historical stain glass dome ceiling at Boulevard Haussmann. The Société Générale moments were exemplified in the use of materials & manufacturer’s synonymous with an SG build-out, such as Bentley carpet, I.O.C. wall fronts, specific lighting manufacturers, and conveniently placed Société Générale square logos at opportune times. The Chicago moments came through the exposing of the raw black iron in the two-story space as well as the black iron being a primary focal point of the internal staircase, as well as the exposing of the ceiling above the trading floor and key visual areas of the elevator lobby and the cafes and accent materials that focus on the texture of the White City. Stepping off the elevator onto the Société Générale floors, and in an effort for consistency with their space in New York City, a clean and minimal elevator lobby inclusive of back painted white glass as well as a stock ticker was used. The ceiling plane drops to align with the tops of the extended elevator entrances. The black iron surrounds the elevator cabs as well as caps the stock ticker at the base, which was purposely installed in the view port of someone who is looking at their phone while walking. The reception area makes use of solid raw materials that further promote the building heritage of Chicago while respecting Société Générale history. This reception area allows for a grand vista to the south and promotes the space’s natural light, beckoning a visitor’s entrance from the elevator lobby. The open office planning module was brought off the perimeter to allow for disengagement with the base building’s planning module. This increased the capacity of desks and staff available of the floor. The floating of workstations in the open office is ground through the lighting concept of a through-bolt. A single light fixture, when in the exposed ceiling, starts in the acoustical ceiling tile, breaks through to the freedom of the exposed ceiling and then finishes off its closure on the other side by diving into the acoustical ceiling tile for a capped end. Each of the conferencing spaces technically performs at a Société Générale standard consistent audio-visual level. The layout of each room allows for the traditional meeting, a more casual living room setting as well as many open office impromptu seating settings have been made available. The overall functional goal was to create an environment that gave the staff more than what they currently had without eliminating any of their current requirements.
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Dim sum restaurant Fun Bun is all about having fun with food and presentation without pushing tradition to the background (further illustrated by our tagline "you win some, you dim sum"). The design needed to appeal to and attract people who have never experienced dim sum before as well as cater to traditional diners. Seating variety supports these new diners (likely to be small groups) and traditional (large groups of friends and family). The private dining room also keeps these traditional diners in mind, and large tables are round to accommodate for Lazy Susans for typical dim sum presentation and to aid eating family style. A "table island" in the center flanked by banquette seats and faux columns helps the elevated area feel likes its own room. This is where the traditional round tables are situated with the smaller tables and booth seating at the perimeter of the restaurant. The circular layout also helps guests with disabilities and serving staff navigate easily. The brand colors of blue, red, pink, yellow, and orange feature prominently. Bright colors are offset by concrete-look floors, light wood finishes, and minimalist furniture. No matter the seat every guest has a fun and interesting view with the fringe curtain at the front of the restaurant and a cartoon mural of Chicago in the back.
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The interior design firm introduced wide plank bleached oak floor, walnut paneling and natural stones to bring warmth to the open modern glass and concrete home
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The firm designed the interior residential spaces for 505, a 45-story residential tower located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. Upon entering the building, residents transition from the vibrancy and activity of downtown into a calm, serene oasis. This sense of respite emanates from Asian-infused design elements throughout the lobby, including an interior bamboo garden. The design for the community spaces throughout the building is influenced by 505’s location in “Music City;” subtle musical references include curved wood ceilings imitating a guitar, staggered linear lighting echoing piano keys, and geometric pendant lights hung in a rhythmic manner to suggest the notion of music notes. 505 is composed of 193 condominium units and 350 apartment units; as such, there was a desire to create a unified community throughout most of the public spaces. Unlike mixed-use projects that separate amenity spaces between home types, 505’s main amenities are shared and interconnected, with select condominium amenities differentiated by access. The seventh floor hosts a large, double-height community lounge with access to the pool deck and dog run. With floor-to-ceiling glass, the space is flooded with natural light and connects to the surrounding urban context. A large, commissioned graphic mural by a local artist further activates the space. The fitness center takes its design cues from a traditional urban loft with exposed brick and wood-inspired flooring. Bespoke amenities offered to condominium owners include a wine tasting room with individual wine storage, a personal training studio, and a party room that is supported by a large catering kitchen.
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The long and narrow space was the big challenge of the selected site. In order to make this location feasible for the practice, 6-8 treatment rooms needed to be planned. For this to work, the design team strategically angled the treatment rooms to meet the doctors minimum dental chairs space clearances. In doing so, 7 treatment rooms were innovatively planned while also working in all the programmatic requirements.
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While the layout of the private office is at first glance straightforward, the detail and execution of it creates a transporting experience. The office is at once one with the city—its windows opening out to impressive vistas of Chicago’s river and downtown—and a tranquil oasis of calm. The organization’s founder has traveled extensively in Asia, and in the process amassed an impressive collection of art, as well as an appreciation of Eastern design principles. That affinity helped to shape this space that balances understated ambiance with moments of powerful beauty. The office is as much a place for work as it is a place to welcome and entertain guests and luminaries. The team approached the design with the mind that they were curating a sense of journey and discovery. That experience begins in the reception. A centuries-old tree, pruned with artistry and care, is juxtaposed against the cliff wall of skyscrapers hugging the banks of the Chicago River in the view beyond. A Henry Moore sculpture complements that form, while soft, comfortable furniture casts a welcoming feel to the space. Generous corridors lead unobstructed out to another striking view. A seated Buddha, graffitied in a pop art application of ephemera anchors the path, and helps guide guests to the office’s main event space. The multi-purpose winter garden is the focal point of the office. A dual layer of vertical hickory slats wrap the 24-foot-high space, creating a floating box that ends 10 inches above the floor. The slats are offset, creating different views of the object as one moves around it. Japanese artist Ueno Masao created a 12-foot-tall bamboo sculpture that floats within the space. As one moves through the workspace itself, the feeling of tranquility continues. Slats front offices, giving privacy and softly diffusing light. Overall, the environment is meant to convey a subtle serenity and simple modernity that is realized as a minimalistic experience and translated with refined craft. While the art is given focus and moments of reflection throughout, in essence the context of the city—with panoramic vistas beyond the glass—brings the unique setting to life as a yin and yang of zen and the city.
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Located in the heart of River North, Gold Coast Plastic Surgery wanted to create a classically elegant, yet state-of-the-art facility for their patients. Located in a century-old brick & timber loft, the new 4,000-square-foot space celebrates the history of the building and infuses a calming aesthetic to a medical setting. The finished palette includes warm tones of wood, terra cotta and exposed brick.
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Fortune Brands Global Plumbing Group sought a presence in Chicago’s iconic Merchandise Mart that would house two of their most prized brands: Moen and House of Rohl. While Fortune required a united multi-functional space for employees, the public face required the appearance of two distinctly separate brands and product lines. Through an immersive and collaborative process, the team worked alongside stakeholders from each brand to identify several key attributes to create two holistic, unique, and distinctive experiences. The Moen showroom is based on an inspirational story, focused on the “beauty of water” and technological innovation. Visitors are greeted with abstract digital projections that activate ripples with in-coming foot traffic. Long, curvilinear troughs are lined with fully functional fixtures that allow customers to freely interact with the faucets. The showroom is an experience grounded in the enduring, innovative, and technically astute aspects of the products, while simultaneously featuring the art and science behind the brand. The House of Rohl embraces the overarching story behind the highly handcrafted process and provenance of each brand. To showcase this opulent variety, the showroom was conceptualized as a boutique jewel box, focused on the idea of exploration, forged craft, and intense beauty. Visitors are greeted by an engraved, dark granite storefront with polished brass blade signs, and drawn in with a curvilinear chassis of powder-coated aluminum that supports a grid of boxes housing the plumbing fixtures on display. Panels housed within the framework use artistic photography and descriptive narratives to tell each sub-brand’s story, providing visitors with a museum-like experience. Moen and House of Rohl share a concealed back of house, meant to provide a centralized location for Fortune employees. Within public view, the showrooms are separate, only revealing a hint of connection between the brands through a pivot door embedded in a shared wall.
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The Belmont Apartments is located in a historic vintage building in Lakeview. The design program called for renovating the core amenity spaces of the building. The last renovation was about 10 years ago. The new design elements combine fantasy with modern and vintage charm. Some areas of the building required very little work while others were completely renovated. The lobby required mainly finishing touches as the existing space already had a beautiful look. We introduced some new furniture pieces, decorative pillows, rugs, drapery, decorative lighting and plants to finish off the space. The lounge space located off the lobby was partially renovated. A combination of vintage Chicago and modern whimsy gives the space a unique personality while the large community table has become a widely used gathering spot. The business center was not being utilized much by residents so the room was renovated to include a variety of seating zones from teaming areas and personal cocoon pods. Acoustics and privacy were handled with felt panels. The laundry room was gutted and turned into a space where you would actually want to be. Gone with the basement dungeon and in with a bright, easy to clean space with natural material references that recall water, stone and wood. Art was also integrated that recalls abstract lakes of water. The club room needed to be more memorable. The theme was an urban forest. Inspired by the existing birch tree wallpaper we added carpet tiles that had an abstract leaf design recalling foliage falling on the forest floor. Natural colors of the forest were integrated throughout to create a soft and comfortable multi-functional space.
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This architect and his wife purchased wooded acreage sited across a sculpted dune, its dramatic landscape featuring stately 100-year oaks punctuated by smooth, leaning beech trees. The tranquil setting initiated a surprising, unplanned discussion to downsize their highrise city property and ultimately plan a permanent transition to woodland living. From the beginning, the architect/homeowner recognized his need to address the dune’s significant slope from the road entrance back toward the woodlands. Seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor space would be paramount as was careful specification of glass systems, determined to create the largest spans of continuous glass possible while withstanding seasons that included often-brutal winters. The couple’s main-level plan sought compelling open interior space; simultaneously, that openness would also need to imbue a sense of calm and contemplative well-being in a woodland theatre of deer, fox and wild turkey. Hand-sketched spatial studies during early concept stages addressed serious structural challenges to accommodate not only a home sited on top of the dune, but design of a central shear-wall for lateral stabilization of the significant full-vision glass walls. Even as the Architect and his wife recognized that this could complicate the purity of interior openness, the couple refused to accept compromise. They sought inspiring, open community space to coexist with their main-floor personal living, seeking materials and finishes that were pure, honest and organic. Lighting had to be integrated and artful. They believed kitchen spaces were about the poetry of cooking, and envisioned additional living spaces to accommodate guests, dedicated home entertainment and inspiring work spaces. From the earliest conceptual studies, interior spaces began determining the home’s physical siting, plays of volume and dramatic views, assuring rapport between the landscape’s natural beauty and the architect/owner’s vision. Design had already skewed the angle of the house directing rear views into the lush woods. Addressing the dune’s slope, the ground-level front entrance transitions across wide-planked floors through the main level where expansive rear glass sits treehouse-suspended 10’0” above the sweeping dune. Here, a custom Corten-steel fireplace sits as a focal point of the living space, flowing into the glass-surrounded library where the combination French/sliding/folding doors blur the lines of indoor-outdoor experience. These doors open onto a serene, furnished porch, utilizing an innovative system of custom-made remote-operated screens spanning up to 18’0”, completely retracting into motorized housings. The stunning open Chef’s Kitchen remains central to main floor entertainment, where an expansive sit-around island consists of a single slab of quartzite edged 2.5”-thick. This space subtly reveals an adjacent high-functioning Prep Kitchen with its dual appliances. From here, a single-glass door opens directly onto the floating, covered Grill Deck where radiant ceiling heaters accommodate year-round outdoor cooking. Exquisite materials defining these kitchen spaces ultimately inspired textural, organic finishes throughout both structures, and using skilled local artisans for all installations grounded the residence even further to its locale. Innovative lighting utilized advanced LED systems to create uncompromising clarity of space, highlighting thoughtfully placed furnishings from a previous LA flat blended with newly-discovered and curated vintage pieces. The structurally challenging shear wall ultimately spanned 40’0” through this main level, performing as a gallery to feature an extensive art collection. In contrast to this grand openness of living space, the tucked-away main-level master suite offers the owners modern calm and refuge. A sweep to the lower level down custom-designed steel stair and railings would fulfill the owners’ entertainment checklist with a bar-lounge for guests located just off the screening room and two private ensuites, each with their own outdoor decks on the woodland floor. Insulating worklife, the compelling separate Studio structure maintains a connection to the main home, accessed over boardwalks through a serene, landscaped courtyard. The architect/owners would note that on their final day of construction, a spectacular sunset just off the lake heralded a new beginning. Boldly discarding 53rd floor highrise city living, this couple had embarked on an adventure to create an emerging sense of tranquility. The modernist new structures that evolved in the process will motivate and inspire them for years.
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This Chicago basement was transformed into the ultimate man cave for a newly retired couple, one-time entrepreneurs. The mancave was created to be entirely different than the rest of the Nantucket style home. While the cigar room was the jumping point, every detail and design is thoughtful and deliberate. There is a huge bar showing off a large Bourbon collection, a pool table, four televisions, and lots of old Chicago photographs. The cigar room is complete with a built in humidor and air filtration system. The highly detailed paneling and millwork encompasses the space while an entirely glass wine room sits central in the space near the games table. Solving mechanical issues to create a smokeless cigar room was very complex. It presented technical challenges as well as creative ones. Wanting absolutely everything to be functional while also balanced and beautiful was a key intention. When looking at the space there were some clear design issues that needed to be overcome, specifically the man cave needed to feel like a completely different space than the rest of the home so dark millwork was added to set a moody yet luxurious tone. The attention to detail in the millwork is a piece of art itself. There was also an unused, awkward corner near the staircase that was converted into an enclosed wine storage unit and the smoking room needed to have its own air ventilation system in order to avoid smoke going through the rest of the house.
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With its adjacency to Lake Michigan and visible connections to both the University’s central campus and the Chicago skyline, the goal was to maximize transparency and views while invigorating the student-athlete experience. Building functions are organized, both vertically and horizontally, to provide lake exposure to every space possible; from recruiting spaces to administrative offices to the spaces that the student-athletes use most often. Lighting and temperature are all adjustable, and materials and furniture were carefully selected and tested to ensure student-athletes comfort. Two formal entries provide public access from the north for Fieldhouse events, and a secured entry from the southern campus side for athletes, coaches and athletic administrators. The fieldhouse dome maximizes the interior volume for the critical sport clearances, and a custom façade delivers mullion-free panoramic views to the lake and adjacent beach and captures the natural light from the north. Branding is a key element throughout, telling the storied history of Northwestern athletics. In the main athletic entry lobby, a three-story LED screen cycles through high-impact motion visuals of a student-athlete in action showcasing each of the program’s 19 sports. Customized team environmental graphics used throughout key student-athlete spaces and high traffic corridors instill pride in the Northwestern Athletics and their specific sport identity and give the student-athletes a sense of belonging.
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The design problem is to create a multipurpose co-working space that can also be used for the purpose of networking and be able to accommodate at least 70 people at a time. Other concerns include at least 24 benching stations and 24 workstations with a variety of meeting spaces. A conference space that seats at least 16 people and room for expansion is requested for larger presentations. Other concerns include acoustical control, biophilia and sustainability. To address the variety of meeting spaces, I added open and closed collaborations, heads down spaces, impromptu meeting spaces for two to four and several lounges for larger parties. There is also an auditorium for guest speakers and evening events. Acoustical concerns were addressed with carpeting in the corridors, acoustical panels on the walls and lowering the ceiling height from 14 feet to 12 feet. Biophilia is addressed with several trees throughout the space to bring nature inside, help with stress relief and cognitive function. Lastly, we have floor to ceiling curtain wall o windows to take advantage of daylighting and reduce the use of electricity. To address sustainability all furniture fabrics are at least 100,000 double rubs and Greenguard certified.
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The Keramikos showroom is meant to represent the history, versatility, and duality of ceramics. I believed it was important to reflect on the material’s history, because it emphasizes ceramic’s durability as well as its importance throughout time. Ancient Greek elements and architectural features are seen throughout the showroom to evoke its antiquity. In order to show the versatility of the material, it was applied to many different surfaces, objects and shapes such as curvilinear walls, bathtubs, flooring, and sculptures throughout the space. Duality is another term that can be used to describe ceramic, because it is long lasting and durable but is considered fragile at the same time. It is a material that is created from fire and heat yet it is a cold surface. It is its own material yet it can be made to look like other materials like marble and wood. Keramikos is meant to educate its visitors about how often ceramic is seen in our daily lives, why it is a great material to use, and why it continues to play a large part in today’s design and architectural world.
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A major goal of the client was for the administration suite to be more accessible to students, so the design focuses on transparency both inside and outside the space. Traditional hallways have been transformed into a hub, where students convene regularly. Physical barriers such as the wall between the “main street” hallway and the high school wing have been removed to promote connection, improve flow, and add energy to the space. The administration area is designed to be open and available to students, while counseling offices are separated off of the main gathering spaces to maintain the desired privacy. Bleachers, a technology display area, a coffee bar, and lounge all create a sense of community for students and staff. A variety of spaces exist from open to closed, flexible to rigid, in order to support many different learning styles, social needs, and academic work.
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As Wicker Park Connection opens a passage between two major arteries of the neighborhood, Division and Milwaukee, the design of the building makes a connection to the past through a modern lens. Over a century ago, Wicker Park was the northern most extent of Chicago and was one of eleven neighborhoods of the Labor Trail. It cultivated a working community and industrial ventures like steel mills, lumber yards, and greenhouses. Industry brought people, people built community. Today, young professionals seek a thriving social environment and proximity to downtown. Wicker Park Connection offers both, along with the authentic materiality of the industries that once inhabited the grounds. These materials combine with natural light to give a peaceful respite for residents at one of the most invigorated intersections of the city. Hot rolled steel and walnut combine at the reception desk and carry over to the custom chandelier which incorporates globe shades, a nod to the neighborhood’s storefront signage. The glass and wood slat wall envelopes the leasing office while sharing an abundance of sunlight. Also featured in the entrance, the steel and moss art installation is derived from the local street map and features the two major thoroughfares, now connected by Wicker Park Connection’s pedestrian walkway. Drawing upon the art of industry that sets the tone for the design concept, the millwork, plaster walls, and custom antiqued mirrors with steel frames were commissioned from artisans in the Midwest. While there are many new developments along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor, Wicker Park Connection leads with a sense of place that both honors the past and embraces the future. Its story is one of authenticity and connectivity as told through the 15-story, 146-unit architecture and design.
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Sikich, a professional services firm, is comprised of various departments that each maintain a distinct culture and client base. Our team was engaged to lead the relocation of their Chicago office, plan for growth, and combine two of Sikich’s main teams: public relations and investment banking. The goal was to create a cohesive design aesthetic while maintaining each group’s personality. Both teams were focused on creating an environment that is both professional and energetic, one that attracts and retains top talent. To solve for the varied cultures, the floor layout contains a centralized reception, conferencing area, and work café that serves as a hub for all departments. The expansive reception area features an undulating baffle ceiling that provides sound absorption, and a dynamic tribute to the movement of Lake Michigan. The eclectic break room features several seating types that allow teams a choice of arrangements—for collaborating, socializing, and everything in between. This space also provides a natural separation between the two departments, and a gathering place for the company as a whole. Each department has a character that is an outgrowth of their functions. The investment banking section of the plan is secured, and contains conference rooms equipped with technology that facilitates the group’s many presentations. Public relations, on the other hand, is equipped with displays that feature the product they market, and collaborative breakout areas geared towards flexibility and creativity. In total, we aligned the Sikich workspace with their multifaceted culture, and allowed both teams to work uninhibited.
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The design problem was to create a premiere beachfront dining destination, serving fresh seafood and seasonal cuisine in a classic coastal setting. The design solution utilizes coastal inspired materials, finishes and architectural elements to set the tone for the dining experience. Large windows provide abundant natural light as well as views of the dramatic bayside setting. Columns and large ceiling beams create intimacy and acoustic control by creating different "rooms". A variety of seating options create flexibility for various group sizes. Wide aisles, slip-resistant flooring and accessible restrooms provide patron comfort and safety.
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Taureaux Tavern is a contemporary French restaurant located near the Board of Trade and Mercantile Exchange in the heart of Chicago’s Financial District. Introducing a breath of fresh air into the neighborhood’s limited restaurant scene, that targets daytime trader and sales clientele seeking to entertain clients in an elevated environment. Established in 1848, the Chicago Board of Trade is one of the world’s oldest futures and options exchanges. Pulling cues from this historic landmark and old-world banks, the interior design of the restaurant oozes traditional opulence in way that feels unpretentious and approachable. Upon entry, a custom 10ft-high tiered copper and glass chandelier hangs overhead, mimicking Art Deco inspired architectural curves throughout the space. A copper coated faceted bull sculpture also marks the restaurant’s entrance, paying homage to the name, which is French for “bull”. Antique lighting fixtures and plaster finishes create the illusion that the restaurant has been there for years, backed by authentic photography from the Board of Trade dating from the late 1940s. Custom green fluted metal cladding wrapping the columns and main bar, metal cut screens on the banquets and stair risers, and custom tile flooring add to the decorative nature of the space. Juxtaposing historically inspired finishes, neon signage glowing the “color of money” and hand painted details add just the right level of modern flare to the overall environment, appealing to younger guests seeking a celebratory bite after a morning win.
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This project consisted of a gut renovation to a three bedroom and three bath condo. The program called for a spacious living area that took advantage of the panoramic views of Oak Street Beach. There were a myriad of existing walls separating the living, dining and kitchen areas so these were all removed. The client wanted a minimalist design that had thoughtful and functional design elements. Storage was important as the owners downsized from their suburban home to move to the city. All storage had to be hidden from view and there needed to be plenty of it. The solution was to conceal a large array of closets in the entry wall behind walnut panels on touch latch. Storage for extra dining chairs, clothing and even two bikes is all concealed from view. Guests do not know the secrets that lie behind the beautiful wood paneling. The office was a swiss army knife full of hidden storage. A hidden craft table, printer, files and general storage are all concealed behind a simple slab of cabinetry. All wiring is concealed from view with plenty of gadget connectivity. Keeping the condo spacious was addressed by removing unnecessary walls, using light colored materials and incorporating design elements and cabinetry sparingly. Contrasting white and walnut wood is repeated throughout to keep the design vocabulary simple and consistent. The neutral color of the stone and tile blend in with the minimalist interior. Roller coaster shelves and floating shelves in the living area and office add playfulness and a sense of lightness to maintain an airy feel.
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IMC, an international technology-driven trading firm, recently underwent a 60,000-square-foot office expansion and renovation at Willis Tower in Chicago. The design of the new workplace focuses on motivating employees and promoting IMC’s forward-thinking culture, which emphasizes collaboration and innovation. The space supports these principles with a variety of informal meeting areas for group work and ample writeable surfaces for idea sharing and problem solving. Working within Willis Tower, the design team found innovative ways to embrace the structural challenges of the building. The exposed ceilings, columns, and large trusses are now attractive elements and intentional aspects of the design. Additionally, a new staircase connects the two main floors, supporting interaction between the numerous departments within the office. The design also takes a notable approach to support employee wellness. A wellness suite is composed of a mother’s room, prayer/meditation room, massage room, and a headache/rest room. Finally, a technology-free lounge provides a quiet space to unplug and reset. Access to daylight was a key driver in the programming and planning effort for IMC’s new space. New workstations on the 43rd floor are located around the perimeter of the floor to maximize natural daylight and 360-degree views to the city. On the 42nd floor, the designers prioritized the use of transparent materials to allow daylight to permeate the majority of the conference, training, and individual work spaces on the floor. Within the private offices, light sensors adjust the use of supplemental artificial light when needed, while occupancy sensors shut off lights when no users are detected. The connecting stair was strategically placed in a prominent, central location to ensure maximum usage, furthering energy savings by reducing dependence on elevators.
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The new West Loop Library is the first-ever Chicago Public Library branch in the community, donated to the City of Chicago by a local developer as part of the ongoing development and transformation of the neighborhood. The team was challenged to envision a unique identity for the new library branch and conceive of a cultural, social, and educational center for the neighborhood, while preserving the industrial character of the two conjoined 1930’s-era buildings through adaptive reuse. Formerly part of the campus of a Chicago-based national television production company, the interiors of the original buildings had been heavily segmented and modified to meet the needs of television production. The expansive wooden ceiling trusses had been concealed, the historic brick walls hidden, hardwood floors tarnished, and partition walls erected throughout to minimize daylight and views through the space. Outside, the exterior lacked a coherent identity, appearing understated on the street: beige stucco and painted brick allowed it to blend into its surroundings. Working closely with the client and the Chicago Public Library system, the design team identified areas of opportunity to unify the two buildings, with distinct interior and environmental graphics design schemes created to realize the most significant impact for library users, while preserving the historic elements of the buildings. Graphic interventions throughout the building announce different programmatic areas, including all-ages reading spaces, flexible community rooms, a teen digital learning space with recording studio, and a “Tinkering Lab” that provides digital space for children. Graphics of sound waves woven with excerpts from books found throughout in the library and selected by librarians—25 children’s books and 32 classic novels—allude to the power of words and stories. The design of the West Loop Branch library is borne of its location: an industrial district turned mixed-use work-play-live neighborhood. Responding directly to the challenge of adaptive reuse, the design celebrates and unites two existing buildings, unveiling the original bow-truss ceiling structure in the expansive new reading room, while exposing and refinishing original interior brick walls to create a sophisticated learning environment. Transforming the exterior, the library features a weathered steel façade, visually unifying the buildings and providing a clear point of arrival for visitors. Graphic linework animates the façade, introducing a reading-inspired motif used throughout. The renovated interior reveals skylights and bow-truss ceiling to create a light-filled space reflective of the West Loop’s factory-warehouse style. Dividing walls for television studios and offices were removed, while openings were created in the wall between the two buildings to create an open-concept interior. Walnut-topped bookshelves and blackened steel elements establish a sense of visual continuity and create intimate reading, study, play, and staff spaces. For children, a colorful palette embraces playfulness, with movable furniture at a variety of child-friendly heights, featuring writable and magnetic surfaces. “The Chicago Public Library system provides a vital community anchor for families to gather, students to get homework help and job-seekers to connect with life-changing opportunities,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The new West Loop library branch is a proud example of how city officials come together with private partners to build strong neighborhoods, and provide a place for all community residents to gather, share and succeed.”
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1/Productive circulation for both clients and employees - Focused on making a clear view from each section will arrow for a customer service timely. -Zoning will help lead a customer to the right section. 2/ Quality of material and safety -Matte finished porcelain tile has a feature of easy maintenance and long life cycle. Also, slip resistance which is essential for users. -Bamboo wall cladding is not only helping for creating Japanese environment but also environmental friendly material. 3/ Maximizing the seat possibility -Since seating number is one of the most important considering points to run a restaurant business, layout focused on the flexibility and having a lot of seats with enough circulation. -Zoning will help to allow for a large number party without disturbing other customers.
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When Hinshaw & Culbertson relocated their headquarter office to a new, premier high-rise tower in Chicago, the firm wanted the design of their new office to achieve greater space efficiency, align with the firm’s culture, and incorporate flexible planning to accommodate future growth. The design of Hinshaw’s new 121,000-square-foot office space accomplishes these important objectives and reflects the duality of their identity as a law practice: an established firm with a contemporary sensibility. The design firm introduced a universal-sized office approach, allowing for maximum flexibility and the ability to have associates placed in offices adjacent to partners with whom they interact with the most. Additionally, this type of standardization eliminated the perceived hierarchy that office size designates, creating a more egalitarian environment. This breaking down of traditional barriers adds to a sense of accessibility that associates often seek in a firm. To further maximize space efficiencies, the designers situated a large portion of private office space on the floor’s perimeter, reducing the square footage per employee by 45 percent. This plan also provides the space with an abundance of natural light and access to premium views of the surrounding city. To allow for a dynamic and collaborative work setting, Hinshaw’s new workplace includes a variety of conference rooms and informal meeting areas to encourage idea sharing and interaction. The design also allows flexibility to accommodate the firm’s future growth. For example, internal case rooms can easily converted to associate offices, if needed. The look and feel of the shared spaces are timeless and tailored; their overall sophistication punctuated throughout with edgier elements and unexpected moments to call attention the rich artistry that the city has to offer. Works by local artists and photographers abound and visitors will find a unique surprise in the stairwell connecting Hinshaw’s four floors, a nod to the urban fabric that makes Chicago unique. A curated palette of materials including calacatta borghini marble, warm woods, and steel paired with contemporary furnishings evoke a sense of urban hospitality throughout the client-facing spaces.
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When the mid-rise tower at 4 East Elm opened in 2016, Chicago’s Gold Coast community welcomed a new luxury residence at its heart. The modern but elegant architecture is glass forward, and the incoming residents had design considerations for how to best utilize this star feature. The unit shown here was completed in the summer of 2018 by the same firm hired for the building’s public spaces. Emphasis is placed on an open floorplan that provides unparalleled sightlines of Chicago’s skyline. With this visual expanse, the design needed to provide a sense of personal space within this larger, shared perspective. The result is a serene oasis that upholds the sophistication of the 4 East Elm building and with personalization throughout.
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City Club Apartments Cincinnati is a restoration and adaptive reuse of a Cincinnati Landmark. Constructed in 1928, this 300,000 SF Beaux Arts building functioned as an office building in the heart of Cincinnati’s downtown business district. The property is located along the Ohio River and overlooks the Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark. The project included the restoration of the historic façade and a full renovation transforming the building from office space to 294 market rate apartment units ranging in size from a 395 square foot Nano Unit to a 1400 square foot penthouse unit. Residents and guest enjoy the convenience of 333 underground parking stalls for easy access to their home, retail and restaurants on site. Residents and guests are welcomed to City Club Apartments with an historic boutique style hotel lobby. Historic travertine floors and walls and an ornate gold leaf ceiling remain in place as a reference to the past. Bold and modern insertions to the lobby including custom chandeliers, large scale trees and framed art panels enhance the dramatic effect of the processional leading residents through the lobby to the concierge. Guests are greeted by a wine bar at the main entry that opens to a shared lounge providing additional seating to the wine bar and providing residents another spot for socializing. As residents experience the property they have access to a long list of amenities. A state-of-the-art fitness center allows for an unrivaled workout experience. The eclectic quality of the lobby and lounge interior carries to the rooftop amenities where residents can enjoy a luxurious indoor pool complete with spa, full height mirrors and chandeliers that open to a sun deck. The adjacent clubroom is equipped with a gourmet kitchen and bar, gaming space, communal table and ample lounge areas around a fireplace.
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Shure Incorporated, a leading global microphone and audio electronics manufacturer, invited us to design their new Chicago City Center. Located in the heart of the Loop, the City Center brings Shure back to its’ Chicago roots and recreates a downtown presence. The design team was tasked with creating a modern environment that showcased Shure’s brand, provided room for their innovation and enhanced client and Associates’ experience. The Shure Brand is highlighted throughout including an abstract iconic 1939 Unidyne Microphone in the elevator lobby, interactive product display at Reception/Customer Experience Center, history wall featuring iconic figures using Shure products, and black and white graphics with Chicago music venue and historical events. The work space provides collaborative height workstations and unique spaces that support creativity, such as a video recording studio, editing suite, production development space, and a large flexible Hub that functions as both social and presentation space. Maximized access to natural light, height adjustable furniture, choice of work settings with varying postures and selective sustainable materials contribute to employee wellbeing.
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Upwork is a web-based global freelancing platform based in Silicon Valley. Upon relocating their Chicago office, the design for their new 28,000-square-foot workplace celebrates Upwork’s growing presence in the city, as well as the company’s mission to provide economic opportunities in local communities around the world. To connect the new space to its surroundings, the design team organized the office into different areas named after Chicago neighborhoods. Each quadrant is denoted by large, graphic wall coverings of iconic landmarks and restaurants located throughout the city, as selected by Upwork employees. To tie the design back to the organization itself, the design firm incorporated branding elements throughout the space, as seen in the crisp design aesthetic, bright lighting, and verdant accents, reminiscent of the company’s logo. The open floor plan features sit-to-stand workstations, a number of collaboration and informal meeting spaces, quiet areas for individual work, and a large café space that can accommodate meetings for up to 150 people. Integrated technology in both the collaboration spaces and conference rooms creates a flexible, team-oriented work environment and supports connectivity to Upwork’s clients worldwide.
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A key component of United Airlines’ reimagined international business class experience, Polaris focuses on the importance of luxury, privacy, and restfulness for United’s premier customers. The hospitality-level amenities in the lounge support the airline’s vision for an unprecedented standard of guest services. In the 12,000-square-foot lounge at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the design firm’s studied use of materials, distinctive lighting, and impactful art creates a truly differentiated experience for travelers. The primary design objective was to generate a sense of continuity between the on-board cabin environment and the lounge experience. This was achieved through thoughtful spatial planning and creating different zones within the lounge that celebrate the excitement of travel. For example, the lounge is bifurcated by an atrium, acting as a natural divider in the lounge. On the west side of the lounge, guests can gather by the bar, or use the open lounge space and seating for work or conversation. The east side of the lounge is a quiet, restful space where guests can use the spa-like bathrooms, showers, and sleeping pods. A smaller, more private pre-flight dining area is available as well. These hospitality-level amenities support United’s vision for an unprecedented standard of guest services. The lounge also takes design cues from the distinct and unique vibe of LA nightlife by featuring moody lighting, layered textures, and smaller spaces for travelers. The design team’s studied use of materials, distinctive lighting, and impactful art creates a truly differentiated experience for travelers.
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Inspired by the beauty of nature within and around Fairbanks, Ryan Middle School was designed to bring elements of its extraordinary context into the design of the building through form, color, and light. While the exterior took its cues from the birch forests through use of black-edged white paneling, accented with greens and yellows, the interior was conceived of as a series of "objects in the forest": a central open 2-story commons space is framed by a cheerful beam of sunshine (a smooth, rounded, double-height volume housing the music room), the aurora borealis (a double-height undulating colored glass wall enclosing the school library), and Denali (stacked faceted volumes of flexible classroom spaces). Flooring patterns create pools between spaces, defining areas of gathering and circulation. Considering unique climate challenges during the school year of cold winter temperatures and short daylight hours, the warmth of wood was brought in through the ceilings to complement the bright colors. The use of glass classroom fronts and clerestories maximize daylight and visual access to the sky across all spaces. Additional lighting features are employed to bring life and vibrancy to the colors and materials in the space in the absence of daylight. Functionally, all of the spaces are designed to be flexible and create dynamic relationships between programs. The art studio and tech classroom can open up to each other for combined creative tech projects. The music room opens up onto the commons for performances to an audience or jazz at lunch. The library opens up to the commons as well, creating a fluid connection between spaces and strongly encouraging use of these spaces together for a variety of events. Denali creates a separation between the main school commons and the scaled down classroom commons, which all of the classrooms face and open up onto. Classes spill out and intermingle. The students and teachers support one another in this open environment, which fosters a sense of curiosity and compels them to explore new ideas and activities, creating a real sense of community.
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Occupying an old department store building, Snapsheet sought to create a space full of energy and collaboration to accommodate its rapid growth. The single-floor 52,000 SF office is organized around unifying circulation paths and features game rooms, nap rooms, open office workstations, and numerous communal spaces. The centerpiece of the gathering spaces is the expansive café, sized to accommodate all-staff meetings. Neighborhoods were created to accommodate the specific needs of the various groups; separating louder areas from private spaces was integral in noise control throughout the space. An open variety of seating creates varied opportunities for workspaces. Live plants were introduced throughout to enhance the liveliness and vibrancy of the office.
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For more than two decades the top floor of Prudential Plaza sat vacant, full of natural light and incredible potential. The former observation deck was punctuated with what was once the “world’s tallest escalator,” and we relished the idea of transforming the space into an airy, lofted workplace. When a media company selected it for their national headquarters, we were excited to see the potential realized. Despite the obvious asset of incredible views, the terraced floor, which had worked well for an observation deck, was not well suited to other uses. We opted to completely remove and replace the floor slab and expose the raw concrete ceiling, moving air distribution beneath a new raised floor. The suite entrance is flanked by impactful quotes celebrating the American First Amendment right of freedom of the press, etched across a glass divider. The divider masks a ramp from the pantry and entry, while visually connecting the remaining two levels. A subdued, neutral palette and premium finishes contrast with areas of exposed concrete, and arresting views of the city and lake. A round halo of light crowns the executive boardroom and is visible from Millennium Park, adding a new twinkle to Prudential’s skyline presence. Photos by Kendall McCaugherty, Hall + Merrick Photographers
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The main concept of Infrarail is to "reveal what is hidden" and aims to bring awareness to the hidden factors of social stratification represented by train networks. The design solution draws inspiration from infrared light, a part of the EM spectrum that people encounter most in everyday life, although most of it goes unnoticed. It is invisible to the human eye but is felt as heat. Infrarail utilizes back-lit surfaces to manipulate the visibility of objects and people in the space.
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RXBAR’s newly constructed 10-floor office building in downtown Chicago is the first expression of the brand in built space and honors the company's modest beginnings while inspiring exceptional growth of products, ideas, teams, and brand identity. Kicking off in August of 2017, the RXBAR team chose to move into the space as a family at full completion in April of 2018. It is an office without ego and is a place of purpose - designed to foster collaboration among individuals who dive deep on personality tests so that they can propel their talents together in harmony. Launching five years ago from a suburban basement outside of Chicago, RXBAR was bursting from their small identity-less office while at the same time gearing up for a furious hiring campaign. The protein bar company was eager to establish a 215-seat corporate headquarters in Chicago's River North neighborhood and sought to translate the honesty and energy of the brand’s No B.S. packaging, ingredients, and internal mantra into their physical space. While RXBAR joined the Kellogg's family during the build-out, their identity continues to remain uniquely theirs. Their beginnings are honored by the company's original Hobart mixer proudly displayed in the largest and most public conference room and the CEO's worn wooden stool which sits near his desk. RXBAR’s egalitarian beliefs are evident in the open seating layout that offers window views and sit-stand desks to each employee. The laptop-based staff can have a seat at cafe-style banquettes and kitchen islands at every floor or enjoy the ninth floor with kombucha and cold-brew on tap, an outdoor grill and firepit, and indoor entertainment space. Impromptu collaboration areas, quiet concentration rooms, and engaged breakout lounges help the teams work according to their styles and functions. An innovation lab allows for exploration of new products, a shipping center supports the efforts of the marketing team, and the onsite fitness center and locker room reflect the lifestyle of those that work for a company whose name is derived from a CrossFit term. The interiors are honestly straightforward. Glass walls of semi-private rooms let in the light and activity of the main floor. Corner rooms are for a meeting of the minds, not private offices. Raw steel, real woods, and an abundance of plants are natural and simple, just like the product's ingredients. Brand colors find unique placement on each floor, including in the stair murals which encourage employees to hike instead of ride, and the iconic packaging makes its way to the lobby's building directory. The building shell embraces the character of the site and the curved glass tower sits just inside the bend of the elevated CTA tracks. The wedge-shaped structure is in complete harmony with its surroundings and succeeds at creating a pedestrian plaza, Class A office building, and two retail experiences on a site that had been underdeveloped as a parking lot. From the shell to the interiors, each design decision reflects RXBAR's sacred core value: honest and simple from the inside out.
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Located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Exhibit on Superior is a new 34-story LEED Gold residential tower whose interior caters to the creative professional. An artistic and textured wall of letters greets residents and visitors in the lobby entrance of this 283,000 square foot building. Authentic, unadorned finishes and furnishings explore the bespoke nature of art and creates a unique experience for residents and their guests. Handmade furniture gives an organic sense to the reception area and are augmented by glass walls and modern fixtures. To create a dialogue with the neighborhood, the lobby level’s exterior wall opens to the street and the new public park that was created on the property. Using the concept of “smart living,” the building features microunits, which especially appeal to millennials working and living in downtown Chicago. One of the main challenges was designing efficient layouts for these microunits; a new and innovative product in the Chicago market. The designers focused on highly efficient design layouts that include floor-to-ceiling windows to provide an abundance of natural light to fill the apartments. Lighter finish palettes additionally brighten the microunits and allow natural light to reflect upon the unit surfaces. Another challenge was determining how to successfully create amenity spaces that cater to the microunit demographic. As a solution, the entire fifth floor is dedicated to a series of amenities that serve as an extended living space for residents. The designers created multiple spaces to accommodate a variety of purposes, including private workrooms for study spaces, a larger meeting room, and a formal dining room. All amenity spaces have dual purposes that can be used in a variety of ways. Additional amenities include a spa, sauna, gym, and library, all with direct access to the landscaped podium deck and swimming pool. Like the lobby, the use of wood and warm tones throughout the fifth floor create a warm and welcoming environment.
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The Chicago office of an international law practice provides a high performance, functional workplace and platform for dynamic global collaboration, community outreach and client engagement. The design mirrors the dynamic tension between the client's orthogonal program and the building's radial geometry. Arriving, an external arch draws the eye towards an open mise-en-scène defined by an arc of white terrazzo and "lacquer" fabric ceilings. This multi-function/high-flex volume is mirrored by an exterior cantilevered balcony with sweeping city views. Premium height acoustic wood ceilings flow throughout adjacent to luminous channel glass core walls, identifying the 9th floor space on the city skyline from within. Glass cavity assemblies, high-gloss walls and doors with faux-leather panels are carefully detailed to render a timeless, modern serenity. Color palettes inspired from the colors of earth from space (blue, green, tan and white) combined with international style furnishings lend a universal sense of place. Compositions of curved and planar forms inspire the local practice lobbies with blue-glass planes set opposite curving satellite city images from various continents; balancing informal, river-facing lounges against formal, city-facing conference rooms bonded together terrazzo and wood ceilings. Universally-sized offices with sit-stand modular furniture feature polished chrome, double-glazed facades following the building's elliptical profile, framing open worksites allowing light into interior spaces. A functional and agile design connects/enables a rigorous professional community in an intelligent and inspiring environment of simple, honest materials expertly-crafted representing - through form and light- the practice core's character and futurized vision.
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