When Savills Studley moved its Chicago headquarters to a new tower in the city’s West Loop, it sought new ideas to create a space that met the diverse, changing needs of its team and industry. Occupying a single floor of the tower, the new 16,500-square-foot office is infused with daylight and incorporates a variety of workspace typologies to meet a wide range of the team’s needs. Employing a palette of dark wood, polished stone, and finished metal, the space offers team members refined spaces for collaboration, client meetings, focused solo work, casual conversation, and relaxation. To maximize the tower’s floor-to-ceiling views of the Chicago River and the Loop, meeting spaces, conference rooms, and equal-sized private offices are glass-enclosed, while semi-private and collaborative workspaces are open to allow daylight to permeate the space. Small, private study rooms provide interruption-free, quiet spaces for calls. At the heart of the office, a café and lounge—furnished with couches, booths, café tables, and a counter lined with stools—features a stunning view of the city and fosters interaction and a sense of community. A second café area adjacent to reception provides space for informal client working sessions. Designed to facilitate well-being, collaboration, and community, the new Chicago office efficiently meets the diverse needs of the firm’s growing team.
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Top restaurateurs and dining influencers Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas envisioned Michelin-star awarded Roister, their newest restaurant in the Fulton Market District of Chicago, as a literal interpretation of the word. Roister, defined by Merriam-Webster as “to engage in noisy revelry”, would be a casual take on fine dining, built upon the question of what it would be like for guests to “dine in the kitchen” with the chefs, showcasing center stage the process of raw to refined. The resulting experience is one where guests are effortlessly welcomed to become part the chef’s creative environment, watching the hands at work, and feeling the heat of an open wood fire grill giving way to the heart of flavorful, hip and creative, New American food and drink. Roister consists of two dining areas – a more raw main level and a refined lower level. Throughout, the many varied textures, finishes, and custom wall and ceiling elements speak to the relationship between raw and refined. The centrally located and completely open kitchen area on the main level features a large suspended blackened metal soffit which surrounds the large wood burning hearth. Custom blackened metal chandeliers, inspired by medieval armor skirting, hang over the large butcher block pass, which highlights the chefs center stage as a focal point for guests. On the first floor, blackened and polished wood beams span the walls and ceilings to create an energetic connectivity. The beams, featuring cantilevered shelves and embedded copper, lead to custom square copper sconces inlaid at their end points. A painting by Chicago-based artist hangs prominently in the front of the room, drawing guests in through floor-to-ceiling accordion foiling glass doors. The lower dining area –the more refined of the two spaces– includes a custom ceiling panel installation prominently spanning the breath of the room. The custom fabricated panels, when assembled create a continuous wave design that leads you through the space and changes in its appearance as viewed from varied settings. Each panel was custom fabricated and installed by the design/fabrication company and feature a pattern of coppered finished milled holes, which creates the transformative visual effect. The back end of the downstairs was designed to transform from a prep kitchen during the day to dining area at night. Counter sight lines flow directly through one main line. In the end, Roister provides its patrons with the opportunity to get closer than ever to the process, watching the chef’s move freely in their own space, with them at the heart of the creation process.
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Our founding office embraces its role as guardians and champions of the firm’s 80-year legacy. Its new home in the north tower of Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Building reflects the firm’s culture, showcasing our myriad accomplishments while allowing the design process to shine. The relocation to a smaller overall office footprint, as well as the transition from two floors to five, drove the decision to seek employee input early in the process. Feedback from staff revealed that the average meeting size was just three-to-five people, which informed the decision to add several small conference rooms. The resulting design provides a mix of active, quiet, social, private, collaborative and restorative spaces to accommodate diverse workstyles, personalities and respective projects and tasks. Along with the availability of different spaces comes the permission to work in a more mobile, less static, fashion. Most notably, the office shifts the balance of space from private offices to both open and closed collaboration spaces, with a 33% increase in total collaboration seats from the previous office. To further aid knowledge transfer (and demonstration of process), the new office added 64% more pin-up space throughout the office. This new space better supports team-based work as well as the open exchange of ideas that fuel creative solutions. Wellbeing was another design driver. More choice of where to work, paired with a multi-floor design (anchored by a grand central staircase), enables movement around the office, and sit-stand desks support changing postures. The Cloud, a multi-purpose space on the tower’s top floor, is a light-filled destination for both work and social opportunities, and the 17th floor offers access to nature via the terrace. Throughout the space, healthy materials reinforce the commitment to a healthy workplace. Our new home is a living lab that allows us to “walk the talk” and show best practices in planning, materiality and brand. It’s a sales tool that actualizes our design approach for clients and lends it credibility.
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Mid-America Real Estate Group is an industry leading full-service retail real estate organization serving the Midwest. Their expertise and exclusive focus on retail distinguishes them amongst their competition. The relocation of their Chicago office to the Wrigley building, located on Michigan Avenue, aligns their industry leading position with the heart of retail in the City of Chicago, The Magnificent Mile. The design of their new office space centers around three design pillars that evoke the culture, emotion, and energy of Mid-America Real Estate Group. The ‘Avenue’ is defined as a main thoroughfare through a city that serves as destination for people in the community. Characteristics of an avenue include retail and restaurants flanking each side, softened by beautifully manicured landscaping. An urban environment can be characterized by strong materials, bright lights, and movement. Fusing the attributes of the urban environment with Retro elements from the 1960’s creates a unique style that is bold yet comfortable. ‘The Art of the Deal’ pays homage to the human component of the business and the complex layering of information that is involved with closing each deal. The buildings core layout and perimeter window spacing provided challenges in accommodating the highly privatized program requirements. Several studies were conducted to understand the optimal rhythm for offices along the perimeter to meet the program and maximize real estate. Additionally, creating an open and collaborative environment was challenging based on the highly privatized program and the shape of the floor plate. Creating small moments for the space to open up to allow for a planned collision to occur was a strategy we used when planning.
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As part of an efficiency initiative, the corporate office of this global automotive retail industry technology provider wished to consolidate customer service offices from various regions around the country into a single location housing 1,200 employees. They chose a vacant complex built on property previously home to General Motors in the 1990s. Since this consolidation involved offices across the nation, it was imperative that the new facility be a draw to encourage existing employees to relocate, as well as a magnet for attracting new talent from the area. Additionally, since significant attrition within the existing employee base was anticipated, the facility needed to be up-and-running quickly, and provide space suitable for on-site training of new employees. The facility has been transformed into an agile, world-class customer service center rich with amenities. Design Challenges • Support 1,200 employee capacity in an agile, technology-rich environment • Serve as a magnet for new talent acquisition and employee retention • Rapidly accommodate the first round of new employees, and train them on site • Deliver a fast-track build-out in two phases, within a total of nine months Guiding Principles • Embellish brand as an expression of culture • Maximize natural daylight and sustainable practices • Provide state-of-the-art enabled technology • Support social/work collaboration (open and closed hubs, Avanti Market, café) • Enhance employee wellness (fitness, lockers, etc.) • Ensure high employee satisfaction to increase retention Design Solution Once the real estate team and owner zeroed in on the prospective headquarters building, the design team quickly determined through the use of benchmark data (120 sq. ft./person) that the complex could support all 1,200 employees. Buildings 1 and 3 would hold 850 employees. Building 2 would be reserved to house the remaining employees at a later date. Final plans and design were based on established space standards previously developed by the design team. The design solution addressed the company’s fast-paced, highly collaborative, and interactive work style. The agile workplace environment supports open clusters of product teams comprised of developers, analysts, testers, and managers. Low height panels provide open lines of visual and verbal communication. Quiet rooms, hubs, and team rooms provide a choice between independent and collaborative work. Previously established benchmark statistics, such as the ratio of workstation to conferencing and collaborative seats (1 : 2.5), were used to plan a balanced distribution of benches, workstations, closed hubs, quiet rooms, and open collaborative spaces. Special attention was paid in positioning the amenity spaces on the first floor where traffic could be monitored and controlled by security. When the design team discovered there was an internal stair buried in a drywall enclosure which was structurally suitable for an open stair, they capitalized on this by redesigning the stair to become a feature element in the center of the floor plan. The new stair provides vertical access for employees to the adjacent lounges, and encourages informal social interaction. Other creative design elements include the use of LED lighting to replace fluorescent and reduce electricity usage, the addition of bold graphics (local architect themes), and shaped accent walls denoting the brand color. Brand expression can be found on both featured drywall forms through applied brand color and in the graphics applied to the glass hub fronts. The variation in architectural graphics on each hub’s glass front provides wayfinding and names for room scheduling. Renderings of the facility interior, which showcased the numerous amenities and natural daylight-infused spaces were shared early in the project with both current and potential employees as a mechanism for recruitment. The project has been well received by executives and employees alike. At the grand opening, the CEO expressed his satisfaction with the fact that this former GM property is once again home to an automobile-related enterprise, and a vibrant part of the business community. The circle is now complete.
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To create and design a restaurant with name and logo, type of food, theme, and finishing materials. The restaurant has to be wheelchair accessible and have ample space for traffic flow. Designed building is 4,500 square feet and requires minimum of 1,350 sq ft of space for kitchen. Habaneros is a traditional Mexican restaurant with a modern twist in design, inspired by the nature of Mexico and located in Chicago. The color scheme chosen represents the habanero pepper, as well as the warm colors that remind people of Mexico. Sustainability is a main focus, with reuse of materials, energy efficiency, greenery, and eco-friendly materials and textiles. Locally grown organic food is provided in Habaneros to help boost the local economy, reduce environmental impact, and to offer a healthier diet. Habaneros is ADA accessible. The main traffic flow gives ample space for both patrons and wait staff. There is a max seating capacity of 132. Habaneros is for people of all ages to enjoy and is a dynamic place that feels like a break from the busy streets of Chicago.
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191 North Wacker is a class A office building in downtown Chicago. For their tenant amenities, Eastlake conceived two distinct yet interconnected spaces: a large multi-functional conference space and an intimate wi-fi lounge. An expansive glass wall provides visual connection with acoustical privacy between the conference space and the lounge, reinforcing the interrelation of the two programs. The meeting room can be quickly reconfigured with an operable partition to accommodate groups ranging from 20 to 110. The lounge consists of a series of spaces offering varying degrees of privacy and engagement: refreshment bar, game area, and fabric-wrapped “quiet booths.” Occupants of the building can use the lounge as a quiet work space during the day, a meet-up space during lunch, or an after-hours event spot at night.
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Clark-Lindsey completed a master plan and phased campus repositioning. Following a first phase addition of new villas, the organization focused on expanding wellness offerings and providing a new environment for long term care residents. Clark-Lindsey partnered with The Green House Project and design team to help usher in a new standard of care for those experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses. Two new Green House® residences will provide an atmosphere designed to feel less institutional and more like home. Each Green House features 12 private bedrooms, specially trained caregivers, and spaces designed to feel like home and encourage social engagement. From the outdoor courtyard, library and den areas to the open kitchen providing home cooked meals, the amenities encourage social interaction among elders and caregivers. The interior design reflects a residential composition balanced with the necessary senior friendly attributes. A required commercial kitchen is disguised and adorned with warm wood and beautiful quartz, covering up the functional stainless steel behind and presenting a more home-like setting. Soft muted tones on the floor afford an easy transition between materials, while splashes of color are found within the textiles on the furniture and accent pieces throughout, both at a closer reach to the resident to touch and feel. Clark-Lindsey’s new Wellness Center provides a range of health-focused amenities for older adults to thrive and connect to their community. The Wellness Center includes a rehabilitation and therapy suite, a warm water therapy and exercise pool, and a wellness and fitness suite with a welcoming lobby. Its position at the front door of the campus is a testament to the community’s commitment to wellness, while its strategic location between pieces of the continuum creates interaction amongst all residents within the community. Biophilic elements are incorporated all through the wellness center, the flooring throughout the lobby and corridors resembles the soft texture of river stones and mixture of warm and cool neutrals. Natural woods are found in furniture, ceiling materials and artwork, emphasizing the experience with nature. The therapy and exercise pool offers an expansive connection to the outdoors all while providing some privacy with the leafy pattern etched on the glass panels. The additions and renovations are aimed at extending Clark-Lindsey’s presence as a highly regarded center of excellence in the care of elders in the larger central Illinois region.
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Drawing on the industrial base-building design, juxtaposed with the client’s desire to have a warm and non-corporate space, our design response included the blending of the existing space with a flexible, experimental environment that nurtured cross-functional collaboration. Areas dedicated to socialization and spontaneous interaction were enhanced by a custom mural by local artist, The Lie (Jay Turner)”. A barista and café anchors the space, providing a needed and desired communal area that casually brings together employees seated in different areas around the company’s office.
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Located at the converging branches of the Chicago River, Wolf Point West is a 500-foot-tall tower rising 48 stories and featuring 509 rental units within 571,000 SF. LEED Silver certified, the tower is composed of a series of layered planes that form the composition of the building’s massing, creating a slender and elegant profile on a prominent Chicago site. To create an open and welcoming first impression within the 700 SF lobby, the designers utilized reflective materials throughout to be reminiscent of the river. Visitors first face the river, making this critical connection to the water their initial experience of the building’s interior. The lobby features a decorative screen, visible both inside and outside, with a pattern that directly references the Chicago Municipal Device, symbolizing the three branches of the Chicago River meeting at Wolf Point. This screen gives residents a desired privacy, while allowing light into the lobby. On the riverfront level, a riparian lounge offers 360-degree views of the Chicago River and city. The designers utilized a mirror-clad column as an opportunity to emphasize these reflective views as a focal point. Color selections and qualities of the fabric and materials further enhance this design intent. The business center on LL1 offers residents the opportunity to work from home in a professional and contemporary workplace environment. Within a narrow footprint, the designers created a business center with three distinct zones including private break-out rooms, communal tables, and a row of lounge chairs – all with views to the Chicago River. ¬¬A large structural column posed a potential challenge for the designers when designing the furniture layout for the two center offices but the design team creatively incorporated the column into the design by establishing built-in banquet seating with a work table. The center’s zoned areas successfully accommodate a variety of work styles and purposes, providing residents with luxury amenities as well as flexibility and creative workplace interiors. The 46th floor amenity level provides expansive views of the Chicago skyline for all to experience: a deck and double-height fitness center offer opportunities for relaxing and exercising, while the upscale Sky Lounge provides options for entertaining guests.
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Gary Jet Center’s new private airport project had one goal: To convince clients and crew that Gary was worthy of luxury travel. A boutique experience was created with a concierge greeting upon arrival, an espresso bar, and luxurious powder rooms crafted specifically with Beyonce in mind. Seating areas were designed for user comfort for both solo travelers and entire entourages alike to feel private or spread out, all with integrated power for work on the go. Textures and upholsteries of deep greens and rich blues offset the softer blush and salmon tones, providing a refreshing and uplifting palette for travelers about to take flight. Airy, cloud-like pendant lights provide a landscape of visual interest while a warming central fireplace grounds the lobby space. For the pilots, customized lounges with unique amenities allow for areas of refuge and recharge after a long flight. Additional amenity areas including conference spaces, game rooms, and nap rooms were designed with a residential approach for maximum comfort. The careful consideration of each user’s experience throughout the space results in the Gary Jet Center feeling like a boutique hotel escape for even the most luxurious traveler.
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Our team is so proud to have been part of this beautiful project! Given its stunning location blessed with such spectacular views, working on this property represented a rewarding collaboration between owner, architect, and designer. This project encompassed a complete re-imagining of the property’s two-bedroom suite with 12 new custom-designed suites incorporated in a building recently added to the property. The design blends coastal ambiance with customized modern details. Combining traditional coastal shingle architecture with contemporary interiors embraces the property's location through design, texture, and locally inspired artwork and accessories. Each two-bedroom suite includes a fully equipped kitchen, living room with fireplace, dining room, five-fixture bathroom, as well as a fully furnished deck. The suites were designed to cater to romantic couples as well as vacationing families eager to entertain. The finishes and furnishings encourage guests to feel as though they were relaxing at their home away from home. Hand-scraped wood, wide-plank hardwood flooring, and custom hand-tufted area rugs all establish a sense of welcoming luxury. Comfortable custom seating throughout integrates a variety of textures and patterns allowing guests to sit back and unwind. Some of the challenges the team encountered with this project was the site and how to maximize the guest opportunity to views while not negatively impacting the existing guest experience. Timing was also a challenge being able to start and complete the project in time for the properties high season. We are proud to have been part of this project and even more proud to be continuing work at this beautiful site.
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With a 1,600 square foot space formerly known as a flower shop, the main challenges we faced were the locations and size of concrete structure in relationship to the natural restaurant flow. Additionally, the client had a very clear vision of a space that felt modern and minimalistic while projecting a warm and inviting atmosphere that would accommodate an extensive collection of greenery. In an effort to maintain the organic flow of the space we decided to embrace the large concrete column located in the center of the front dining space. We designed a 13-foot long communal table with a blackened steel supporting structure and natural oak wood top. This structure wraps around the existing large column and provides a “ceiling” frame where a varied collection of hanging planters reside. We also incorporated a suspended shelf along the south window to accommodate greenery above the dining rail. In order to give the space the minimalistic yet warm atmosphere we decided to maintain all of the exiting exposed concrete structures (ceiling, columns and floor) but added rich wood textures throughout. Some of the main elements are the scalloped shingle die wall at the order counter resembling fish scales, and the slat wood ceiling at the order counter and back dining space. Tables, chairs and banquettes also incorporate wood elements to tie into the bigger design components. Lastly, lighting played a very important role in this design with the utilization of plant maintenance lights throughout the space.
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Cushman & Wakefield sought to consolidate its real-estate footprint, which in turn presented an opportunity to create a headquarters reflecting their new global brand and culture. Our firm crafted flexible and collaborative workspaces, capitalizing on existing vistas and outdoor access in an effort to enrich the social experience of Cushman’s employees. Cushman’s new “home” also presented a series of challenges that in the end yielded dramatic and inspiring results. We converted a 10,000SF law library into a shared work lounge; featuring a 22’ barrel vault ceiling, sweeping views of the Chicago River, and a 16’x9’ media display embedded in a towering millwork feature. One of the greatest challenges was providing a holistic work environment. Together, our teams achieved LEED and WELL Certifications, encompassing good design practiced; such as height-adjustable workstations, concentration spaces, social hubs, healthy food access, and access to a rooftop patio with green roof and walking path.
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The design concept was to provide a private, soothing and peaceful environment for our clients to reconnect and relax in an urban setting. The 5700 square foot residence is a short walk from the Pacific Ocean and the downtown streets of Venice, California. The house’s H-shaped plan, with its wings overlooking serene interior gardens, hides the extreme density and adjacent homes. The architecture, which was originally designed by the previous owner, was updated to improve the flow and functionality of the home. The clients were impacted greatly by the new design. New furnishings, landscaping, and mechanical systems all were selected and designed to enhance the peacefulness of the house with sound proofing as a priority. An upgraded lighting system and lamping throughout the house increased energy efficiency and added to the owners’ usability. The design scheme was kept simple and casual. Iconic and vintage pieces mixed with contemporary furnishings complement the urban beach setting. Combining many of the objects and art that had been collected over years of travel bridge the old and new. The color scheme is serene but has contrast with pops of color to provide visual interest and keep the space young.
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From its mid-19th century beginnings, Brunswick has been known for innovation. Finding themselves in a work environment that felt too traditional, leadership sought to use the headquarters relocation as an opportunity to once again announce Brunswick as visionary. Brunswick’s products—from Lifetime Fitness exercise equipment to motor boats to their iconic billiard tables—are seemingly diverse but all are tied together by the common thread of activity. Our design promotes activity in its planning with circulation that doubles as a walking track and spaces for collaborating and connecting with colleagues. A central stair is the practical transition between floors, promoting an opportunity for healthy movement. Details throughout the new headquarters refer to Brunswick’s history and products—the curved wall, reminiscent of a boat hull, and the use of materials found in their products such as wood, steel, felt and slate. As part of the design process, we analyzed the existing workplace and the employees’ levels of satisfaction, which lead to the realization of generationally skewed satisfaction. Young professionals were much less satisfied with the workplace than those well-established in the organization. The new headquarters was a chance to rethink the workplace and find ways to appeal to all generations. Our design solution offers diverse and engaging work settings, locations created specifically to inspire collaboration and innovation.
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The formula for an echo is Velocity=Distance/Time. This equation is the backbone of transportation logistics and the driving force of Echo Global Logistics’ 135,000 sf headquarters expansion within a building that was once an old catalogue warehouse. In total, the expansion doubles the size of the headquarters, adding 1,000 seats. At a deeper level, the great opportunity of this project was to create an experiential brand. This brand is apparent upon entry of the new street-level lobby. Sculpted as four massive voids spelling out ECHO in steel, the lobby sign is weathered like the existing column wrappings. The letters are set at different angles to create an experience for passersby as to how each letter is viewed. Upon entry, the E is perfectly aligned and luminous, while the O appears darker and more abstract. As the individual moves, each letter comes into similar focus as the others become more abstract, changing perception with distance and time. A massive new stair connects the street level with the majority of the new space. Its industrial aesthetic of concrete, steel and chain link feel true to the building’s history—as if it has always been there. Frustrated that stairs from their upper level read simply as negative space, we designed a canopy of undulating, highly polished steel above to reflect the visual energy of the stair, further reinforcing the importance of movement. One’s natural progression from the stair is to the large café. The café is meant to be the social heart of the space. Anchored by a leaderboard of 16 60” monitors, it can be a place for craft beer night or to kick off the NCAA's March Madness tourney. It supports the company’s work-hard-play-hard culture. The main area of the workplace is organized around two main streets, wide enough to be actual streets, which run the entire length of the space north to south. The streets can host all sorts of activities, from quick team meetings at one of the several breakout spaces to outreach fairs for charities. Backing onto the streets are four necessary additions to the building—restrooms. We wrapped the blocks, roughly the size of semi-trailers, with graphics interpreting Echo slogans in the bad-ass vernacular of custom rigs, creating distinct points of reference within the large space. Continuing the allusions to the trucking industry, team huddle rooms are realized as loading dock bays, lined up and numbered with signage that illuminates as the bay is occupied. Steel anchors the far end of the space. One feature wall is inscribed with US shipping routes. Lastly, is the formula itself, again, illuminated voids of letters within the weathered steel, which acts as a beacon to employees entering from the company’s other floor within the building. V=D/T, a billboard preparing those who enter to be changed as they experience the space.
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Skender Construction’s new headquarters reflects their continued growth, maturity, and expression of their business and social culture. The resulting office space is of its context in the industrial-charged neighborhood of the West Loop, positioned within a repurposed parking garage. Upon entry, a steel framed ceiling/lighting element draws you into the large flexible central café hub space that supports multiple daily functions. Adjacent to the café hub are 3 large flexible phase rooms, unfolding to create a large internal meeting and social space. The open plan includes sit-stand desks lining the perimeter allowing all-day access to natural light. The open plan also provides a variety of meeting spaces to support choice of how and where to work. Throughout the space, the brand message integrates within the architecture. From the face wall (expressing the vibrant culture of their office) to the lean coffee wall (that allows their employees to express their creative freedom) the message is always about their people. The Skender persona expounds through the materials holding up a mirror to the everyday, tangible resources construction teams come into contact with such as exposed ceilings/floors, gabion wall, and exposed column capitals representing the framework of construction projects.
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As the college campus is integral to the company, the design uses the campus as a framework. The story begins as one steps off the elevators. The walls are clad in steel--a subtle reference to the steel structures the company builds—as is the wall behind the reception desk. Opposite, a custom curving green wall provides a backdrop. The wall’s plants also form a graphic of an aerial view of a campus plan, tracing the diagonal cuts that would take students diagonally across the quad. The campus plan graphically depicted in this feature wall also informs the floorplan. The workplace is essentially broken into four main blocks of open office with corridors cutting through at diagonals, all surrounding a central quad area. Following the green wall takes you along the boardroom’s curving glass and into the “quad”—a multipurpose café and workspace. The centerpiece of the quad is the curving bar that wraps the green wall. With beer taps and an Italian espresso machine, this is the social heart of the office, where all paths cross. While the CEO sits in the same bench workspace as most of the staff, he has an adjacent meeting area. The privacy of this area is controlled by moveable screens that can either completely enclose the space or fully recede into their pocket. The screen pattern reflects shadows of leaves on a campus sidewalk, further tying the space to the company’s campus roots.
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Moment is a 47-story, 540-unit luxury apartment tower in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The sophisticated and elegant interior design brings to life the client’s vision of developing a residential tower centered on wellness, vitality, and mindfulness. The development boasts over 40,000 square feet of amenity space, split between two floors. The rooftop features an outdoor pool, sundeck, and lounge with views of the city and Lake Michigan. The main amenity deck is located on the ninth floor and offers a variety of social spaces including a community lounge, library, and media room. A wellness center offering fitness, yoga studio, and sauna and steam rooms overlooks a large, elevated outdoor lawn. A small serenity garden provides residents with a more private, quiet outdoor space for reflection. The interior design for the project was inspired by the notion of an urban retreat – a light, bright, and comfortable environment nestled amongst an active cityscape. Through the use of light wood, a cool color palette, modern finishes, and elegant fixtures, the design evokes a sense of ease and respite; it provides residents with an environment conducive to stress relief.
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The concept draws on the adrenaline one feels when competing. The essence of pause that comes with each of these moments brings upon a focus that leads to athletic accomplishment; the split second where one can hear their own heartbeat.
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The Physics Research Center (PRC) is the new home for theoretical and experimental physics at the University of Chicago. The center was designed as an adaptive reuse of an existing midcentury modern research building – including a gut renovation of the majority of the interior space, a complete new enclosure, and two new occupied floor levels over the existing structure. Sited on the University’s North Science Quad, surrounded by large research buildings, the PRC was conceived as their human-scale counterpart, a building that celebrates the legacy and stature of physics at the University with refinement, rather than size. The original building, called the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research (LASR), was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and completed in 1964. The simple, rational LASR building, characterized by an expressed structure and wide floor plates, presented challenges for renovation due to its intricate reinforced concrete joists and girders, shallow floor-to-floor heights, and uninsulated enclosure. The University chose to retain the existing structure in part to maintain and protect a landmark research project that has been operating continuously in the building since the 1960s. The reuse of the existing structure also reduced the environmental impact and influenced the design of the new construction. Beyond providing modern facilities, the University of Chicago saw this project as an opportunity to consolidate the theorists and experimentalists into a single building. The PRC program was developed to facilitate the engagement between these disciplines with support for both individual focus and group work. The program introduced collaboration spaces for the physicists, which offered the potential for more effective meeting and discourse, but also potential concerns about acoustics. This balance between private focus and group engagement emerged as the primary design challenge in this project. To address the physicists’ concerns, the concept design was diagrammed to clarify the arrangement of public vs private space. This concern was further addressed with extensive acoustic analysis and detailing (finishes, underlayment) throughout the building. This building includes new flexible experimental physics labs and special purpose instrument labs. The design team located light- and electromagnetic-sensitive labs in the building’s interior and basement, taking advantage of the existing building massing and maximizing daylighting on the broad lower levels. Contrary to current workspace trends, which emphasize open office environments, the workspaces in the PRC are primarily private offices, which offer acoustic separation and individual temperature and lighting control. The offices are grouped into neighborhoods for research sub-disciplines. At the connection points between these neighborhoods, small collaboration nodes provide natural breakout space for impromptu discussions. There are also enclosed conference rooms and semi-enclosed lounges to support a variety of meeting types. Shared spaces are connected to natural light, outdoor views, and dining. Vertical circulation increases chance encounters between people, a nudge toward communication and collaboration. A seminar room, which hosts regular lectures, colloquia, and conferences, is cantilevered out from the existing structure, with an expansive window wall that frames the interior activities of PRC for the North Science Quad. The placement and disposition of the room highlights its role as the most public space in the building. This formal, scheduled room is complemented by a lunch commons that serves as the informal center of the PRC. The central location, double-height glass wall, and chalkboard walls make it a natural gathering space for group meals and lunchtime talks. An open stairwell connects circulation across two floor levels. An adjoining roof terrace extends this space to the outdoors and provides a unique vantage point above the quad. The PRC is now a world-class research center on a world-class, architecturally renowned campus—a place that will impact scientific research for decades to come.
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In renovating the historic location of Goose Island's first brewery and tap room, the primary challenge was to bring Goose into the future while honoring its legacy as both a Chicago institution and a pioneer in American craft brewing. In the wake of their international rollout with AB InBev, all eyes were on Goose Island, with an unspoken pressure to preserve the unique history and iconic significance of Chicago’s beloved brand while renewing and elevating its status in the public eye. Part of this challenge involved envisioning a concept that would connect the people who visit Goose Island to the product and process of craft brewing. Community has always been at the heart of the Goose Island experience, bringing people together to discuss, discover and enjoy craft beer for 30 years. It was necessary that any redesigns remain true to that spirit engaging guests through both aesthetic and experiential enhancements. Another unique challenge was bringing all the stakeholders together to collaborate on this project. It was crucial that the vision for Goose Island's future satisfied the needs and desires of all of its partners, from Goose Island and AB InBev, to the architectural firm and general contractor. To unite future with past, we made sure to retain some of the brewery’s historical elements while completely re-envisioning the space. For example, we reconditioned the iconic 30-year-old "Brewpub" sign back to its full glory. The new look perfectly balances the rawness of Goose Island's urban, gritty and traditional roots with a refined aesthetic signifying its evolution as a brand. The past and future of Goose Island are further reflected in two new bars designed to highlight the brand's versatility. The clean and modern Main Taproom bar showcases a brushed-aluminum 28-tap tower and pipes that run along the ceiling to the brewery, while the Vintage Ale Bar boasts a traditional aesthetic and offers a selection of specialty brews. To attain our goal of connecting people, product and process, we opened up the space to create a sense of transparency. Brewing facilities previously seen through a window are now visible behind full-height glass walls. Brewery and tasting tours highlight the craft brewing process, giving guests the chance to engage first-hand with Brewmasters. In fact, the entire space is designed to inspire conversation about beer—with a newly revamped, curated menu and beer pairings offering more reasons to linger. The design company rose to the final challenge of encouraging collaboration by taking the role as owner’s representative. He became the glue that bonded a multi-layered team of partners, integrating each party's voices into a cohesive and successful concept.
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Financial juggernaut CapitalOne set out to position its offices in Chicago as the top destination for financial professionals. Several of Chicago’s top architecture firms were hired for various floors of their offices at the iconic 77 W Wacker tower, with our firm chosen to design the most visible and prestigious: the building’s top two floors. Our designers created an open, airy space by applying an ethereal design concept and palette. We embraced the openness by suspending the mezzanine level from the slab above, keeping a visual connection between floors while maintaining the space below free from columns. Blue glass and carpet tile was also used throughout the space to echo the sky, working harmoniously with cloudy whites and graphical representations of wind patterns splashed on walls and floors. Warm, mid-century modern furniture and lounge chairs grounded this otherwise “office in the clouds” concept, with breakout spaces in all four corners, each with its own unique view. By centering sit-to-stand workstations, ceiling panels, and light fixtures against the building’s large windows, we not only kept the design flush with the building’s beautiful architecture, but also ensured that every employee could enjoy the pristine views of Chicago’s skyline, river, and lake. Once the domain of private offices or board rooms, the corner office view has been democratized for the next generation.
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This successful relocation of a 168,000 SF corporate headquarters proved to be the perfect opportunity to create the highly transparent, collaborative and branded environment desired by GGP. Fostering a democratic approach to sharing the daylight, private offices and conference rooms are internalized while most employees sit near the glass line. Low-height furnishings ensure unobstructed views, allowing for an abundance of natural light throughout the space, and team collaborative areas occupy the space normally reserved for prestigious corner offices. A centralized conference center, along with interchangeable private offices and smaller meeting rooms, provides for future flexibility; a mandatory consideration in the eyes of this forward-thinking organization and today’s ever changing office environment. Strategically placed communal “Hubs” create a common area on each floor that’s designed to gather, promote impromptu meetings, encourage a culture of teamwork and foster knowledge sharing. Ordered with an elegant palette of white walls, warm ceilings and textured floor finishes, with lighting systems that highlight this logical and structured environment, the design solution weaves the interactive areas and mix of workspace types together to create an intuitive system of wayfinding over this 3 floor project. Designed and constructed within a 10 month timeline, this collaborative project serves as testimony to the power of teamwork, proving the impossible…is possible!
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Rarely can an organization say their building is the first of its kind. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, is an example of a facility that redefines the term “innovation" — it was designed to make a transformative difference in the way science and care coexist. The client's vision was to reshape the future of rehabilitation and transform the way discoveries are applied to advance human ability. The design is a reflection of that vision both inside and out. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the number one destination for adults and children with the most severe, complex conditions — from traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries to stroke, cancer, and amputation. The 1.2 million SF facility is the first-ever “translational" research hospital where clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists work together in shared, flexible spaces, surrounding patients, discovering new approaches and applying (or “translating") research in real time. Concepts integral to translational health drove planning and design. Here, research doesn't just coexist with patient care — it's integrated full-time into the clinical environment, engaging patients in the process. Each of the five ability labs, applied research and therapeutic spaces, provide for both active and visible “front stage" patient work with clinicians and researchers. Then, each lab has a private, heads-down “back stage" space for analysis and planning. Likewise, technology is embedded throughout. Clinicians and researchers measure every aspect of patients' activities to mine data that will improve outcomes faster and enable researchers to learn and share new insights in real-time. The design complements this approach: every inch of the building is designed for healthcare and every inch is designed for research. ABILITY LABS The ability labs combine research and clinical care in a shared space to shorten the feedback loop between clinicians, patients, and researchers — driving innovation of new solutions to maximize human ability. Each ability lab addresses different medical conditions and assists patients with very different challenges. The five lab types are 'Think + Speak', 'Legs + Walking', Arms + Hands', 'Strength + Endurance', and 'Pediatrics.' The design challenge was to identify and elaborate those stories working closely with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's team, and from there to extrapolate into the physical sphere. The design team prioritized ideas capable of supporting a culture of hope, optimism and achievement, and took these principles into the custom design of workplace, interior architecture, furniture, graphics, and therapy equipment to fully realize the hospital's unique vision. PATIENT USER EXPERIENCE The Patient User Experience has multiple touch points and extends along the entire patient journey — from entering the facility to arriving at patient rooms. This experience is manifested through the design in many ways, from the extra wide corridors curved at every corner for better sight lines and mobility to optimized spaces that communicate wellness. For instance, many patients enter the facility lying on their backs. Therefore, an early decision was made to prioritize the design of ceilings to connect with those patients In addition, motivational interior graphics and wayfinding support the mission of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. Access to natural light is maximized. Extensive landscaping and green space throughout the upper spaces afford access to gardens for patients and visitors. East and west corridors are punctuated by vistas to give patients and visitors a break from the rigorous therapy and offer dramatic views of Chicago and Lake Michigan.
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A space within a space -- Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse houses one of Chicago’s most elite champagne rooms. The challenge was to create intrigue while revealing enough impactful details to cause curiosity amongst diners – and to create an elegant and feminine room that “screams champagne”. With that in mind we designed an “undulating” wall to create a harmonious flow between the vertical access points and the steakhouse’s dining spaces on the third floor. Behind this dark charcoal grey wall, there is a light and airy space with plush comfortable seating and delicate architectural details. The floors are made up of rich chevron oak planks that collide into a mosaic marble floor inset framing the curved bar. Above the bar, a hand-blown glass globe installation hangs over the space resembling champagne bubbles. The main accent elements incorporate brass and copper details that tie back to the inherent and recognizable champagne and rose tones. Seating in the space was extremely important as the main goal was to give it that comfort you find at home. We incorporated residential style lounge and wing chairs in smaller clustered grouping for a more intimate experience. The larger banquette style seats showcase tightly tufted backs and custom marble cocktail tables.
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In less than two years, marketing software company ActiveCampaign quadrupled its staff, becoming a buzz-worthy name in the tech industry and one of the fastest growing companies in Chicago. The CEO and founder envisioned a new office that was truly employee-centric, and wanted to avoid the monotony of a large corporate office. Our challenge was to create a warm, energetic workplace that embodied the company culture, while creating zones for presentation, collaboration, focus and relaxation in the new headquarters. In order to make the workplace functional and comfortable for the staff, we created a variety of spaces to suit all kinds of work styles: large and small, formal and informal, open and closed, high tech and low tech. Bold branding enhances the perforated metal and light reception desk, capturing the company’s unique spirit with a memorable first impression. Original crown molding and large windows hint at the history of the building, melding with rustic, industrial materials, and references to ActiveCampaign’s fantasy and sci-fi loving nerd culture. The space was chose to eventually accommodate 350 people, since ActiveCampaign anticipates reaching that number relatively soon. However, when they began occupying the space, they had less than half of that number of staff. So, another challenging aspect was making a thoughtful plan for them to grow into the space, and keeping the open office from looking like a field of desks. We also wanted to make sure the staff was near the abundant natural light at their workstations, and knew we needed to make the best corners shared lounge space. We helped the client maintain team morale by collaborating with staff on some of the quirkier design elements. Colorful LED lights and textured paneling enhance a whopping 57 conference rooms, named by the staff after fictitious locations from comic books, video games, movies and novels. We also used bright, corner lounge spaces to break up color-coded “neighborhood” zones. Coined the “sad space” by the CEO early in the design process, a remote, alley-facing, dark area of the office was transformed into a shelf-lined game room and leisure area with the feel of an old-fashioned men’s club. In the aptly named Knowhere, one bookshelf doubles as revolving door, hiding a speakeasy-style lounge for all of those happy hour strategy sessions.
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The new office building houses three floors of workspace for the Cubs front-office management and baseball operations. This much-needed addition to Wrigleyville updated the Cubs window-less offices and greatly improved the workplace for current and future employees of the franchise. The office coincided with the re-emergence of the Cubs brand and the 2016 World Series win. This energy was infused into their new space with iconic notes fit only for Wrigley. Brick and traditional ivy wall accents surround employees as they navigate Cubs lore, a branded café, and activity room. Hints of the outfield are transitioned inside with a stadium-inspired lighting feature that shines above an atrium stair where black iron framing and reclaimed wood elements dominate. When the project commenced, multiple stakeholders and user groups were identified, each with a different workstyle and programmatic space need. To address the needs of this diverse and growing workforce, the designers planned for flexibility and grouped neighborhoods by function. Shared offices surround open floor plates, executive suites, and a hospitality event space, just a ‘pitch’ away from Wrigley Field. The engaging event space was placed on the top floor adjacent to an outdoor terrace and is used for parties and game day celebrations throughout the season. On off-days or away games, it serves as an interactive workplace setting. The new office provides spaces for varied work styles and opportunities to collaborate in inspirational, thought-provoking settings. With 100% height-adjustable desking and television views from every angle, employees will never miss a game. An oversized, horseshoe-shaped sofa and ottoman allows staff to view games on six large television screens during the height of baseball season. Multiple lounge settings on each floor provide more of a living room feel than an office environment. The introduction of hospitality and residential design into a workplace setting provides the accommodations to support the idea that everyone works differently. With a space that infuses work and play, the attraction and retention goals of the Cubs are an easy home run. In addition to these improvements, sustainability was kept at the forefront. Daylighting and views for a healthier workplace, biophilic accents such as wood and ivy, repurposed materials, and occupancy sensors throughout are just a few of the more visible eco-friendly aspects. Features like reduced-flow plumbing, low-VOC paints and adhesives, and recycled content are the more behind-the-scenes happenings that contribute points towards the pursuance of LEED-CI certification.
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When the Napleton Automotive Group invested in new corporate headquarters building, they wanted to "Cool it up". The goal was to reposition Napleton’s national corporate brand to reflect next generation thinking and Family ownership transitions. To do that, the architect deconstructed the existing typical office build out and reduced it to express the bare concrete structure and developed an open plan that would reflect stair stepping exterior walls. By integrating expanded metal ceilings with alternating stepped LED lighting and primary color accent strips in floor, the plan took on a completely fresh appeal. Interior Branding included integrating 60 years of dealership neon signs on stepping walls that provide open visibility across the open floor plan from east to west. An unexpected display of two mint condition classic cars as you step off the 6th floor elevator makes this a memorable statement for a true "Captain of the Industry".
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Capturing the emotion of a brand that has been a platform for imagination and delivered smiles for 100 years, Radio Flyer's new workplace refreshed it's manufacturing warehouse into a uniquely authentic and inspirational place to work and innovate for the next 100 years. A reimagination of how their employees work introduced a new site masterplan concept, one that drew it's entrance off two highly trafficked roads and to a more intimate side street. In so doing, they asked that the new first impression and front entry spur the imagination to wonder and dream into the future. A new channel glass façade and larger-than-life front doors transform the east side of the art deco manufacturing facility. Memories of Radio Flyer products and the imagination they inspire drove the concept of the larger-than-life doors. Young and old alike are intrigued by their size and with the glimpse of an oversized Coasterboy flying just behind them. Meaningful cultural occasions of the Flyer employees are announced by color shifting LEDs that backlight the channel glass façade throughout the year. The Heritage Area celebrates the brand's legacy of innovation displaying product from the original Liberty Coaster wagon to the cans of gasoline they manufactured during World War II. The space tells stories of the product in context with world events through larger than life picture frames, wall displays, and nostalgic pair of tin can telephones. The workplace celebrates the history of the family with a plan organized similar to that of a home. The kitchen and café has a 32 foot long communal table that anchors the space, providing a humble place for co-workers to socialize and collaborate. The family room is an open working lounge with flexible seating that is reimagined throughout the course of each day to support the needs of their employees, The Flyers. The Playlab is a unique product testing area where prototypes are evaluated in a flexible teaming area by way of an expansive one-way window. The space is labeled the Test Track, inviting kids to wonder, imagine, and play in an open sky-lit area with acoustic murals on three of its walls. Beneath the restored warehouse sawtooth roof, The Flyers work in an open plan environment equipped with sit to stand desks and personal storage areas, including scooter parking for those that choose to roll rather than walk around the facility. Chicago artist Anthony Lewelin animates the west wall of the workplace with a vibrant and interpretive mural, above which, a portion of the original overhead wagon transport system was restored. Wagons are displayed like they were 80 years ago, flying overhead from the paint station toward the drying area. With views to the Backyard, the sun-filled space honors the building's history while providing Flyers with a work environment that balances health, technology, and well-being. The Backyard was created after portions of the manufacturing buildings were demolished, making way for an amazing outdoor amenity for the employees. It's lush landscape is comprised of native and adaptive plantings, diverse walking paths, and a central lawn space that accommodates group activities and picnics. It also contains a cistern to capture rainwater, geothermal technology, and a bioswale network, all of which contributed to it being certified a LEED Platinum project.
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Comprised of three distinct zones, Roche Diagnostics’ new Learning and Development Center is organized around double-height, sky-lit spaces. North-facing, vertical sawtooth skylight monitors introduce daylight deep into the center of the nave-like plan. Bright white metal and glass establishes a modern aesthetic and consistent brand identity for the Indianapolis campus for the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company. Overlooking the diagnostic laboratories located on the ground floor below, designated Training and Educational zones are located on the second floor. Open, flexible break out spaces are located intermittently between formal meeting rooms, while the adjacent atrium openings enables guests to view the diagnostic laboratories while participating in formal training sessions. Embodying Roche’s commitment to energy efficiency, the building features a series of functional elements that characterize the architectural form and are emblematic of the scientific functionalism inherent in Roche’s products. Incorporating strict requirements for environmental sustainability, simplicity, and efficiency using the vocabulary of modernist architecture, the building established the architectural grammar of this site for the 21st century.
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For more than 25 years, Optimo has been a leading maker of handcrafted hats for a global clientele. Located in Beverly, Illinois, a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, Optimo’s recently completed headquarters consolidates its design, operations, and production spaces inside a renovated 100-year old former City of Chicago-owned firehouse. Designed to create an efficient and collaborative workflow, the new headquarters more than doubles Optimo’s production capacity while accommodating future expansion. Expressed as a contemporary workshop with an industrial aesthetic, the design draws from a palette of refined, understated materials, including blackened steel, walnut, and cork. Elegant steel casings frame task and ambient lighting above workstations; custom floor-to-ceiling shelving houses unique hat forms and molds; rolling racks mobilize and organize hats for seamless access on the factory floor; modern and antique machinery are finished uniformly in matte black, and restored glazed-brick walls wrap the daylit double-height space. On the second floor, an expansive studio space serves as a design atelier to host clients and guests. Remnants of the original firehouse can be seen throughout, including porthole windows flush to the floor where firepoles once stood, allowing visual connections to the workroom below. Mounted to the ceiling, a 10-foot-wide handcrafted circular light fixture anchors the room, while an immense walnut table recalls the design of the factory workbenches below. Framing the east wall, full-height steel shelves display a collection of objects collected from decades of hat making. Adjacent to the atelier, a private office is delineated by open shelving designed in the same style as the industrial carts used on the production floor. Leather sofas, brass light fixtures, and dark walls create a comfortable ambiance in the lounge area. Located behind the south wall, a full-scale kitchen is finished with marble repurposed from the original firehouse showers.
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The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education is responsible for the identification, development and promotion of standards pertaining to the ongoing education of physicians and medical personnel. Their mission is to constantly improve the performance of physicians and the medical care that they provide to patients. We partnered with ACCME to create brand-new headquarters that accurately align with the goals of the organization and the needs of those who use it. Through a visioning session, two overarching themes that emerged were precision and a nurturing engagement, which drove our design in creating a less corporate, but more residential environment by balancing the needs of employees, stakeholders and visitors in a collaborative, warm and elegant atmosphere. The space strikes a balance between these two concepts resulting in a beautiful environment highlighted by strong architectural detailing and hospitality-focused breakout spaces. We specifically designed areas to be welcoming and relaxed to promote interactions that build consensus with ACCME’s various constituents. The space also balances the needs of the public and ACCME staff. A central corridor links the public reception space with the staff space to create a modular office that can be easily modified to suit the varying needs of employees, stakeholders, and visitors over time. Finishes and architectural elements include white marble, rich Walnut and infusions of royal blue. Windows are exposed to bring in natural light and showcase the architecture of the Chicago skyline.
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MilliporeSigma’s purpose is to solve the toughest problems in life science through collaboration, and that purpose drives its new Life Sciences Center. From closed huddle rooms to training rooms to open teaming spaces, the workplace offers options for staff to choose the right location based on the type of work. On top of spaces intended for work-related meetings, the social hubs are spaces on each floor that allow for less formal collaboration and encourage social interaction among employees, which in turn spark innovation. While internal collaboration is important, Millipore also addresses the need for collaboration with clients with the M Lab. The M Lab is a space where Millipore is able to interact with their customers and clients, showcasing their work within the first floor of the building. This space allows Millipore to train new customers and tackle troubleshooting issues for clients. The design powerfully represents the MilliporeSigma’s brand. Against a crisp white surround, bold brand colors burst in vibrant blues, magenta, chartreuse and purple. Hexagonal forms, both suggestive of molecular formulas and forms within MilliporeSigma’s brand. The shape manifests as portals, surrounds around seating areas, and perhaps most evocatively in the ceiling over the two-story reception and mezzanine space. The company and the research center were created by chemistry, and the design announces that to staff, guests and clients—from the historical displays of milestone products to the windows into the development of tomorrow’s innovations.
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Planning Strategy: With a pronounced perimeter window line, it was important to disengage the workstations from the window line to freely float the benching stations and thus optimize usage. This also gave permission for the perimeter bays to be used by all, rather than only the workstations immediately adjacent to the windows. Answering the call to engage the staff upon entering the elevator lobby, the design team relocated the client standard stock ticker from the belt line of the wall to the base line so as to stay in the eye-range of the staff as they walked and looked at their mobile devices. Increased Metrics: The USF/person was decreased to 123 USF/person, while the conference room space was increased from 1:6 ratio (conference seat: head count) to a 1: 1.5 ratio. In addition to the enclosed meeting spaces over 170 seats for open collaboration & alternative work areas were provided. There were also worship rooms, wellness rooms and private phone rooms in addition to the multiple cafes & coffee bars. Compliance & Security: As with any financial institution, security (internal & external) is a major factor in the design. This project was no different and added an additional layer of European guidelines which had to be met while still working within the boundaries of Chicago’s fire-life-safety requirements. Infrastructure: In addition to the architectural coordination required for the two generators, roof top cooling units, supplemental air for the trading floor and other mission critical requirements; the team created a 2-story reception area and designed a floating stair which hangs from the above ceiling structure.
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With a goal to teach one million kids to code, the founders of Codeverse challenged us to create a classroom of the future. The dynamic classroom allows children to control the colors of lights, make sounds move around the room, create games on a large tv display and operate robotic arms. The design concept includes organic curves in the walls, floors and ceiling elements to encourage free movement around the room. Small nooks and hidden rooms create an exciting environment for children to explore and find the best spot for them to learn. A large, custom built, curved ramp - known as the "command couch" - allows children to relax while programming video games on a 20 foot wide tv display. The futuristic aesthetic is accented by a large moss wall display with the Codeverse logo in it, suggesting our future classrooms will certainly have greenery incorporated in them.
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Bringing AAR Corp's headquarters into the next generation, this design firm radically transformed the company workplace. Collaborating with leading corporate real estate partners, the team created a more effective density plan and democratized AAR's community. The next generation workplace evolution challenge is facing every corporation today. Legacy facilities that are obsolete for today's workforce must be abandoned or radically reformed to attract and retain talent. After a year of planning a new "greenfield" headquarter design, this aerospace company decided to stay put and refresh their dark cluttered 40-year old facility saving ten million dollars. At the same time, they needed to increase the density by adding 100 seats within the existing 4 walls. The design maximized density by increasing work seats and optimized productivity by opening up shared activity and communal lounge spaces within the existing four walls. To accomplish this, the workstation was completely reinvented and designed around an existing 20' x 20' column grid that now disappears in a fully utilized, collaborative team environment. Open spaces were created around a more effective density plan, adding skyline atrium and a central full-service café that creates a company plaza. The design supports a democratized community where CEO and plant worker whose path had seldom crossed before in the past, can now sit together and catch up on the last 15 years of working toward a common goal.
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The leadership team of this design firm wished to build a transformational culture, rather than a transactional one, in their Chicago office. We strove for transparency, accountability, open dialogue and constructive criticism, with the goal of creating an inclusive process involving every team member. Three years in their original location, the shortcomings of their space began to impede their work and undermine their cultural aspirations. The office did not speak to their process or facilitate it, nor did it offer the ability to host clients, speak to their brand or help recruit talent. Realizing the urgent need for a new office space in Chicago, the design firm’s leadership team began an honest, open dialogue to ensure that everyone was aligned. The team included trusted partners advising on real estate, construction, lighting, acoustics and engineering. They drew upon internal talent in building systems, energy modeling, place performance, WELL buildings, LEED and lean process improvement to bring the same level of critical thinking that they would utilize for a client. They conversed with the firm’s leadership to understand their vision for the Chicago office, and what we proposed represented a dramatically different approach than had previously considered. In a series of dialogues, they engaged their colleagues about what worked, and what did not, to help envision a space that would encourage the culture desired. Their guiding principles became a touchstone throughout the course of the project. To better understand how people worked, they engaged in research. Through an inclusive approach, they moved toward solutions that would achieve results based on acceptance by the users. The result is a living studio supporting their growth and evolution. A space that offers them, creative, entrepreneurial people with diverse personalities and needs, the choice of environments for group and individual work. It challenges and pushes them to rethink their engagement and relationships with vendors, partners and clients. Their people and process are visible, allowing them to invite clients in, not as someone to be held at arm’s length, but as a partner and a co-creator.
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As OKW Architects anticipates the 60 year milestone of successful client relationships and project design, we celebrate this journey with an exciting, new brand experience. We are proud of our brand’s distinct style as well as the design process that led us to its inception. Our rebrand has paid off in more ways than one. The first being our OKW office expansion/renovation. We were able to extend the brand experience to our built environment. OKW Architects’ brand centers around an inclusive approach to design. The planning and design of our renovated office needed to reflect that brand by increasing day-to-day collaboration amongst team members. We achieved this result through two primary strategies: 1) provide employees more choice in types of environments to meet with each other and work with each other; 2) create open site lines throughout the office In addition to the revitalized workspace, our new office also features a spacious reception zone to welcome visitors. This space, which we refer to as ‘The Link’, includes an open kitchen to hospitably serve our guests and is designed for fully flexible use. The Link has visibility into our work environment as well, so that anyone who walks through our front door is immediately engaged in the most important aspect of our space: our creative process and its resulting product.
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A high-profile corner lot presented the opportunity to create a striking entry. Corner glass and a grandiose black metal cantilevered canopy support a refined and classy greeting as visitors step inside. The corner location also proved challenging, however, as usable space became limited after setbacks and parking needs were accounted for, and fire safety requirements restricted where to build. The highly efficient space planning practices resulted in double the treatment rooms of River Walk Family Dental's former office, in a space only slightly larger in square footage. Differing aesthetic tastes between the two doctors, as well as city design guidelines, lead to the design team's clever juxtaposition of otherwise opposing themes. Modern elements are cunningly incorporated into the traditional design through color, detail, and materials. On the exterior, black shingles and white fiber cement siding are accented with black metal windows lending to a modern feel. Natural stone adds warmth and connects the building to its contextual history. Intersecting masses are cloaked in traditional residential materials, yet dramatically defined with geometric shifts in direction and detail. Harking back to the town's farming and agricultural history, the simple forms rejuvenate an architectural style accustomed to by local residents, seamlessly connecting the time honored architectural tradition to the present. Contemporary and traditional aesthetics are unified in the interior by mixing a light, neutral color palette with boldly dark accents. Black light fixtures and trim, and a walnut-stained sculptural staircase centerpiece are energetic and eye-catching against their calm surroundings. Patients enter at ease, feeling an air of class and luxury, and leave feeling positive and comfortable about their visit.
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The recently renovated CalEdison building in downtown LA sets the stage for the relocated leasing office of GGP. Established to attract their retail clientele, this energetic and welcoming environment reflects the casual culture of the west coast by greeting visitors with an open café and laptop lounge, complete with a ping pong table. The raw concrete and exposed ceilings subtly echo GGP’s core values of humility and transparency, accenting the coming together of old meets new at every intersection of the art deco style building and the contemporary interior aesthetic. Low panels at open office workstations and lounge seating for impromptu meetings are designed to cultivate collaboration, set in surroundings that are highlighted with graffiti art by a local artist to celebrate the local art scene and convey an edgy, street-smart vibe.
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CBRE, a well-known global real estate company, decided to consolidate several Chicago suburban offices and its TCC subsidiary into its Oak Brook location and expand and renovate its current space. The newly consolidated office incorporated CBRE’s Workplace 360 initiative, which has no assigned seats and creates various work settings, encouraging employees to be mobile and work anywhere. The workspace types include sit/stand workstations, focus rooms, huddle rooms, conference rooms, touchdown stations, as well as open collaboration areas. The two main collaborative spaces are the HEART and the RISE café. The HEART is a dynamic space simultaneously serving as a concierge, lobby, meeting, and workspace. The RISE café serves as a lower key collaboration lounge with a café function. Both these areas showcase the power of the global CBRE brand, as well as express unique local brand and connections to the suburban Chicago market. These are expressed through a feature map graphic wall, custom glass patterns, as well as glass artwork and local art throughout the space. The CBRE renovation in Oakbrook elevates its connection to the global CBRE network by celebrating growth throughout the greater Chicagoland market. Driven by connections between the urban grid transitioning into the lush pastoral landscapes that surround, this story has been told by balancing warm natural materials with textural urban finishes. Refined details inspired by local fashion and country club culture help to articulate unexpected elements of surprise throughout. The new CBRE space delivers a sophisticated and exciting new experience for clients and staff alike.
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Problem: Create a Dynamic, 21st Century School in a Small Community Where Daylight is Scare During Much of the School Year Designed with current best practices of flexibility and collaboration in mind, this forward-thinking elementary school addresses overcrowding in the district while creating a bright, light-filled learning space for students who experience very little daylight during most of the school year. In addition to maximizing daylight, functionality and community were at the forefront of design. The area around the school is growing, thus Dena’ina is designed as both a school and community center. Spaces are multifunctional, and the school provides after-hours use of select areas while integrating programming with the new middle/high school to bring the community together around its children. To create a strong sense of place and local identity, colorful hanging sculptures and paintings were commissioned from local artists to build cultural pride, and color-changing lighting in the commons area maintains light after the sun goes down. The interior design decisions capture the scarce daylight during the long winters, while creating a sense of community and providing multi-functional spaces in this remote, but steadily growing, part of southern Alaska. Problem: Create a Sustainable Building that Responds to the Unique Climate and Landscape of Southern Alaska The team also followed environmental considerations to create a sustainable facility that responds to the natural landscape. All classrooms face south, providing maximum daylight where students spend the bulk of their time. Spaces shared by the school and community, such as the stage and gym, are located on the north side of the corridor where there are fewer openings to limit climate and wind exposure. Part of the building was constructed underground, significantly decreasing operating costs. Additionally, Alaska is an active seismic zone with a high earthquake hazard rating by the U.S. Geological Survey. The abundant bracing required became a design element: it is visible from the commons and gymnasium, and is the impetus for the design pattern of the interior windows into the classrooms which include lateral bracing behind the solid portion of the walls. This efficiency in planning allowed the creation of additional spaces such as windows, display areas and storage zones in the voids of the structure.
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The challenge with this home was the need create a new look, update the traditional style, while working around some existing pieces of furniture that were to stay in the home. Some of the clients furniture was reupholstered and used in other rooms. We changed the entire color scheme of the home by repainting the walls. This began the process to update the look and feel of their home. The living room fell right off of the foyer and was the focal point as guests came into their home. The piano was the only existing piece we kept in this room. New floor plan was created making the space easy to entertain in. New furniture, lighting, custom drapery, new wall color and faux finish to the fireplace. We also lightened up the built-in bookcase by framing them with molding, painting and adding wallpaper to the background. Dining room furniture stayed, we selected new wall color,wallpaper, lighting, area rug, custom drapery, lighting and reupholstered dining room chairs. Our client was tired of the existing drab, muddy colors in her kitchen so we painted and glazed existing cabinets and added new hardware. We also added new light fixtures, fresh new back splash, new kitchen table with zinc top and chairs, as well as custom roman shades and area rug. Custom floral was added to complete the design. The master bedroom was another space we designed around the existing bedroom furniture. We complemented the furniture with custom bedding and drapery and new wall color. The ceiling is very high, so to add interest and dimension to the room and designed faux beams to the ceiling as well as adding trim detail to the walls. The challenge we faced in this room was finding a solution to reduce natural light coming through the small decorative window. We solved this problem by adding exterior slat system that covered the window as well as interior shutter treatment. Double traversing drapery with blackout lining also helped reduce the amount of light that came into the room. Master bath cabinets were painted and glazed. New hardware, counter top, lighting, mirrors and custom valance completed the look. The office needed work space for the husband and wife to wok at independently. We created a new floor plan including two desk and executive chairs, reupholstered chairs from the living room, re-framed existing art , custom roman shades, and reused living room area rug.
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Transformation requires equal measures of nature and nurture. When untapped human capital and the conditions for growth combine – life flourishes. This non-profit organization’s new facility provides the opportunity to help Chicago’s teens discover and stretch their potential. As part of a predesign workshop, students, staff and alumni of the after-school and summer teen programs shared their vision for effective learning spaces. The resounding desires were for flexible spaces linking the activities of one program space to another and creating an omnipresence of the organization’s culture. Previously an insurance headquarters, this donated building was transformed into a four-story setting that responds to student input for spaces that reflect their personality and encourage collaboration. On each floor, garage doors connect perimeter studios to a central flex space which invites educators to open the doors and create a single free-flowing learning space. Students of all programs share ideas over casual pin ups or gallery displays of their work. Bookended by a commons/lobby and a teaching kitchen, the ground level circulation “boulevard” affords glimpses into vocal, dance and tech studios, creating a dynamic and interconnected community of performance. The new facility will have a huge impact on the organization’s mission of positively transforming the lives of teens and their communities, with approximately 1,500 neighborhood teens annually being served by the new center. The center represents the organization’s first owned space and will serve as a model for teen programming across the city. Finishes include OSB and cement board cladding the walls of public spaces, daring teens to nail to, paint over, mosaic tile on or otherwise customize them to express their creative energy. Vibrant, saturated colors reflect the organization’s brand identity, brighten the studios and simplify wayfinding. Sustainability was at the forefront of the design of the center. The design team’s goal was to re-use as many existing elements as possible while retrofitting for the new use and code compliance. By exposing the existing structure and celebrating raw concrete flooring, the team created an aesthetic from materials already in place, minimizing the carbon footprint. New materials are composed of natural elements – cement board cladding, oriented strand board and steel trim. To provide natural light, new window openings were cut into the building shell, allowing daylight to shine through the glass-clad garage doors of the perimeter studios and into the shared spaces. Civically and socially, the facility offers the community a haven for teens to explore their interests and develop their talents. The new teen center serves as a neighborhood beacon of cultural display and celebration. As the donation of the building met long-standing organizational vision, the organization is itself transformed from a tenant into an owner and operator.
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Housing Morningstar Chicago’s Agile Development team, the 14th floor is the first space within Morningstar’s Global Headquarters to be custom designed to suit the occupants. Each space reflects an aspect of the agile development team’s process – the flexible open workspace with moveable sit-stand desks for changing team dynamics, standup meeting rooms for daily morning scrum meetings and “The Drum”- which serves as an auditorium with bleacher-style seating shaped like their signature logo for mid-sprint cycle and final presentations. Morningstar’s open office environment is easily reconfigurable, with movable light scale desks on casters and floor power and data connectivity laid out on a grid. The new floor was intended for engineering and developer teams, and light controls and versatility of space were key to assuring we met this need. Writable surfaces, lockers, and phone rooms also support impromptu needs and a mobile lifestyle within the office. The overall space was planned as a series of boulevards and pavilions, which defined neighborhoods for the teams. The over-sized boulevards create opportunity for impromptu gatherings, while brightly colored pavilions provide identity and support to the neighborhoods at each of the quadrants of the floor plate.
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One South Dearborn’s ownership group needed to improve their existing amenities program to help retain their anchor tenant and to market themselves as a modern office building. We gave the space a relaxed, lounge vibe to contrast with the building’s conservative, corporate interiors, adding the new amenities to a floor with an existing fitness center and property management office. Now tenants can drop by for a coffee in the lounge, arrange a meeting in the conference room or retreat from the daily grind in the yoga/massage area.
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Intersport, an experiential marketing group focused on sports, hospitality and entertainment, needed a new workspace to accommodate anticipated growth. A casual, “hoodies and jeans” kind of company, Intersport was struggling with an outdated space that didn’t fit the firm’s culture or user patterns. The design team worked closely with the company’s stakeholders in a design process that ultimately helped them define their culture and apply it to their new work environment. The design solution includes ample collaboration and social space, from an upfront reception/teamwork hybrid space, to an in-office bar that doubles as a venue for social events and a showcase for some of their clients’ culinary/beverage brands. Intersport’s new workplace is now a much closer reflection of who they are as a company and how they operate.
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The interior design concept has the feeling of bringing the outside to the inside. The challenge was to create a space has to support the process of teams while allowing a constant change in team sizes. The proposal is a reconfiguration of work areas with mobile desking depending on the occasion. The bi-fold doors that allow the offices to be more private or public depending on the user's needs. For evening expositions, the bi-fold doors are fully open creating a free-flowing space. In addition to the dedicated team spaces, each corner has an amenity to encourage employees to frequent all the spaces. This turns the office into a collaborative brainstorming session for more efficient results.
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What is occurring in malls throughout the United States and their ability to adapt to cultural change, is a significant challenge for the retail industry. This project is an adaptive reuse, transforming an underutilized part of the Mall at Wellington Green and bringing it back to life. This process required some of the most complex, sophisticated, and programmatic challenges that one can encounter. We took a big box furniture retailer and turned that former use into a thriving entertainment district for the mall. The project makes a visitor rethink the psychology of the arrival to the mall. The former dock, what people recognized as the back of the building and a neglected part of the building, became the formal entry into this new entertainment district. This has dramatically transformed the image of place at that part of the mall since its inception. The Starwood Entertainment Complex at Wellington Green is the first of its kind in the Miami-Dade area. The client and theater operator tasked the design team with creating a unique theater experience through textures and materials to be used in clever and unconventional ways. It was imperative that wayfinding and circulation be intuitive and natural while forcing patrons to observe and interact with other mall tenants. Starwood wanted to create a spark of excitement at the mall through dynamic and innovative architecture. The design team achieved these goals through use of lighting elements, colors and textures as wayfinding devices. The renovation has cleverly transformed what was perceived as the service end of the building into a bright new welcoming entry. An existing loading zone, trash enclosure, and transformer yard have been reconfigured and concealed utilizing new architectural elements that initiate an intuitive wayfinding journey. To provide optimized sightlines and acoustics, the existing roof was raised 15’-0” above the its existing position. Using patented technology and techniques, this engineering feat created an overall volume that provides theater goers with an exceptional movie experience. Through use of color and material, the interiors are activated to define the various functions, lounge areas, ticketing, and restaurant entries. All 10 theater auditoriums have a distinct color that is associated with them, providing a playful interaction with movie-goers as they navigate from color coded walls and floor patterns that lead them to their movie experience. The ultimate goal of the project was to increase visibility, awareness, and sales. The theater and adjacent restaurant have been wildly successful and continue to increase foot traffic. The transformative design of the project has cemented itself as an icon for the Wellington community.
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EMME is a LEED Gold Certified residential tower located in the heart of Chicago’s West Loop. This project was designed to be a green sanctuary in a heavily urban neighborhood. Landscaped open spaces are provided at the building entry, the elevated amenity deck and at the rooftop pool deck. More than 8,000 SF of roof area is dedicated to urban farming. At the building entry, a garden plaza serves as the backdrop for the monument commemorating the Haymarket Square riot, which occurred at the site on May 4, 1886. The site planning of EMME responds to the Haymarket monument with a pocket park intended to provide a natural setting for contemplation of the monument. EMME is programmed and designed to promote a sense of community among the residents, and to encourage awareness of sustainable lifestyle practices. Amenity spaces throughout the building are designed to accommodate group activities such as games, co-working, parties and cooking. Special events are programmed to bring residents together and to educate, such as cooking classes by locally renowned chefs using ingredients grown on the rooftop farm. Friendly competitions are held to measure energy efficiencies between different resident floors in the building. Since our inception, GREC Architects has been committed to creating experiential spaces that benefit the community, as well as pushing the boundaries of modern design. We remain focused on advancing Chicago’s architectural experience by delivering thoughtful and engaging environments at every opportunity.
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The space required flexibility as it functions as a coworking office space during the day and an event/retail space in the evening. A large, convertible conference center and lounge are in the two corners of the building intentionally adjacent to the centered reception space. Requirements included open and closed collaboration, 4-person private offices, a 3D printing workshop, and workspace for 70 coworking tenants. The requirements were exceeded in several areas including 76 coworking tenant spaces, an additional private office, extra storage space, and flexible seating placed throughout. Acoustical treatments were used in ceiling elements as well as furniture and applied wall decor. Some tenants require more open collaboration, whereas others must have a heads down focus place to work. These diverse needs and more are met with a variety of working environments from private focus rooms, to benching, and more traditional workstations. Wayfinding elements include flooring, the use of lighting in the corridor and wall color.
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The uniqueness and magnitude of this nearly 3-year long project presented numerous challenges from the start of the process right through to the end. Here is a list of challenges and how those were addressed: ZONING AND PERMITTING: Being that this project was the first of its kind in Chicago, The Department of Buildings could not initially determine a concise and specific use designation that fit under the current official state and local use designations. Through varies meetings and discussions with city leadership the project ended up being classified as "Special Use". After a designation was determined, we also ran into another unique existing issue with the building. The east and west lower levels of the building were actually extended beyond the lot lines and into public way. The simple solution was to make that area available for our clients use. That said, the unique condition was exacting why the client wanted to utilize the space as It met the aesthetic vision of the spa. The solution was to use a rarely utilized designation called, “Public-Way-Use permit”. This allows our client rights to the public-way-space through a lease agreement with the city of Chicago. LIGHT LEVELS: The discerning client wanted a particular ambiance with very low lighting level, which was largely achieved via candles in decorative lanterns, sconces and illuminating the pools themselves. However, due to code requirements for certain foot candles to light exit pathways, strategically placed ambient light fixtures and wall-mounted emergency battery packs were installed to meet both party’s expectations. RETROFITTING ARTIFACTS AND OTHER FINISHES: Much of the success of the end product is due to the abundance of authentic antique artifacts that were timely shipped from overseas, safely stored close to the site and strategically incorporated throughout the space. Such items include sculpted stone fountains, ornately embellished carved wood doors, hand-perforated metal light fixtures and over-sized clay urns. In addition, hundreds of glass wine bottles were shipped directly from a vineyard in Spain in order to create the one-of-a-kind privacy wall separating the red wine bath room from the rest of the pools. The oversized clay urns had to be lifted by crane and brought into the space through a man-made hole in the exterior wall. Existing masonry openings were retrofitted to accommodate antique doors from Spanish cathedrals and originally crafted Spanish bay windows were placed 20’ high into position via a pulley lifting system. Lastly, over 10,000 sf of White Spanish Stone slabs were also shipped, creatively stored and carefully installed in all the pools and throughout the spa areas. We also sprayed all existing structure including the wood beams, masonry and steel joists with a fire-rated, satin clear coat finish allowing us to preserve the natural look while providing protection from the humidity. NATURAL MATERIALS: Imported stone surfaces are inherently cold, so an integrated radiant heating system was installed underfoot for the comfort of the patrons at the pool area deck, open-air/sauna benches and massage tables located throughout the space. STRUCTURAL: A new decorative stair was designed and implemented for the 2-story space. The challenge here was to create a stair that would appear light and airy. We designed a suspended stair system that was supported by the existing overhead beams while integrating a glass railing assembly. The final outcome was a transparent floating structure that blended well into the serene environment. MECHANICAL: With a 2-story space and multiple pools (including indoor/outdoor pool and waterfall) and saunas, there were concerns about humidity, ventilation, heating and cooling. With all the programming information in place, it was easily determined that the existing space would not be large enough to house all the needed equipment. To address these concerns, mechanical and dehumidification systems were added to the rooftop, these units are fed through an abandoned elevator shaft. A two story architectural extension was added adjacent to the existing building to house the state-of-the-art pool filtration systems.
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Located on the ground floor of Tooker House, Arizona State University’s new living/learning community for engineering students, the 27,000-square-foot Tooker House Dining Hall provides 545 seats for all-you-care-to-eat dining. The facility provides a variety of comfortable and flexible seating options to enjoy four food venues: pizza, salad/deli, grill, and rotating international cuisine. The design team created a unique space that would speak to the interests of Tooker House residents. As such, the space uses minimal finishes to expose concrete floor, support columns, and ceiling. The few finishes used in the space blend natural materials like wood and metal expressed in a desert palette. A social stair rises from the ground floor and connects to the second floor mezzanine which offers additional seating for dining. The second floor also features flexible design elements to support extended use as a study lounge after traditional meal time hours with moveable furniture, a wall for video projection, and small group seating areas with laptop-based technology and display monitors. A P.O.D. Market (Provisions on Demand)—a modern corner store featuring grab-and-go dining options and essentials found in traditional convenience stores- supports the late night activity and function of the space. Sustainability was a top priority for the entire complex and the project is LEED Gold.
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I wanted to attempt to bring eastern tea culture to midwestern culture in an authentic way. I achieved this through using a traditional Asian design aesthetic coupled with a western style of shopping and dining making the space approachable. My concept is combine Eastern tea culture with Western culture. Unlike traditional order-and-go tea stores, my concept only offers in-store consumption of tea to ensure customers have a proper Asian experience with the teas.
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The goal was to create a space that was designed at a high level, yet still understated in its furnishings. Durability and comfort were key to withstand traffic and heavy usage as the client is the pastor of a Chicago city church and often hosts retreats for members, friends, and colleagues. The lines of the furnishings were kept simple and clean to complement, and not overshadow, the modern architecture of the home. Neutral fabric choices throughout the home serve as a canvas with pops of oranges, greens, and blues to accentuate the expansive views of Lake Michigan. Designed as an entertaining space, furnishings play double duty throughout the home. Dining room chairs can be placed in rows for enjoying a piano performance while extra chairs are easily stacked away for storage. The pair of dining tables can be placed separately, or combined for a long banquet gathering. Multiple conversation spaces in the living room were created with flexible seating. The swooping curves and angles of the architecture posed challenges for placement of furnishings, but as a positive, added great interest to the understated power of this contemporary lakeside home.
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A family of five sought a home that eliminated the typical distinctions between formal and informal spaces. We responded with a home designed to be thoroughly lived in, bridging the classic French Provincial style of the exterior with relaxed, informal finishes and furnishings. A playroom, loft, craft room, roof deck, and lower level pool provide ample space for spending time together. A gracious skylit stairway brings natural light to the center of the home, while metal and glass doors in the dining room and office allow the natural setting to extend into the house. The lower level spaces, including a pool and workroom, provide a contemporary departure from the rest of the home. Ipe slatted walls cleverly conceal a changing space and wet bar bringing in warmth and texture to the otherwise clean-lined pool deck.
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TruQua wanted to move away from their disorganized furniture and technology into a space that would allow them to grow and that reflected their smart, forward-thinking nature. The building that TruQua moved into is a historic art deco space filled with unique angles and attributes, through close attention to detail and smart design choices such as finishes and textures, we created a mature yet approachable office for this tech company with a limited budget. At the heart of TruQua’s new office is the café which is centrally located to provide employees a convenient place to eat, meet or work and is surrounded by a variety of workspaces including lounges, bench seating and offices. TruQua works with a variety of confidential clients and projects, keeping this in mind, we designed a hybrid open office environment that allows for collaboration and spontaneous interaction but incorporates security features like automatic locking features on office doors to ensure privacy and confidentiality. The office environment allows staff, who often work long hours, access to food, home-like amenities and a flexible space that supports a wide range of tasks for both individuals and groups. The entry space is designed as a flexible reception and collaboration zone, without a traditional receptionist, guests are greeted by staff meeting and interacting, which showcases TruQua’s brand and values immediately, while channeling a welcoming vibe. In addition, the entire office incorporates a range of different sized meeting rooms and writable walls and surfaces throughout to maximize opportunities for collaboration.
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A young professional couple engaged our team to develop the interior architectural finishes, millwork details, and furnishings of their single-family home in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. A skylit central stair, open plan, and gracious outdoor space for family play and entertaining form a truly livable contemporary environment. The floating central stair is anchored by a dramatic walnut accent wall that extends upwards to the skylight. Light oak floors and white walls reinforce the airy lightness of the architecture, while deep jewel tones and textured furnishings provide contrast and color. In the wine room, a custom millwork wall with colorful aluminum pegs houses their wine collection. The pegboard wall extends into the lounge seating area to create an abstract and ever-changing graphic backdrop.
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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 appeal especially 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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Prior to moving into their new headquarters in 2017, William Blair had occupied the same office for more than 20 years. Traditional in layout and image, the space no longer supported the organization’s positioning in the market, business growth goals, or daily working dynamics. William Blair envisioned an upgraded experience for clients and guests, so it was important to ensure that the aesthetic aligns with the high-quality service they provide. Thus, the executive committee made decisions with these values in mind: to establish an enduring foundation of timeless authenticity; to build relationships in a uniquely welcoming, engaging, and globally fluent atmosphere; and to create an experience that reflects William Blair’s standards of practice. Built on an enduring foundation of timeless authenticity and global fluency, the completed design is a uniquely welcoming and engaging environment grounded in warmth, an ever-evolving experience of discovery, and connection. A world map stretches across the entryway wall and is made from layered and textured water jet-cut marble. Its subdued impact is purposeful, offering a subtle reinforcement of William Blair's global reach. Dynamic etched glass patterns dramatically transform the public spaces throughout the day as sun angles change. By delicately layering line and luminousness, the ethereal glass screens in the reception and conference center permeate the space with steady movement and an enduring energy. The glass fins are ethereal yet statuesque, balancing delight with an impression of stability and dependability. Their sculptural quality is juxtaposed by a futuristic look and feel. Floating over the elegantly angled panels are uncanny translucent video displays that surprise, captivate, and convey the remarkable story of William Blair. Selective use of finishes reinforces the authenticity goals, including: fumed eucalyptus with a smoky aged coloration and bold figuring, saw-cut stone on elevator walls, and a unique grey limestone quarried from a small hill in Italy. The space is a constant reminder that a forward-looking organization will never stand still. The design process involved workplace strategy discovery sessions, as well as identification of design priorities including: right-sizing individual space, offering individual and group choice, mobility, and improved amenities. After assessing the most effective use of space, William Blair has improved private workspaces, enhanced technology integration, and incorporated adjustable workstations, open collaboration zones, and a diversity of meeting rooms. New amenities include a full-floor conference center, full-service café, 100-person auditorium with raked seating and 20-foot-wide touch-screen AV wall, and a studio for broadcast recording. Enhanced concierge and food services are among the other notable upgrades. In a post-occupancy survey, William Blair reported an increase in positive client experience at the office by 30 percent and a 47 percent increase in talent recruitment due to the new workplace environment.
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Situated at a bustling intersection in the vibrant and historic Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, Hotel Versey celebrates the diversity of the surrounding neighborhoods (Lincoln Park and the Chicago lakefront, Wrigleyville and Boystown) by connecting the dots between the area’s history and current attractions. Housed within the 1920’s Diversey Arms building, the hotel’s musical history dates back to 1925, first serving as a home to jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke and rumored to have hosted Louis Armstrong. More recently, it was known fondly as the “Rock and Roll Days Inn” due to its popularity with many iconic rock stars of the ‘90s such as Nirvana, Goo Goo Dolls, Radiohead, Sheryl Crow, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The concept and design for Hotel Versey represents an unveiling of the hotel’s musically-influenced heritage, fused with inspirations from the diverse neighborhoods surrounding the hotel. As the first ‘soft brand’ location for Wyndham Hotel Group’s Days Inn brand, the design firm was hired to create a boutique hotel with a bold personality that was built upon Chicago’s cultural diversity and rich history. The design and architecture team collaborated with Ownership as well as the project’s brand advisors to conduct strategic exercises to establish important personality attributes and characteristics. It was apparent early on that the hotel’s design would need to feel unique, edgy, retro, casual, communal and artful. Early studies with the branding firm also determined the breakdown of market segments, most apparent was the ‘Leisure Transient’ type of guest. The design team worked closely with the property’s General Manager who’s been at hotel for almost twenty years, no one was better suited to understand the hotel’s type of traveler better. From senior stay-cationers catching a baseball game, to families driving cross-country, to up and coming musicians resting before a performance – Hotel Versey would cater to them all as it always had done so well. The project team also discussed relative comp sets in the area to position the hotel effectively and provide an experience unlike any other in the relative area. While other local hotels in the area provided a hip and updated experience, they likely inadvertently shunned guests looking for a casual atmosphere or families with younger children. The people of Chicago pride themselves with being an approachable front, one who makes newcomers from all walks of like feel welcome and Hotel Versey would be no different. While the hotel’s reservation system remains under the Wyndham Hotels umbrella, the design team had almost total creative freedom when it came to executing the interior design portion of the renovation, designing a true boutique hotel. Naturally the team paid homage to the ethos of the overarching Days Inn brand’s ‘promise as sure as the sun’ that ultimately puts guests needs first at a value that allows them the ability to travel more. Naming of the hotel was a delicate matter as it was important to feel purposeful and approachable. Dozens of options were considered and studied with various font and logo interpretations. Ultimately the team landed on Hotel Versey as it played on the word ‘diversity’, one of the foundations of the new design. Also the hotel’s address is on Diversey Parkway, which would provide a sense of way-finding for out of town guest. Lastly, the building’s shape is reminiscent of the letter ‘V’ thanks to it being situated on a bustling five-corner intersection. The signature ‘azure’ blue color was a natural choice early on in the design and branding process. A variation of blue that’s often described as the color of the sky on a clear day, it’s reminiscent of soaking in fun Chicago sunny days by the lakefront (a nod to the Days Inn moniker) and was utilized heavily throughout the entry art gallery. Accentuating the existing architecture with the branded azure color, the design and architecture team utilized the architectural portals as ‘framing’ for the art pieces. Pops of saturated color including sunshine yellow (A further homage to Days Inn) along with red clay (inspired by the historical brick architecture seen throughout the neighborhood) are incorporated throughout the design via throw pillows and furniture selections, as well as integrated into all marketing materials and branding touchpoints including guestroom takeaways and public signage throughout the surround areas. From the beginning the design team utilized their internal virtual-reality artists to study the design from early spatial-planning stages all the way down to final furniture scale and placement. The Ownership team had the opportunity to virtually walk through the Lobby space to finalize the design review process with confidence as the project schedule was extremely aggressive. In terms of the interior design, the guest’s journey begins at the entrance of the hotel, which previously featured an uninviting, 80-foot hallway that appeared to be a dark, never-ending tunnel. This entrance not only lacked identity, but provided no wayfinding to the check-in desk and lobby area. The design team’s solution was to treat the hallway as an art gallery, showcasing a different artist within each section that would greet guests and help them to form lasting memories of their stay. Artwork throughout the arrival corridor was packaged into an opportunity for branding with the help of the ‘stay like a local’ descriptors. Each installation was framed with its own unique phrasing that related directly to the artwork specifically. For example, the installation next to the musical inspired artwork by Meg Harper read ‘Stay like a stringbending, blues playing, guitar shredding, local’. Just as materials and finishes help to tell the story within interiors, the team used literal words as part of the experience to paint the picture for the guest’s Chicago experience. Artwork was further recognized with branded placards highlighting the artist’s name and the title of the artwork. Catering to the younger millennials that are more technologically savvy – the artwork placards also have a QR code that takes guests directly to the artist’s website, and also a Snapcode that takes guests to the Hotel’s snapchat page. With the hotel’s prime location at a five-point intersection in Chicago where numerous neighborhoods and cultures collide, the floorplan and spatial flow of the lobby around a strong axis point of ‘hub’ was a natural decision. Titled ‘Headliner,’ a custom focal chandelier is situated at this energy-focused central point, a sweet juxtaposition created by the modern shape of the chandelier with the restored, historic plaster ceilings. This tiered collection of cover pages from the Chicago Reader celebrates Chicago’s alternative news source including historic controversial covers celebrating freedom of the press. Making the most of the lobby’s small footprint of 1,300 square feet, flexible and fluid seating arrangements are easily adjustable to accommodate groups of all sizes, appropriate for working on your computer, settling in for a cocktail or cup of coffee or simply perching while waiting to check-in. Generally speaking the footprint of the previous Lobby remained largely intact, so the design team was presented with the challenge of creating as many zones and variation of spaces for guests as possible – ultimately providing lounge space, communal space and an individual zone. The individual work zone is located under a feature mirrored wall with custom lounge chairs designed for privacy. The faceted mirror installation serves a purpose in that it’s provides a deflection of visibility back into the Lobby space to contort the guest’s illusion of old versus new. Tessallated tile that’s pattern is reminiscent of the ‘V’ is used as wayfinding to the front desk/check-in area as well as leading the guest to the energetic ‘hub’ of the lobby. A custom Lobby millwork display of shelving houses a coffee station for morning offerings in addition to a curated installation of found objects, connecting the old with the new, providing context within the city’s history as well as a common thread between past and present travelers to the hotel. Tongue-in-cheek pieces include a 70’s era rotary phone next to an iPhone, a vintage baseball bat next to its modern aluminum contemporary and staple family board games (Clue, Battleship) alongside modern-day game (Cards Against Humanity). Two hidden doorways were designed into the wall, giving staff access to BOH administrative offices and a service corridor. Additional custom-designed art pieces include the firm’s take on a few of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions. Hand-blown glass shapes are dipped in mercury and hung from the ceiling at the entrance of the hotel’s forthcoming restaurant, creating a miniature airy conversation pieces reminiscent of Chicago’s most social media-tagged locale, ‘Cloudgate’ or ‘The Bean.’ Flanking the reception desk is the design team’s interpretation of the infamous iron work at Wrigleyfield featuring the hotels branded logo. When performing a light refresh of the guest rooms, the design team was presented with the challenge of working around existing furniture and lighting. Over the course of numerous phased renovations, a consistent style and finish of casegoods had not be adhered to which compelled the design team to design a color palette and finish schedule which complemented all manner of casegoods. Within the 137 guestrooms (with 45 different room types thanks to the historic nature of the building) is new flooring and window treatments with select rooms receiving new open, modern wardrobes to create more spacious suites. The team called upon the talent of a trusted partner to create the custom headboard wallcovering which acts as the impactful artwork for the guestrooms. The wallcovering hosts a collage of Chicago-inspired imagery and subject such as sports references, the infamous city grid and architecture, ferris wheel, music and local personalities. From the moment your trip is booked to the first steps through its front doors, the entire Hotel Versey experience whisks guests through Chicago in a glimpse. A modern celebration of yesteryear brings about a nostalgia that only comes about within a site such as this. From the wildest housekeeping rumors of famous rock-n-roll royalty conception to the opposite end of simpler, innocent songstresses roller skating through the Lobby, this hotel has seen it all. The reimagined Hotel Versey is positioned to continue it’s legacy as a staple of the neighborhood, with doors open for all.
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The challenge of this project was to create subtle branding through all the space without making it too obvious. There is an open flow for people to walk all around the store even around the cashier. The focal point mainly in the design is the back of the store changed by materials elements and by the horizontality of the floor & the pendants above the desk. The special service to offer is to customize your own package according to your needs. The “make your own” is located at the heart of the floor plan. The desk has a C shape representing the branding of the logo.
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Slayton Search Partners provides access to executive talent for global corporations. Accordingly, their new workplace needed to make an impressive impact on clients while still pleasing the staff. When they said they envisioned a swanky, penthouse loft vibe, we knew of the perfect place, and more importantly, we understood how to optimize the unusual geometry of the space and its quirks to make it work efficiently without sacrificing its cool factor. We used abrupt angles to divide large, exterior offices diagonally, giving them each window access and maximizing the wedge-shaped floor plan. Raw columns punctuate the space and contrast with premium finishes and lots of glass. The result is distinctive and cerebral, right in line with the company’s forte.
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A Washington DC-based executive who weekends in Chicago tasked us with renovating her industrial loft-style apartment. As a balance to her modernist corporate office, we softened the edges of her glass and concrete apartment with natural and textured materials, sculptural furnishings, and a calming color palette. A sense of both spaciousness and order is created through custom millwork, including a panelized wall storage system and floating rift white oak shelving. The resulting play of influences is embodied in the floral painting that hangs in the living space—a pleasing austerity and repose, with a strong feminine quality.
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We were hired to perform comprehensive design and documentation services including needs assessment/programming, schematic design, design development , contract documents and contract administration for the total renovation of a 2-level campus bookstore. We were challenged to re-think what a campus bookstore should be to a college or university. The company intends for their store to be a one-stop shop for class and campus living, so we planned and design 3 key propositions into the concept: 1) Resources: online faculty collaboration, academic support, tech services and demonstration. 2) Branded sports and excellence: legacy and spirit to be communicated. 3) Social: seating, food and beverage, multiple ways to sit, recharge mobile devices, meet, study or collaborate.
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Founded in 1857 and based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Northwestern Mutual is the nation's largest direct provider of individual life insurance and a leader in financial services. To facilitate their continued growth and industry leading performance, Northwestern Mutual expanded their existing downtown Milwaukee corporate campus. Northwestern Mutual’s leaders envision a world-class facility that provides a robust and modern business platform for their current and future needs; is a desirable place for its employees and financial representatives to work and gather; that will help to recruit and retain employees. Research The project began with an extensive research and visioning program. John Schlifske, Northwestern Mutual’s CEO, and the corporate leadership team had established a vision to transform the company, introducing new work practices, re envisioning the company’s product offerings and interaction style with its policyholder/owners. Building on extensive stakeholder interviews, immersion by the team in emerging work practices, utilization study, best practices study and workshops with company leaders, the design team established a vision for the new Northwestern Mutual headquarters offices. The Commons A new campus “Commons” provides circulation and shared campus amenities for three existing office buildings and a new 26 story office tower. Employees are encouraged to dine at the 1800 seat dining facility which provide free lunch and an extended day place to meet and work. The companies 5000 field sales agents are welcomed to a corporate identity center and to a state of the art training facility. A multi purpose room hosts town hall meetings and community events. Also within the commons are a fitness center, business center, lobby café, and shop. Work Place A constant at this time in Northwestern Mutual’s history is change. The headquarters staff innovate new approaches to the way that they work and how teams are organized to meet new initiatives. Office floors were designed to be highly flexible with employees in open office neighborhoods. Within each neighborhood are enclosed places to meet, to complete focused work activities, to have private conversations, to make social connections with fellow employees, or to brainstorm a new product offering or operational approach. Enclosed, more formal conference spaces are segregated to one side of the office core allowing employees work spaces an expansive view of the lake front. At the center of each floor is a central hub with coffee and a place for informal meetings.
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The homeowners came to us while their home construction was already underway in Lakeview East, just steps from Lake Michigan. Their aesthetic preference was a modern and minimal home and they talked mostly about their love of the ocean. We created a palette of rift white oak floors, blues and greens in the wall paint, and stunning stone and wallpaper accents. The furniture and fixtures were also organic in nature to contrast with the minimal interior. Custom pieces include a desk and dining room made of reclaimed locust trees, a full height marble vanity and ceiling hung mirrors.
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The Chicago office of a globally-recognized integrated architecture, interior design, engineering, and planning firm seized a unique opportunity to not only build-out new space to accommodate a growing team, but also redefine and reimagine its office structure by evaluating the way teams worked, identifying aspirational goals and transforming its business strategy. The design team led a series of internal strategy workshops to identify areas of improvement. A lack of necessary space for project teams, an inability to promote the firm’s innovative work and support the creative process, and insufficient space to support diverse work modes and thinking were among the key findings identified. The new workspace needed to support their growing interdisciplinary, multi-generational and multi-market office. Business drivers defined in the workshops set out to encourage collaboration within disciplines, break down silos between disciplines, create a sustainable and energy efficient space, and in turn, change the office culture to increase engagement among employees. Completed in October 2016, the new office transitioned both physically and organizationally into an agile work environment. The renovation is the first of the company’s twelve locations to pilot an agile workspace where employees have the flexibility to select the space and typology that best suits their various individual, team and collaborative work throughout the day. A wide range of typologies allow for team-based work, social interaction, informal touchdown, focus work, and collaboration. For those specific tasks requiring focus, a quiet zone, wellness room and phone rooms were incorporated into the typology mix. Employees may choose from sit-to-stand desks with ample daylighting, team-based bench-style workstation seating with movable pin-up ideation boards, conference and huddle rooms, inviting nooks with great city views, and teaming areas with a variety of reconfigurable furniture. A centrally located maker space provides hands-on experiences for enhanced design visualization including 3D-printing and virtual reality technology. A spacious lobby and café provide further options for breakout, large group activities, and industry or community events. Open ceilings and exposed concrete flooring within the studio space support the collaborative environment and encourage teams to utilize the space as a living, learning laboratory. A subtle, natural finish palette acts as a backdrop to the teams and their work displayed throughout the office. Subtle wood tones and textural carpet define the spaces intended for client interaction or more formal team meetings. Adaptability was paramount in all portions of the design including lighting, which through an advanced lighting control system, enables automated customization of light levels and effortless reorganization of space with the click of a mouse. Supporting one of the firm’s core values, sustainability, the space is targeting LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors Silver Certification. One main contribution to the certification are the lighting fixtures. Every lighting fixture is dimmable and equipped with daylight and motion sensing. The space beats ASHRAE 90.1-2013 lighting power density requirements by 48%. Defined as one of the initial design problems, the framework of the new office space has increased collaboration both within and between disciplines. 93% of post-occupancy respondents feel the new workplace supports collaboration with colleagues; a 74% increase from the previous workplace. The appropriate mix of typologies to support multiple work modes has also been validated. 90% of post-occupancy respondents feel the new space supports necessary focus work and almost 90% of respondents believe the new office reflects their typical collaboration method.
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