This confidential global tech company has maintained a substantial Chicagoland presence for decades. Shifts in the real estate market and the need to access more tech talent were the catalyst for the client to initiate a move to consolidate eight separate locations under one roof. The company needed to create a special workplace to encourage workers to shift to a downtown location which increased the commute for some. The new space is designed to provide employees with a variety of ways to work and is inspired by Chicago neighborhoods. The use of iconic imagery of signs, buildings, institutions and restaurants are showcased in a variety of ways throughout the space. The client’s workspace is organized with four things in mind: a main street that connects each group on a floor and encourages informal interaction; neighborhoods that are unique to the business units that occupy the space; distributed and shared amenities available on each floor; and a range of spaces in which people can perform concentrated, individual work and informal teamwork, or access technology.
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Legacy.com is the global leader in online obituaries, providing a digital platform for access to newspapers, flower delivery, funeral homes, and grief counseling. With two suburban offices separated by divergent staff functions and distance, Legacy.com engaged a firm to design a new consolidated downtown Chicago headquarters—an office supportive of cross-team interaction—for improved productivity and an environment where their unique culture would thrive. In keeping with their mantra of embracing a life well-lived, Legacy.com chose a site that is open and infused with natural light. A calming blue ceiling floats above. Using an “indoor-outdoor” design concept, natural-colored flooring suggestive of patios and grass showcases bright, colorful furniture that adds life and energy to the space. Photographs of celebrities and people from all walks of life are featured; their published obituaries are reminders of lives well-lived. Collaboration options are abundant—from closed living room settings to open hubs framed by Unistrut wood-clad panel systems to a large gathering space with a functioning “garage door”. Phone booths offer employees a private place for focused work. Only five months after moving in, employees universally say they “Love being there!”. Communication and collaboration between teams has increased, and employees feel energized. And, when they need a smile, they can join Superman in his phone booth or toss a Nerf football to a teammate while Walter Payton looks on.
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New Trier High School, a nationally acclaimed and residentially land-locked high school, faced a situation familiar to many long-established districts—aging facilities which had not kept pace with modern approaches to teaching and learning. The District chose to replace buildings which were among the most inefficient, inaccessible, and obsolete on campus with a 280,000-sf new addition that provides students with the educational and cultural experience of a collegiate environment. Given the school’s rich past, the community expected the heritage of the existing school to be celebrated. In response, the addition delivers a modern program within a historically sensitive envelope. A new north student entrance provides a modern, glassy interpretation of the iconic art deco tower at the school’s original main entrance. Once inside, students are welcomed by a five-story, daylit concourse which brings natural light deep into the building and bridges the new and old, providing opportunities for community gathering and group learning. A variety of spaces extend learning outside the traditional classroom on every floor, facilitating diverse teaching modalities and supporting a wide range of interaction and collaboration options for students and faculty. Transparency between spaces literally puts learning on display for students and visitors. The building has achieved LEED Gold certification status.
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In the heart of Chicago’s bustling River North neighborhood, Hubbard 221 delivers comfortable luxury, plentiful public amenities, and a prime location for a quick commute by foot or public transportation. Standing above the iconic Merchandise Mart and the mid-rise buildings surrounding its core, the 22-floor multifamily high-rise enjoys views that sweep the skyline to the north and east, gaze along the Art Deco styling of the Mart to the south, and have an unimpeded view of the sunsets to the west. The lobby invites the angles of the city indoors with a mix of materials: terrazzo with metal insets, wood paneled walls, steel canopy, and sculptural lounge chairs. Small but mighty, every inch of the entry transmits the energy of the city. The refreshing color palette throughout celebrates the contrast between deep tones and bright whites while bringing in saturated, upbeat hues to enhance the fickle Chicago weather. While the art was sourced through a local curator, it is the full-height curtain wall that provides the most inspiring and authentic moment. The simple glazing creates unity between an indoor haven and bustling exterior environment. Materials are rich, sleek, and varied, creating an aspirational view of life ahead for the young professionals that call Hubbard 221 home. This project is representative of a new idea of luxury for a new generation. With 195 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, residents can tailor their space to their needs, knowing that the 6,500-sf amenity space on the 21st-floor serves as an extension of their private apartments. Additionally, each studio unit is provided with a custom room divider that creates height, provides closed and open storage, incorporates a desk/dining option, and creates definition between the living room and bedroom. All residents have access to a custom paint program with five curated colors for complimentary accent wall application. Beyond the units, in the coworking lounge, a built-in leather banquette with electrified base sits across from the newest printing technology to encourage city dwellers to have an expanded home office. A locally-made 8-person conference table takes that concept to the next level. A full-service chef’s kitchen can be opened up to the exterior grill station by a sliding glass wall and sets of paneled doors provide privacy for residents that reserve the entertainment suite. Some of the best views are from the Peloton bikes in the fitness center and the yoga and barre studio. The 5,500-sf exterior amenity deck is complete with private cabanas, pool, hot tub, grilling stations, fire pits, and an exterior lounge with television. A covered dog run with a mural by a local artist, bike repair shop, and technologically advanced package room and dry-cleaning lockers round out programming that is the answer to a busy life within city limits.
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As ACHE closed their real-estate search and selected the 300 S Riverside building, the design team took that opportunity to express the river and bridges that formed the strong curves that are inherently symbolic with the 300 Riverside building. Combining the angles of the client’s logo and taking graphic liberties with the curves of the building the team created a play the fractal geometry to create a dynamic elevator lobby and entry. The energy of the slanted wood portals and hidden cove lights directs people towards the reception area. As an Association, the planning original methodology for the space was to maintain private offices around the perimeter with workstations on the interior. Through the exploration of the staff, the studying of the building and the pursuit of quietly encouraging the client to continue to push themselves, the perimeter of the building was opened up to create a sequence of push-and-pull with the private offices and workstations. Natural light penetrates all parts of the office and flows into even the deepest part of the center core due to the rhythmic perimeter planning concept. The central curved core pathway holds the library for the Association. While this space needs to respect the tradition and history (a space to hold books, periodicals and the like); the client was cognizant that the requirement for paper copies of their books could go away. With this is mind, the library was designed so that it could stand alone as a decorative wall feature or be used as an area for display. While the office was being planned & designed, the client was going through an internal re-branding. This rebranding was folding into the final concepts of the space.
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The Customer Experience Test Kitchen and Innovation Center serves as a place to gather and showcase Golden State Foods' (GSF) food and liquid products. Inspired by the energy of its location in the West Loop neighborhood, the “The Chicago Kitchen Table” concept for the project comes to life. This space, like the kitchen table in a home, serves as the heart and soul that connects GSF's products and their restaurant partners. This project achieved its goal of fusing the neighborhood culture with GSF's global, gold standard image. The project includes 4,300 SF of culinary areas (test kitchen and research & development lab) as well as creative office space (work lounge, conference rooms, and touch-down hoteling areas) in an open loft environment. Materials include classic, timeless finishes like wood, glass, brick, black iron, and concrete. They speak to the trusted and true foundations and values of GSF.
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Our client, a Chicago-based private investment firm focused on middle-market companies in healthcare, education, and financial services industries. They engaged our firm to design an environment reflective of their company culture, while maintaining a welcoming atmosphere for their clients. The guest experience was reinforced by the display of their extensive art collection. The reception area is warm and inviting, with an art wall which anchors the space and is accompanied by a wood feature wall, white glass, leather wrapped door handles, and refined furnishings. The effect is an understated and enduring space, complemented by minimalist details and soft materiality. State-of-the-art conference rooms are located adjacent to the reception area with a hospitality cafe as the main attraction. The remainder of the floor plan is organized with perimeter offices and interior support staff workstations. Continuous clear glass office fronts allow for maximum transparency, natural light and outstanding views of downtown Chicago, the lake and Millennium Park. The client engaged artist Kendell Carter, to create an installation for the Partners of the organization. The artwork highlights bronze-plated shoes, representing each Partner’s inspiration in life, including the shoes of their grandmother, teacher, coach or any figure in their life that made a difference for them. A strong focus on ergonomics and wellness was provided within each office including a sit/stand desk for every office and workstation. The plan also includes a golf simulation room, a wellness room and an informal lounge cafe.
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The primary living spaces integrate mechanical, lighting and structural elements in a seamless fashion to create a flexible open entertaining space. Space for a growing art collection is set against classic oak paneling, travertine and oak flooring and white lacquer finishes. The result is an understated yet inviting home.
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As a chef, restauranteur, and purveyor of wine and spirits, this space needed to be both beautiful and functional for relaxing and entertaining. This project was all about the owner and the building. This big, fabulous building, rich with Chicago history begged for unique touches that brought its history to life; as a chef and restauranteur, the owner was looking to create a space that served him and his needs as effectively as he could entertain others. What became the billiard room was previously a loft space with 14-foot ceilings; the designer chose to create more intimate areas within this space, including a wine cellar for an extensive wine collection of over 1400 bottles, a bar for a varied liquor collection that resembled a restaurant bar with glass shelves, and comfortable seating for guests. Designed for entertaining, the living area opens to a balcony with a built-in sectional outside, allowing for lots of seating during Chicago’s months of warmer weather. For when this client isn’t entertaining, the designer created a library nook with ample storage for their book collection and personal seating for moments of solitude. The designer chose a living room table that adjusts to rest at either coffee table height or dining table height depending on the client’s needs at any given time. The designer also implemented unique features for this client with a custom area from Oscar Isberian in the living room and by commissioning Glenview Haus for custom millwork in the billiard room, kitchen, and library, as well as select cabinetry and custom doors for the billiard room and wine cellar.
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-The traffic flow was considered by dividing the restaurant into three main spaces. This is functional for circulation and also makes the design stronger through linear repetition. -ADA guidelines were followed by providing 4’< main circulation, 5%< accessible seating and ADA compliant bathrooms. -A variety of seating was provided to accommodate flexibility for parties of different sizes and preferences. -Two service/POS stations are located on either end of the restaurant as well as behind the bar to increase efficiency of servers and staff. -The central lounge includes spaces designated to sit or stand with a drink or appetizer while waiting for a table.
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Magnificent acoustics and quiet elegance are the hallmarks of DePaul University’s new $98 million, 185,000-square-foot performing arts facility. Completed in the summer of 2018, the Holtschneider Performance Center serves as the next phase of a new complex dedicated to serving the needs of hundreds of music students, while hosting the world-class performances of multiple artists simultaneously. Meticulously designed and expertly constructed, the building boasts state-of-the-art acoustics to ensure optimal space for music students to learn and perform. For this project, the design team was challenged with cohesively organizing a complex program of performance spaces, rehearsal halls, and classrooms, into a three-story structure - each with its own functional requirements, aesthetic identities and acoustic challenges. The three-story atrium, known as Schaefer College Hall Lobby, greets visitors entering the venue and serves as a circulation spine which helps to organize the programmed spaces of the building. This “interior street” is the eastern gateway to DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus and is clad with warm and welcoming makore millwork paneling which contrasts the light-colored terrazzo floors and stone column surrounds within the space. Student rehearsal rooms, practice rooms, and classrooms branch off this main artery and are strategically organized on the upper floors by their required functional and acoustic adjacencies relative to the double and triple height performance spaces rising from the floors below. These performance spaces are what separate this building from others on campus. The Holtschneider Performance Center boasts the 505-seat Mary Patricia Gannon Concert Hall, the 140-seat Murray and Michele Allen Recital Hall, the 80-seat Brennan Family Recital Hall, the 75-seat Mary A. Dempsey and the Philip H. Corboy Jazz Hall. Introducing light oak millwork panels, and featuring a single tier of seats, the smaller halls have 30-foot volumes for optimal acoustics yet manage to remain intimate in scale by using strategically placed reflectors, grids, and performance lighting rigging. The concert hall has a 60-foot volume and is much grander in scale, boasting the same makore millwork panels as Schaefer College Hall, with millwork-clad curved balconies and travertine pylons, which both frame the audience chamber and provide necessary acoustic reflections from the stage. All four of the halls employ dark colored velour curtains that both provide variable acoustic provisions and add a pop of color that unifies the overall aesthetic of the facility.
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Eleven40’s design concept is about contrast and layers. The angular lobby has a sense of drama with its dark, faux leather walls, tall volume, and a dramatic two-story green wall. The simple black and white color palette is layered with the warmth of wood tones and textiles. The built and natural worlds collide with the insertion of greenery throughout this high-rise, concrete structure. The goal was to create spaces that are full of life in all forms. The 5th floor is dedicated entirely to amenity space with floor to ceiling windows, light wood-look floors, and pops of color in the art and furniture making for a bright and vibrant space. The space is meant to be active, and the design certainly caters to each and every activity. The Co-office is a quiet zone for residents to work or study, while the Gaming area offers everything from board games to arcade games and skee ball. There is a Jam Lounge for the music lovers, and a Gym and Yoga studio for the fitness lovers. The Fireplace/Media Lounge is equipped with a kitchen and wine bar for parties and events, while the Brewing Station offers residents coffee in the morning and cold beer in the evening. Even the pets have a zone, with a full dog spa and outdoor dog run. Almost every room spills out to the 5th floor exterior roof deck where there is even more space to lounge, dine and play. The natural aesthetic carries up to the Aqua Lounge with several wood elements and greenery. Finishes and furniture are playful at the rooftop, with patterned concrete tiles, graphic wallcovering, and hanging swings. Up here, it’s all about the views… and the rooftop pool overlooking Lake Michigan!
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After a company re-brand, this client came to use to incorporate the new, colorful brand into their Merchandise Mart showroom. The brand statement is “evolution of motion” and contains the full color spectrum which moves from one color to the next. We interpreted that brand into the interior by using colored mirrors which run the length of the showroom. Customers can see their movement and view product through the colored lens of the mirror and brand. Accenting the mirrors are a series of product groupings which also follow the color blend in the showroom. When you enter the showroom, you are surrounded by green colors via the wall paints, product finishes, area rugs and greenery. Moving into the space further, there is a yellow section of colored mirror and furniture. The back of the showroom ends in a blend from pinks to purples and finally in a blue sheer drapery. The result is a bold, yet simple display of their product and brand.
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Located in in the much sought-after new development at 150 N Riverside, Kayne Anderson occupies a space with commanding river views. Using hospitality as the major driving force, stained concrete floors, black exposed ceilings, and warm wood accents redefine “edginess” for Kayne Anderson. Glass front offices with sliding doors, paralleled with high gloss flooring, enhance the natural light flowing through this space. The cafe is the central hub of the office. Occupying a large portion of the main hall, it doubles as a lounge and communal kitchen. Unique to this area are the multi-paned glass partitions used to create privacy while aiding social activity and interior light.
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The design team sought to create an innovative interior design and residential experience for 465 North Park, a 54-story apartment tower located in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The approach focused both on creating spaces that engage with the city and on spaces that offer respite from that same city. The two-story lobby doubles as a large resident lounge, seamlessly connecting the ground floor to its surrounding neighborhood and activating the city block through floor-to-ceiling glass. A beautiful sculptural floating stair leads to an open mezzanine that offers co-working space and access to the building’s leasing office. On the sixth floor, the building’s primary amenities remain connected to the energy of the city with a large outdoor amenity and pool deck nestled within the surrounding urban context. The hustle and bustle of the city fades away as residents and guests move to the 38th floor where a smaller and quieter sky lounge and outdoor terrace await. The design for the first floor lounge mimics the style of a hotel lobby by offering a variety of seating styles and arrangements and a complimentary coffee bar draws residents to the space. Another primary gathering space for residents is the large fitness center and spa. A program including a yoga studio, spin room, weight area, cardio, and TRX room offer a variety of activities for every workout level. A neutral palette creates a timeless elegance throughout the building. Inspired by the textures of the urban fabric, a studied use of materials create a multitude of layers throughout the spaces, quieted by their tonal uniformity. Natural materials such as wood and stone are also presented in response to the city’s influence, using straight lines, grid patterns, and clean geometries in their arrangement.
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The 300, located at 300 South Wacker Drive is a 1970's, 35-story skyscraper located along the Chicago River with 360-degree views of downtown. The building's "awakening" - a complete rebranding and renovation differentiates itself from other properties in the South Wacker corridor and effectively attracts and retains tenants in a competitive submarket. The new vision for the building is defined by a boutique hospitality environment that welcomes and inspires tenants and visitors. The transformation began with the repositioning and renovation of the building's street entry by shifting the entry to the center of the building from the sides. Previously non-descript with multiple revolving doors, the entrance was re-designed with one main central revolving door highlighted by a new timeless exterior canopy with modern lighting and signage. For the repurposed building lobby, the client desired a dynamic and unique public-facing space that contrasted from other lobby spaces at other properties along South Wacker Drive. The existing lobby was dated and brash with marble walls and floors and intense digital displays that harkened to a conservative, corporate environment. Taking cues from the "awakening" rebrand, the design team re-envisioned the lobby by creating a warm, hospitality setting, where tenants and visitors encountered an inviting and comfortable space. Comfortable soft seating areas flank a custom reception console and provide alternative working environments for tenants and a place for visitors to relax. A "sunrise" element was incorporated into the lighting design and natural materials accentuate warmth and hospitality. Adjacent to the lobby, a former office space was transformed into a flexible amenity lounge and café. The daylit lounge, with 16 feet-high curtainwall, has a stunning view to the Chicago River and serves as a meeting and socialization space with a variety of casual seating arrangements and tables. Dramatic lighting warms the space, while custom designed bookcases, coffee and end tables, and sofas lend a hospitality-like environment. The lounge is a flexible space that can be utilized for private events, all-hands meetings, and alternate work environment for both tenants and the public. Unique to the space is a stationary food truck that is positioned in the lounge serves as a creative centerpiece. Visible from the street, the truck will serve a rotating selection of cuisines from a variety of local food purveyors. A renovated outdoor terrace serves as a social gathering space with views to the river and is accessible via a new sliding glass wall system to create a seamless indoor/outdoor connection to the main lounge in the warmer months. A glass windscreen was added to the terrace to help protect users from the elements. In the building's lower level is a new bicycle storage room and yoga/group exercise studio for tenant use. With no previous access from the street to the lower level, an exterior stairway with bicycle rail was added to provide direct and easy access from the street to the bicycle storage room to encourage building tenants to bike to work. New landscaping around the property, including along the river, furthers the building's position as a destination property.
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Housed inside an iconic Art Deco skyscraper, the design is a dynamic interplay between the city’s historical roots, the building’s storied architecture and an interior design for the new modern traveler. Guests enter a living room-like space adorned with a vintage fireplace and art-filled bookshelves. Dark moresqued walls sit in contrast to luxe jewel-toned furniture with vintage details. Strong, custom-designed chevron floors are introduced here. A mosaic of iridescent glass tiles in shades of blush and nude canvas the floor, acting as the designers’ creative-take on an area rug. Across the lobby, a clandestine corner bar, upholstered and corseted in textured black leather and velvet, and a custom chandelier, encrusted with matte and polished black vintage jewelry, crystals and beads adds drama. The light and airy cafe is offset by a vertical light installation that soars 18’ to enhance architectural floor-to-ceiling windows. An American Brasserie is rustic yet refined with a feminine twist. Modern guestrooms are infused with bold signature details. Black and white herringbone floors and white walls create a dramatic backdrop for the diversified color palette within. Blush pink and velvet accents are paired with high gloss oxblood hued modern casegoods. Grey heathered felt encases armoire closets while veined marble, brass chain tassels, and champagne colored glass knobs add vintage charm. Brushed bronze light fixtures imbue a warm glow and custom artwork evokes mystery.
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In 2018, this progressive restaurant company celebrated the opening of its new global headquarters in Chicago’s emergent Fulton Market district. The move from Oak Brook to the city was an opportunity to create a more centralized, consolidated workplace. To meet the challenge of a thorough dive into the company’s culture, the client hired two design teams to craft a narrative worthy of its journey and create a transformational environment to help the company move forward. Replacing a multi-building, cubicle-partitioned campus with nine stories of open, collaborative workspace and versatile meeting options accomplished both goals. The fast-track project a highly complex “top-down” construction process, was completed in just 18 months (from groundbreaking to ribbon cutting) thanks to teamwork, extreme organization, and the dedication of all parties involved, including three shifts of 600 tradespeople working around the clock—taking four months less than traditional building methods in Chicago. The new headquarters brings together all Chicago employees, from a range of departments, who had previously been located in several buildings at their former campus. A priority was to spark dynamic moments of interpersonal interaction, increasing visual connections between employees as they moved between the floors during their day. This was largely achieved via a more collaborative work environment, robust amenity offerings (a fitness center, multiple roof decks, community café, conference center, training facilities, bike room, etc.), and by orienting the workplace around a five-story atrium stairwell that serves as the heart of the structure. The atrium was expanded into a more prominent, awe-inspiring feature that forms a connection between the workspaces on floors 4 through 8. Glass-enclosed conference rooms cantilever out into the atrium; a pair of M.C. Escher-esque feature stairs prompt spontaneous intermingling, increasing the likelihood of on-going interactions between colleagues. At the first floor there are two entry points, one primarily for students of the company’s university, the other for guests and employees. Here the client’s culture, achievements, and aspirations are celebrated, and museum-quality exhibits of memorabilia create an immersive experience. On the second floor, students of the university interact with plasma touch screens, and nearby training kitchens offer hands-on learning. An adjacent sound studio conveniently provides for video recording. All floors are themed, for example, the third celebrates changing tastes and diverse diets; the fifth creative packaging etc. Design moments throughout are deliberately abstract, grounded in meanings derived directly from the client’s long history. Embarking on this highly ambitious project, the company sought to consolidate its various business units into a flexible, sustainable, and efficient workspace. Specifically, the organization needed an inclusive environment that would encourage collaboration and facilitate employee effectiveness and productivity. Other drivers included leveraging technology to enhance the way employees work and fostering wellness via a holistic approach. Features contributing to that goal include a lobby green wall, fitness center, abundant outdoor space, a rooftop deck, and beekeeping facilities. Every floor features a wellness suite that includes mother and prayer rooms and a library/quiet space. Additional highlights include prioritizing access to natural light and a focus on indoor air quality. The building achieved LEED Platinum certification.
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Located in the hustling and bustling west loop this apartment building has newly designed amenity spaces. The existing interiors did not match the sleek architecture of the building and lacked any memorable qualities needed to attract and retain residents. The lobby was completely renovated and transformed into a sleek space with a luxurious vibe. A custom living wall was used to bring the outside in and double as artwork. Graphic walls recall the energy of the city with its twinkling lights. Art incorporates humor and history. The art near the entry door has abstract taxis on it to signify a waiting space for your ride. Art with vintage water towers recall the industrial history of the neighborhood. Each of the 12 resident corridors has a different piece of art that recalls the rich industrial history of the site. The gym was rarely used due to a few reasons, poor lighting and bland design. There was no energy in the room. We incorporated bright, dynamic angled lines of light and a graphic wall that gave the space movement and energy. Resident corridors were poorly lit. A light paint color did the trick along with new carpeting throughout with a concrete pattern recalling the neighborhoods industrial past. The club room was renovated from an underutilized room to a multifunctional space. Different gathering zones were designed with both bar and low height seating and gadget connectivity. Movable ottomans allow flexible seating arrangements and swivel chairs are easy to move around due to their lighter weight. High energy vibes continue with the new carpet tile whose pattern recalls skyscraper lights at night. A colorful palette and a combination of unique materials from brass to crystal give the amenity spaces a timely design with timeless characteristics.
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The new Center for Health and Well-Being at the University of South Carolina is the result of a holistic approach to patient care that supports students’ academic success. The Center establishes a much-needed hub for health and wellness on campus, incorporating advanced design features that support the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Clinics in general medicine, women’s care, sports medicine/orthopedics, and allergy, immunization, and travel are included in the new building, along with ancillary support spaces such as radiography and consulting offices for nutrition, counseling, wellness, and psychiatric services. Through this project, the design and client teams lay the foundation for lifelong wellness on campus, while supporting students academically, physically, and mentally in a facility that is a welcoming destination. The project is closely integrated into the community and core campus at USC. Special attention was paid to making the facility accessible to foot traffic following current high traffic walkways and access to key corridors on campus. The integrated biophilia design concept creates intentional moments both at the exterior and interior of the building to rest and experience nature – a key component of the wellness initiative on campus. Visitors to the building are encouraged to linger, meet with colleagues, take a class in the learning lab kitchen, or take a coffee or study break. The inviting architecture and interior design of the space reinforces the welcoming intent of the Center. Elements of nature are included throughout the design as visual cues to support this ambiance. The overarching project goal for both the design and client teams was to create a space that supports “The Whole Student” in all facets of life through transparent and biophilic design concepts. Creating a destination on campus that welcomes students, staff, and the community not only when sick or in need of care, but as a destination to gather, learn, and create lasting relationships.
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Residing in the same space which saw countless infamous prohibition era trials including The Black Sox and Jazz Age Trials (which the Chicago musical was based on). The building boasts 18' high ceilings, 15' high exterior windows, and a masonry vault that runs vertically through the entire building (to keep records safe in a fire). The project is a full reimagination of the structure and interior with new exit stairs, rooftop deck, shifted structural masonry walls, openings to create connecting stairs, and an entirely new flooring system throughout. This project truly bridges the past and the present through a celebration of its historic materials and details, all embodied in progressive interpretations and sophisticated design.
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The Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks contacted us to concept, design and build a 10,000 square-foot retail space inside the United Center. The greatest challenge and number one goal was to create a year-round destination for Chicago's developing West Side that would entice fans again and again, even on non-game days. To achieve this, we ideated a retail experience that was jam-packed with nostalgia, a local authenticity, and technologically infused engagements that would connect emotionally with core and prospective fans. A range of guest experiences are integrated throughout all retail zones, designed to attract and engage while keeping in mind shopper flow during high-traffic times. High-impact art installations of team logos and disruptive photo ops provided opportunities for guests to stay and explore. Because the store was multi-functional, we designed a transitional environment that could easily be converted to accommodate varying team and event schedules. Proprietary merchandising solutions created the flexibility to adjust content and merchandise without disrupting the flow of operations. Store employee productivity of swapping team specific gear from the nonactive team to the active team, was improved upon by over 70%. With the goal to provide immersive encounters that felt truly authentic, we unobtrusively integrated technology to create digitally enhanced storytelling that did not seem tacked-on or secondary, but a central part of the design. In the end, the Madhouse team store delivered on creating a memorable experience for guests while providing the flexibility of content and merchandising solutions necessary for seamless store operations.
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For a group of designers, the design of their space itself truly matters. The original space rendered a huge amount of volume with its 16-foot ceilings; the question was then, “how do you access that space and have it be noticed, yet still have the space below retain a sense of intimacy?” Originally concrete block with 16-foot ceilings, the challenge was how to take a space like that and create a sense of intimacy and experience without separating the floor plan into small spaces. The design of the space needed to be creative and organic enough to have personality yet also be able to change with ease. To accomplish that, the lead designer used sculptural metal to bring the scale of the ceilings down; with the rest of the long, tall, and narrow space, the lead designer changed the access point of the conference room so it became more of an object in space rather than in a corridor.
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For their 88,000-square-foot HQ relocation to Willis Tower, GATX wanted to create a work environment that aligns with their work, reflects the industry in which they operate and celebrates their 120+ year history as a global railcar leader. The use of traditionally industrial materials such as steel, copper, wood and concrete are reimagined into a sophisticated aesthetic with purposeful branded moments integrated throughout. Open, flexible spaces are counter-balanced with quiet, enclosed spaces resulting in a variety of work settings that intentionally encourage choice throughout the organization, across all disciplines.
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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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Forced to relocate after 30 years in the crown of Tribune Tower, a growing architecture and interior design firm saw huge potential across the river in the 26th floor of 333 North Michigan.  Split into two suites, the north wing is part of the original 1928 art deco building designed by Holabird & Root, with views down Michigan Avenue. It became the ideal space for formal presentations and reflection, and includes a large conference room and executive offices. Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chairs and a reproduction of a Richard Boch sculpture in the space give a nod to the surrounding architectural history, and two seating areas provide a respite from the bustling staff down the hall.  The south suite, housed in a more contemporary structure, is an active, open workspace. Surrounded by 17’ tall windows and views of the skyline, the expansive open space is adjacent to a multi-purpose town hall area used for breaks, presentations and entertaining. Height-adjustable tables with an industrial vibe emanate the firm’s communal, culture-driven values, and enable all staff members to gather there for weekly meetings. A large resource library with an island for intimate presentations and plentiful storage allows designers to envision schemes and organize materials. The new studio space has a prominent, layered history that spans the timeline of the city. The building sits partially over the site of Fort Dearborn, and the suite was formerly the famed Tavern Club, a private membership lounge where Chicago's cultural elite gathered for libations and salon-style events. The firm keeps the Tavern Club's spirit alive by hosting industry events and lively, after-hours gathering on the deck. Creating ultimate flexibility was the firm’s primary goal in designing their new workplace. Their former home was three small floors, and came with many compromises, but the new, single-floor space allowed for a large resource library, private phone rooms, a formal conference room and several open huddle areas. It also provided an opportunity for a large, multi-purpose room for breaks, entertaining, staff meetings and product presentations. Additionally, the firm’s new logo and branding identity launch coincided with their relocation. With their logo prominently displayed, the new space was meant to showcase the firm’s expertise—designing workplace interiors with an edge—while communicating their own creative culture.  All photos by Steve Hall, Hall + Merrick Photographers
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Seyfarth Los Angeles chose to relocate to a premier office tower at 601 South Figueroa Street in downtown LA in search of a progressive new work environment that would incorporate current workplace trends and achieve more efficiency. The design team worked with Seyfarth to develop a sophisticated, forward-thinking design solution. The overall plan is a warm, high-energy, innovative and tech-forward workplace that better integrates attorneys and staff amongst multiple areas of practice, supporting a casual yet professional working culture. Increase of access to natural daylight and indirect lighting, use of locally produced materials, including artwork, and green wall applications lend a modern, high-spec, yet authentic feel to the space. Single-size offices for all attorneys, at an efficiency of 550 RSF per attorney, provides accommodation for growth while reducing the cost of occupancy. While the footprints for attorney offices and support workstations have decreased in size, an influx of new collaborative spaces offers a variety of work mode options throughout the office.
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The renovation provided the opportunity for a more efficient planning structure while simultaneously yielding a unique spatial workplace story. Embracing the buildings structure to create a more authentic spatial experience, promote transparency, and collaboration. In client-facing spaces the big idea was to celebrate the views and maximize the flexibility of their conference space, opening up their main boardroom to flow into reception. A broad range of working and meeting and gathering spaces are provided for the employees on this floor. On the south end of the floor, they have created a larger café to bring staff from all floors into one space during the day. The furniture and details were very carefully thought through to allow for after hours events. The grandfathered stair features a custom Chicago map that spans all five floors creating a local flare for their headquarters. Reed Smith prides themselves on their people and culture so the importance of local influences throughout their space allows them to showcase the pride of their firm and city. The renovated attorney floors are anchored by a café and corner workroom and work lounges. The corner spaces are visible from the connection corridors. Adjacent to these rooms are light vistas that allow light to penetrate the throughout the office. All materials were hand selected in a thoughtful way to allow for the inflow of daylight emphasize the bright and airiness from the space.
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“Dialogue is essential to making a greater society. Creating opportunity for civility should be a design goal for every project.” This was our mantra when we designed the Rockford Public Schools District, Elementary Prototypes project. Beginning with stakeholder meetings, until the day the first students entered the building, and continuing through the life of the building in the community – this place is about and for the community. The need for all members of this community – young students, faculty and administration, and even the neighbors – to have a place to convene. The prototype elementary school is a seamlessly integrated interior design that is synthesized with the building architecture. The 21st century learning environment facilitates all learning modalities promoting visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning through thoughtful design. The 85,000 square-foot facility is envisioned as learning village – drawing on Rockford’s agrarian roots and industrial manufacturing upbringing as a city in the midwestern plains. As a prototype, several key factors influenced the need for an interior “public” space. Despite not being initially included in the program, the design team devised a prototype floor plan that created a looped circulation surrounding all ancillary spaces. As these spaces aggregate, their circulation was co-located and transformed into a “town hall.” In a public project where every dollar counts and is accounted for, it was no small feat to invent a new space that had not been allocated. Through our research and workshops, we found the need was demanded. All activities in the school begin and end in the town hall space: student arrival, art, food, gym, meetings, safe and supervised play, dismissal, and off-hours usage by the adjacent community. This new nexus is directly connected to the gymnasium, cafeteria, library, and media center, serving as a multipurpose space in which all school activities are coordinated. This space is defined by two major elements: mass and light. Placement of clerestory windows allows natural light to flood the central space. As daylight pours in from the roof windows, it is counterbalanced by a series of wall masses in a series of bold, primary colors. Complimentary to the masses are primitive-shaped voids with matching furniture arrangements. These light-weight foam blocks can be spread apart or neatly stacked within the void shapes. As ancillary spaces extend from the main gathering spaces, additional learning postures are explored in floor level furniture, built in benches and booths, niches, and tables. Secondary colors now define new zones for students to break out into smaller groups or focus on more contemplative learning. All spaces are defined by visual and tactile elements that support the 21st century learning concepts. Learning communities are broken up into three distinct types – kindergarten classrooms, which are insular and identified by shape and color for the youngest students; 1st and 2nd grade classrooms surround a protected learning commons, with access to abundant natural light, also allowing for supervision of the students by all teachers. 3rd through 5th grades have classrooms at the exterior, with an adjacent commons located just off the circulation, allowing the older, more independent students to have a transition zone between circulation and classrooms. Additionally, the 3rd grade learning commons was constructed to meet the code-required shelter standards and is built to withstand an EF-5 category tornado. The shelter is seamlessly integrated into the commons design and can accommodate the entire school population if necessary but is ensured to function as a typical part of the facility at any other time.
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Gould and Ratner’s new office space at LaSalle and Wacker streets in Chicago, IL was part of an effort to move the nearly 100-year old law firm through its next evolution of practice. At 38,500 square feet, the overall space was reduced from an initial 45,000 square feet to another floor within the same building, while reducing personal work spaces and increasing community spaces. The construction process began in April 2018 and employees began moving in by February 2019. Total office design and construction was inspired by Gould and Ratner’s desire to create engaging spaces where collaboration and social activity could thrive. Formed in the 1930s, Gould and Ratner has represented prominent clients in diverse and complicated legal matters in Chicago and throughout the world. The firm’s services are designed to reflect the needs of well-established organizations and growing businesses, as well as those of individuals. The design challenge was to move the 1930’s law firm forward by utilizing less space with more opportunity to connect with clients and colleagues on a moderate budget while still feeling like a higher-end law firm. These factors helped drive design decisions and workspace organization within their new law office. To address the design problem, communal areas such as a lounge and café are centrally located and overlook the building atrium in order to increase connections and complement the natural energy of the building. To facilitate different space needs for clients and employees, a larger conference room was designed to include table seating accompanied by lounge seating along the three-sided windows. Individual offices with floor to ceiling glass walls allowed for collaboration and connection with adjacent open-area workspaces. A luxurious design was created by focusing high-end materials at the entry in the communal spaces, while using more simple materials, but in an elevated manner in all other locations. Gould and Ratner was pleased with the end result and were involved throughout the entirety of the design process. The result of the team’s design plan showcased the best features of the space and ultimately created a comfortable and contemporary office where employees can collaborate, work and socialize.
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Equity Office wanted their regional and management offices, a 15,000-square-foot space, to reflect their brand values, business strategies and innovations. Located in Willis Tower, their new space is a progressive office environment that includes complex kitchens with raw concrete columns and unique conferencing and collaboration spaces. The need to both retain valued team members and recruit new talent led Equity Office to create a work environment that expresses authenticity, professionalism and collaboration.
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To differentiate itself amid a competitive downtown Chicago high-rise apartment market, SixForty North Wells offers a distinctive offset-cube exterior matched by themed interiors that offer an urban living experience within an icon on Chicago’s skyline. The 23-story, LEED-certified, mixed-use development in the city’s vibrant River North neighborhood features 250 luxury apartments, outdoor amenity decks on the fifth and top floors, 8,000 SF of ground-level retail space, and on-site parking. The developer client desired an upscale living experience with a modern yet timeless design, and world-class amenities. The interior designer devised a branding strategy that utilizes high-end finishes and furniture that create a sense of luxury not typically found in a rental environment. Each interior space layers finishes and materials to complement a clean, sleek design style. The design theme draws inspiration from the industrial roots of River North -- its post-Chicago Fire moniker of Smokey Hollow, a riverfront transportation hub with warehouses, factories and forges that filled the air with thick smoke, and its evolution into an area replete with photographers, art galleries and ad agencies. In the lobby dominated by a silvery gray palette, a four-story feature wall is clad in a hand-screened wallcovering of a 1963 print of a crowd photographed at St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Unique light fixtures, an opulent carpet and a backlit marble feature wall add to a striking and gracious first impression. Passing through the penthouse-level elevator corridor graced by a bank of light fixtures that resemble old flash attachments, guests enter the penthouse social club. The focal point of the Library is a custom millwork strip-lit wall that suggests open drawers of vintage filing cabinets. Plush carpeting in onyx silver provides a luxe foundation to display bespoke shelving, lounge seating and game tables in the Game Room. The demonstration kitchen sports a hexagonal tiled floor, upholstered banquette, and chrome stools in a modern interpretation of a 1950’s diner, paying homage to the Ed Debevic’s restaurant that once occupied the site. It flows out to a rooftop deck with a pool, private cabanas and panoramic views of downtown Chicago. The interior design approach is a bold layering of modern textures, patterns and materials.
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Many companies have learned that a new office space has the power to ignite employee engagement and culture, and the American Association of Endodontists 8,000 square foot relocation from the American Dental Association building to nearby 2 Prudential Plaza supported their desire to do this. The design goals of this space were to create more opportunities to engage and interact with coworkers in a meaningful way. The American Association of Endodontists specialize in saving teeth and have become a global resource for research, knowledge and education in the endodontist profession. Their emphasis on innovation and ability to inspire employees resulted in staff that have stayed with the association for many years. The high percentage of legacy staff members posed an interesting design challenge to support those members while also setting the foundation for the organization’s evolution and advancement as well as attracting new passionate members. To support new and legacy staff, we provided an adaptive and open plan conducive for both individual and group work. These functional areas are supported through color and material palettes that bring warmth, while accents of color contribute to the energy of the space. Soft lines and curved silhouettes in furniture selections support elements of warmth and provide a welcoming and comfortable space. The welcoming experience starts as at the entry to the AAE suite. The reception area is branded with colors and signage that references the brand logo and greets any employee or guest immediately as they walk through the doors. The feature wall behind the receptionist includes photos and personalized information about each team member on the workspace side so that every team member sees themselves and each other in the workspace upon arrival and exit. Focus rooms and offices were added against the core and off the glass to provide a private area for employees to conduct meetings and allow ample light to fill the work areas. A large conference room with both chairs and lounge seating allows for more than enough space to bring clients and employees together. To set the stage for a contemporary yet comfortable place for staff to collaborate and socialize, the café space has warm hues, comfortable and varied seating options, and an exposed concrete ceiling with a custom light fixture. Simple down lights and plenty of natural light pool into the break room making the space feel larger and more inviting. Technology is incorporated in this space through a large flat screen television with ceiling speaker installations to facilitate regular all-staff meetings to keep employees informed of their mission and progress. Tech and power-enabled table and counter top seating arrangements are designed to support work, employee socialization, and impromptu communication.
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Showcasing thoughtfully executed cuisine that is neither pretentious nor precious, Walton Street Kitchen + Bar is an upscale neighborhood gem serving timeless classics in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast. Featuring two unique spaces – a welcoming and open upper level restaurant and an intimate and cozy library cocktail lounge – Walton Street boasts a transitional design that blends modern and traditional elements allowing guests to feel at home away from home. Our greatest challenge was drawing attention from the street, with a tricky location on the second floor of a new luxury residential building on State and Walton Street. Additionally, with a placement in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Chicago, it was important to consider the taste levels of the building residents and Gold Coast clientele when designing the space and menu. Our strategy for design was to create an upscale yet approachable restaurant and lounge that locals could call their own, leveraging transitional design blending modern and traditional elements with a polished feel. Outside on State Street, a classic WST monogram blade and marquee canopy marks the restaurant’s location. Walking through a refurbished antique revolving door off State Street, guests are greeted by a host in the downstairs lobby, where a marble treaded staircase adorned with a custom patterned metal balustrade sets the tone for a magnificent tiered dome chandelier overhead. To the right, heavy velvet drapes mark the entrance to the Walton Street Lounge, an intimate, library cocktail bar serving crafted cocktails and aged spirits. The space offers a feeling of warm nostalgia, as if you just stepped into the private library of someone’s home. Here, greeted by a gentle fire glow, the space features warm amber lighting and charming decor. Vintage rugs and reclaimed herringbone wood flooring sets the stage for expansive bookcases and a thoughtful selection of literature and artifacts. The design is stylish yet familiar, and one could easily whilst away most of the day and night taking advantage of the books lining the walls, cocktail in hand. Upstairs, the restaurant and bar feels uniquely bold, featuring large windows overlooking bustling State Street and stylish yet familiar décor. The twenty-eight-seat bar is the room’s focal point, complete with overhead metal shelving creating a frame overhead. The dining room is lively, anchored by a large centralized banquette island with oversized clamshell booths and custom dome-shaped lighting fixtures. Windows along the perimeter emit a warm glow, featuring swaged pendant lighting clusters span the perimeter of the space, visible from the street below. For private events, guests can reserve the private dining room, which embraces the same refined yet inviting design aesthetic as the rest of the restaurant in addition to views of the bustling kitchen via one-way windows. In the end, it retains the kind of place that we, as neighbors, would want to go.
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Rose and Loon opened within the recently expanded Von Maur wing of Rosedale Center in efforts to peak interest and gain foot traffic towards the area. Without much programming, brand identity, or display specifications during the initial stages, we took notice that the space needed to be flexible and adaptable for the various future makers and their product to be displayed. The design team successfully space planned the store to create zones and moments for future maker demonstration space, a functional sink to test product, and custom designed fixtures and shelving for product display.
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The mission was clear: Transform the Pier into a year-round public place that attracts both visitors to the city and residents alike. The “theme park” tenor of the Pier would be muted. Navy Pier would be repositioned as a world-class public venue focused on celebrating and showcasing the vitality of Chicago. With valuable input and scores from Chicagoans, Navy Pier, Inc., JLL, and the design firm developed a multi-layered, mixed-use vision that prioritizes connections while building upon Navy Pier’s brand recognition. The Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion is at the doorstep of everything the Pier has to offer to its over 9 million visitors annually. Envisioned though this renovation, it provides a welcoming, authentic, and iconic celebration of Chicago. The project influences all measures of visitors, starting locally by bringing together a diverse world-class city to the same, shared space. Along with its connection to history via Burnham’s legacy and Navy Pier’s Centennial Plan, a contemporary vibe meeting today’s diverse entertainment needs, the Family Pavilion sets the tone for the future of civic recreation.
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The Tribune’s open plan encourages collaborative work practices, and allows for all of the needs of a modern media center: a state-of-the-art breaking newsroom, a test kitchen, and adjustable-height desks. Street-facing conference rooms reflect the company’s core values of transparency and honesty, and the stair—a major architectural addition to the building—creates a strong statement of urban permanence. Quotes, such as Flannery O’Connor’s powerful, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it,” wrap the low corridor leading into the reception space, and reference those found in the lobby of the Tribune Tower. An antique printing plate, along with archival photos, comics and famous front pages, were used as design elements within the high contrast, monochromatic scheme. Multimedia studios surround the base of the mammoth stair, and a mezzanine-level café allows staff to retreat from the busy production areas, encouraging daily conversation between the different departments. Each floor has a variety of places for meetings and heads-down work, and each conference room is named for a Pulitzer Prize-winning staff member. Early in the design process, the vertical series of floors rising from street level were envisioned as a hive of cultural production, with a monumental stair serving as the main artery. Millwork steps, made from reclaimed oak, are more than just a dramatic path from the ground to the creative areas—they provide a flexible, dynamic place for interaction, and more than 1,000 square feet of stadium seating facing a projection of the 24-hour news cycle. Photos by Kendall McCaugherty and Steve Hall, Hall + Merrick Photographers
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We took inspiration from some of the more urban tech spaces we’ve been designing. We knew we needed to address all the items listed above, but we also wanted to get people talking about this anything-but-run-of-the-mill financial office space. We wanted to create a destination, and why not? Just because it’s a contact center doesn’t mean it can’t be a destination. The design of the space takes an industrial direction, which is antithetical to the rest of the spaces in the building, and pretty much in your face as soon as you walk off the elevators. We designed an over-scaled perforated and cold-rolled steel signage piece with a backlit laser-cut logo, exposed ceilings, industrial linear lighting, and stained concrete floors. Immediately adjacent and off the entry, we created an oversized café space with the same industrial lighting that bends and folds its way into the space, a varied-height communal table, plywood nooks with exposed connections and subtle complementary colors to create balance. We took advantage of the abundant natural light that entered the space by minimizing built environment at the perimeter, and when it does occur, it’s conference and/or communal space. All the ceilings were left exposed, acoustically treated, and a sleek LED lighting scheme was developed to act in harmony with natural lighting. In the open office, all the desks are sit-to-stand and have views to the surrounding landscape. We employed unexpected materials, such as worn and recycled metal panels, to create storage towers and hide irregular column placement, and primary color-coded for wayfinding. We developed an easily changeable slip-form steel tube framing module that separates core circulation from the open office and holds glass panels with tongue-in-cheek historical telephone super-graphics. This was the edge they were seeking. We created an office that was downtown-reminiscent, uniquely branded, technologically-forward, uber-functional, attractive, and suitable for developing a strong and communal office culture.
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Project description: "This is a 4500 square foot building, new construction. It will be a full-service restaurant with a bar. You will help determine the size and location of the bar. The kitchen should be at least 30% of the total space, or 1350 sq ft minimum. The layout of the kitchen will be coordinated with a commercial kitchen designer, so it is not part of your project. There should be convenient (yet discreet) service stations located for the convenience of the wait staff. POS terminals should be planned for all areas of the dining area. There will be a hostess station with a small waiting area (patrons will be encouraged to wait in the bar). Based on code requirements, men’s and women’s accessible bathrooms should be designed." Space Planning considerations: "1.Select the South or East door as the main entrance. The other double door can become a wall section or secondary exit. 2. According to building codes, determine the number of additional exits required and locate them correctly on the plan. 3. Window sections can be turned to solid walls to accommodate the kitchen or bathroom locations. 4. The bathrooms should not be directly visible from the dining area, but convenient for both the dining and bar areas. 5. The raw ceiling is located at 14’ AFF. 6. Allow ample space for circulation and wait staff. 7. There should be circulation space for a wheelchair to accessible tables and to the public bathrooms." Solutions: 1. The restaurant seats 127 people with a variety of seating areas to accommodate different groups of people and maximize the use of space: booths, banquettes, tables that can be combined. 2. Circulation and bathrooms meet ADA requirements. 3. Kitchen: 1390 SF with extra exit door. 4. Acoustic solutions include fabrics on booths, banquettes, and acoustic ceiling timber. 5. Sustainable considerations: use of reclaimed wood and brick throughout the space. 6. Wayfinding: flooring changes between perimeter walls and the center of the dining area. 7. The kitchen can be seen from the lounge area making the customer part of the experience. 8. Large bar area accommodating 21 people. 9. Bathrooms are not directly visible from the dining area; convenient for both the dining and bar areas. 10. Provided POS stations and staff circulation.
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The Ounce of Prevention Fund is a non-profit organization in Chicago that educates disadvantaged parents on the importance of early childhood education. They were looking to transition to an open layout to encourage easy collaboration and to fit within a strict non-profit budget. The design team achieved effective use of the organization’s modest resources by utilizing existing construction and creating a flexible floor plan to nimbly accommodate future growth. Eliminating private office space also helped the organization increase the transparency and effectiveness of its important work. The design incorporates a clean aesthetic with vibrant accent colors and inspirational environmental graphics that reinforce the organization’s mission and values.
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The goal for Office Revolution’s new 4,000 SF working showroom was to create a special canvas to house the furniture brands they represent. The light, bright, open space was designed to encourage their client’s imagination and creativity while reflecting the Office Revolution brand.
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For the John Buck Company, the design team redesigned the existing conference center at 155 North Wacker Drive into a half-floor luxury tenant amenity suite. The building management and ownership wanted to dazzle and amaze tenants with exceptional hospitality and provide the flexibility to use the conference center for a multitude of events. To achieve a unique hotel-quality experience, enhanced service, and a hospitality-inspired aesthetic, the team converted three existing rooms into a beautiful, elevated tenant work lounge, with breakout and collaboration spaces. The lounge functions as an alternative workspace by day, where tenants may congregate and collaborate, and as an entertainment and event space for tenant use at night. By introducing vertically-folding walls that provide acoustic separation, the lounge can be combined with adjacent training rooms for large social events or divided into a variety of spaces. A leading-edge sound system and AV are also included. The team introduced a new exterior floor-to-ceiling curtain wall to the building architecture that infuses the once cavernous space with plentiful daylight and provides views of the city to support tenant health and wellbeing. In addition, collaborating with the design team’s in-house lighting experts, a stretch-fabric LED backlit “skylight” in the ceiling further enhances the atmosphere of the space. The design reflects the signature, angular geometry of the building lobby and includes high-end finishes and furnishings. For contrast, the textures of carpet, glass, and stone are inspired by the fluid Chicago River nearby, providing a play of light and dark, warm and cool, and coarse and smooth. Without compromising the option to combine conference rooms, a 25-foot-long low wall paired with a custom decorative light fixture serves as a visual barrier and design feature delineating the path from one of the conference rooms past the lounge. Custom decorative light fixtures, as well as a 50-foot-long wall, backed by an ethereal custom-etched mirror serve as a dramatic backdrop to the variety of seating options, and adds interest and detail. The redesigned concierge area increases its visibility from the meeting rooms, adds a beverage service, improves wayfinding and space identification, and introduces digital signage for improved communication with tenants. In addition, at the building reception area, the team redesigned the reception desk and augmented the lobby with architectural stone benches that encourage visitors to pause and enjoy the space. The renovated amenity suit is now a signature space that distinguishes 155 N Wacker Drive as a leading Class-A+ building focused on providing outstanding service to its tenants.
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Inspired by the idea of “east meets west,” we meshed the industrial language of Chicago’s Fulton Market with the polished sheen of a Loop high rise in this full-floor model suite. The modern office is both a social space and a productive environment, and reflects the West Loop’s growing notoriety as a tech hub. Concrete screen blocks add visual interest to windows that lack an impressive view. The surprising material greets visitors at the entry and continues along circulation areas, creating a tactile cue of public versus private spaces while acting as divider, textural screen, and ledge for standing work or cocktail hour. The building's perimeter core presented an opportunity to make the center an open forum—a hangout space, meeting area and game room—surrounded by workspace, giving staff full access to natural light. Exposed structural elements painted black punctuate the airy pink and green space, and a cross-brace enclosure creates a cozy nest with hammock chairs. Photos by Kendall McCaugherty, Hall + Merrick Photographers
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Relativity, the world’s leading e-discovery company based in Chicago, currently occupies four floors in a neo-classical architectural gem located in the city’s financial district at 231 South LaSalle Street. Requiring additional space for its growth and increasing operations, the client expanded to an additional floor, 40,000 usable square feet, which came completed with half of the space previously built-out for a speculative suite. The client desired to maintain as much of the space as possible, although an aggressive plan for company growth flexibility and adaptability were very high priorities. The key driver to the expansion was to maximize Relativity’s workspace program to embrace flexibility, while also integrating and accommodating the improvements to the speculative office suite. The workstation design solution incorporates a “spine system” which allows for desks to be positioned and rotated according to the work styles of various groups. A wide variety of alternative work areas are dispersed throughout the plan including small conference areas, open team meeting spaces, phone rooms, and amenity spaces, including a zen/relaxation room. Large group collaboration areas, meeting spaces, and break rooms are positioned in curvilinear-shaped areas further highlighted with vertical wood mullions. In addition to flexible workstation space, the large open collaboration areas on both the east and west side lend themselves to large, all-hands meeting with sliding doors opening into the larger space. Integrating technology throughout the space was also crucial to Relativity’s needs. Microsoft Surface™ hubs were incorporated into all the conference rooms and collaborations spaces. Monitors are also strategically placed throughout the floor displaying floor plans, events, new hires, and general office information.
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This existing Gold Coast kitchen in a highrise building was in desperate need of an update. The Homeowners, in pursuit of culinary excellence, spend alot of time in their kitchen so updating the appliances to state of the art Miele, Gaggenau and Sub Zero was mandatory. Concealing an existing utilitarian soffit with air vents was critical. A large decorative ventilation panel was designed above the sink wall cabinetry to allow for the proper air flow, but beautifully conceal the soffit and the vent. Framing the elevations with the grey pillars and pantries improved the visual continuity within the space. Incorporating up to date Plain and Fancy cabinetry (3 different doorstyles and 2 finishes) along with quartz countertops, porcelain wood look floor tile and handmade backsplash tile gave the final touch of both graceful design and low maintenance.
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Sterling Bay chose the top floor of their development at 1330 West Fulton Market to be their new home. This move provided the opportunity to reimagine a space to tell their ever-evolving brand story, address new functional needs, and create a workplace that supports their dynamic culture. Fulton West, the branded name of the building they occupy, located on the western edge of Fulton Market, allowed them a prime view of the expansion of the neighborhood from their full top floor space. Client conference rooms and a multi-functional viewing platform are located at the eastern curtain wall to provide a full view of their developments, the vibrant neighborhood, and the Chicago skyline. This live view allows them to bring clients to this space for meetings, walking tours, and social events to tell the history of their projects. Access to the historical Fulton Market buildings they have repurposed for companies such as Google, GoGo, and McDonalds gave them access to many historical artifacts that are embedded throughout the new workplace to tell their story. The workplace is open flexible planning that can be reconfigured as their business evolves. Adjacent to the open plan are a variety of meeting spaces to support their highly collaborative day to day activities. To further support their strong culture, a full service café, with a variety of seating configurations allows staff a space to recharge, connect, or meet in a town hall setting.
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A new workplace environment for the Asset Management arm of Northern Trust was designed as a sophisticated and timeless client-facing space, that maximizes efficiency and improves access to information. The efficient layout consolidated the Asset Management team from a floor and a half down to one floor. The space is arranged into neighborhoods that foster staff connections Service hubs are central to each of the neighborhoods and provide easy access to project rooms, Bloomberg stations and printing. The space was planned with calculated collaboration in mind. The highly confidential nature of this team meant that all collaboration had to happen behind closed doors. The design team arranged a variety of teaming space around the core and enclosed them all in floor to ceiling glass walls to ensure privacy but also enable visibility. The space features unique spaces that solve for Asset Management’s functional needs like a Research Library, a room dedicated to rehearsing client pitches and a business lounge. Upon exiting the elevators, clients are greeted by a backlit etimoe wood portal leading to a grigio marble reception desk where a concierge greets them and leads them to their designated meeting room. The neutral and timeless palette throughout the space helps reinforce the Northern Trust brand of exceptional service, unparalleled expertise and enduring integrity.
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Husch Blackwell, a well-known litigation and business law firm, was looking to create a new work environment that would allow for transparency, natural collaboration, learning opportunities and a choice of work settings to suit all styles. They opted for a radical new direction, choosing a layout that includes a variety of collaborative meeting areas, breakout rooms and private heads-down space, giving staff the flexibility to work where and how they want, in an open and accessible atmosphere. Private offices were reduced in quantity and size, given full glass fronts, and half were moved off the perimeter to allow natural light to permeate the space. Acoustic privacy was given special attention, with solutions implemented to protect the natural confidentiality of the firm’s work. The result is a workspace that is truly on the forefront of legal workplace design. Within the first few months post-move-in, Husch Blackwell has seen an increase in interaction and information sharing across the teams. Associates have commented that they feel the partners are much more accessible and the anxiety of “knocking on someone’s door” has been removed thanks to the open and transparent space.
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One of the main design challenges I faced was combining the organic, fluid nature of the Great Lakes with the rectilinear structure of the existing 1961 building, Miegs Field Airport. To merge these two elements, I looked the driftlines, the undulating lines found parallel the shore of Lake Michigan. Driftlines are a physical marker of the connection between water and land — the line is formed from the sediment left behind when a wave crashes ashore. Driftlines illustrate the geographic components’ reciprocal relationship: what enters the lake appears on land. The GLCEC’s overlapping interior partitions and hatched patterns mimic driftlines; these intersections are evocative of the symbiotic relationship that the visiting guests have with Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes Watershed ecosystem. In place of flowing organic lines, the overlapping elements found throughout the GLCEC are geometric to pay homage to the building’s mid century architecture.
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Designing this boutique fitness club was quite the creative endeavor. Open 24 hours, with a glitzy motif and colorful lighting, this contemporary fitness club is “more than a gym, it is a lifestyle,” blending fitness and fun with state-of-the-art equipment in a nightclub atmosphere. The client’s goal was a complete gut and renovation to open a new, state-of-the-art gym in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago with a nightclub vibe: glitzy, sexy, ornate, rich, and full of colorful light. Our lead designer used a gold and black motif with pops of color in lighting details. The designer wrapped structural columns in black glass with an inset of LED lighting giving this space the “wow factor” the client sought after; using a lighting control system, the client can change the color and intensity of the light details depending on the desired attitude and atmosphere. The designer also incorporated custom wallpaper made with the client’s company logo that appears in several moments throughout the space. These unique touches are evident from the main floor with equipment, to the bathrooms, to the meeting spaces, to the DJ booth. The main challenge was how to include everything that the client wanted into the space without crowding it. Mid-construction, the designer was able to add a lofted second level among the 14-foot ceilings, where the treadmills would be housed to allow enough room for each piece of equipment. The second challenge was how to get the retail space within the gym to look as sexy as the rest of the space; the designer accomplished this by using glass around the retail area, creating definition while maintaining an open feeling within the gym.
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In 2018 one of Chicago’s premier design firms celebrated a 25th anniversary and moved locations that same year. After calling a former paint factory home for seventeen years, the firm designed and moved to 833 N. Orleans. The fourth floor of the Marwen building is a classic loft space with timber columns, exposed brick, and other materials that blend into the firm’s classically modern aesthetic. But the exposed features meant spending a lengthy amount of time cleaning debris and removing walls that covered both windows and ceilings. The space is significantly smaller than the firm’s prior location, so consolidation became an endeavor. This ultimately culminated in a reduced materials library, so the current library represents only the best and most current materials considered. Those materials were used throughout the new space, including rich wood closets, matte lacquered cabinets, ribbed glass, felt wall panels, and Belgian quartz kitchen countertops. Custom furniture designed by the firm’s sister company and paintings by the firm’s founder are also showcased in the space. The move provided the team an opportunity to collaborate and express its shared vision, creating a statement for the next chapter in its history.
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With more than 1,400 people on staff, cloud-based software provider Paylocity wanted their new 308,000-square-foot headquarters to elevate and enhance communications and keep employees excited about their work. Paylocity’s brand identity has been infused into the new space, and their traditional office has been upgraded to a bright, light, open workspace with collaboration zones to bring everyone together.
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Offices and hotels are not typically designed to accommodate parents with non-school aged children. Parents with non-school aged children need built interior environments that allow them to fully participate as working professionals and to enjoy a travel stay without sacrificing or compromising their ability to care for and innate desire to be close to their children. Haven creates innovative solutions through the interior design of a multi-use development that includes a childcare center, co-work office, food court, and hotel to support parents with non-school age children. Haven is the chosen branded environment corporate name for the design solution for it's meaning "a place where people feel safe, secure and happy". The childcare center component provides care for the surrounding community and patrons of the adjacent co-work offices and hotel. In addition, it provides space for parents who want to remain close to their children, allowing them to observe their child, provide supplemental care (i.e. breastfeed, feed, comfort), socialize or get work done as needed. The co-work space component is designed for parents to be able to bring their very young children to work with them while providing support and creating a sense of community. In the co-work space, parents will experience an inspiring workplace and professional community with the peace of mind in having their children nearby. The hotel component is designed with public spaces and hotel rooms/suites that are designed to make the stay with young children easy and enjoyable. Children will experience a comfortable and safe environment that they don’t have to adapt to, instead the environment is adapted to them. It provides entertainment and developmental stimulus. It will be agile enough to support both children and parents.
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To enter into the European market for the first time, P.F. Chang’s recognized the opportunity to develop a unique look and restaurant experience for their brand that would respond to the new environment and clientele. The design team was enlisted to help develop the Asian Table concept with its debut site located in Covent Garden, London. The client’s desire to continue development in London and other European cities was stated earlier on, with the need to go into smaller spaces compared to P.F. Chang’s’ traditional American restaurants. Thus the driving design challenge that was faced was to help reinterpret and evolve P.F. Chang’s menu, operations, and floor plan to become something inspired and flexible for various future sites. The team delivered various design concepts and mood boards that could be used as a starting point for a project’s site-specific design, with the thought that each forthcoming location would be unique, yet all united by a common thread. Finding what could be that common thread, within an already well-established brand in the U.S., was a conceptual challenge for breaking into a new market. Lastly, the team felt that introducing a foreign brand to a neighborhood within a city that has deeply rooted culture and identity, begged for a space that is at least cognizant of history and reflects local character. Asian Table explores bespoke menu items specific to London in addition to the classics. The innovative approach to the brand’s prior menu brings attention to bar and pastry functions, including specialty cocktails, pastries, and desserts on display. The food and beverage preparation is designated to areas throughout the restaurant, showcasing craft and elevating the dining experience. Operators will keep to this smaller-batch menu, helping cut down on the kitchen space needed for the plan. The design team was inspired conceptually by brand founder, Phillip Chang, and the influence his mother Cecilia, a restaurateur in San Francisco, had on his career. The concept was derived through Philip’s interpretation of the road to success led by his mother – with roots in China and destiny in California, a story to push P.F. Chang’s into the international urban market. Inspiration was taken from Philip’s artistic background, and from Cecilia’s formal hospitality service. The existing space functioned as a horse stable turned jazz and blues music venue, which influenced the look and feel of the design and pays homage to the history of the P.F. Chang’s brand itself. This history allowed the designers to take advantage of the multi-textural decay of the existing walls and pipes and tap into the musical past, influencing some of the furniture design as well as the main bar. The U.K. debut of Asian Table was conceived holistically with a chef-crafted menu, an elevated beverage program and an interior feel of space, in turn providing a foundation for future locations.
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Rarely getting the chance to showcase mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire life safety systems, the new space elevates the systems to be a part of the design and let those elements be the feature. Lighting, VAV boxes and junction boxes are used as teaching tools for younger staff to see how it all comes together. Coming from a building built in 1912, the new office reimagined the old studio model into a flexible space to accommodate the evolving field of engineering and sustainability. The design weaves collaboration and technology into the studio space, allowing teams to communicate and interact as needed. Workstations are designed to allow users and groups to orient desks and storage to best suit how the team wants to work. Storage on wheels allows for project moves that can happen in an instant to support their studio needs.
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This refined industrial headquarters was built for OneSpan, formerly Vasco, a global leader in digital identity security, transaction security, and business productivity. Making the move from the western suburbs to an office in the Loop, overlooking the Chicago River, they aimed to attract millennial talent as they rebranded their firm. With its unique footprint, the design posed many challenges in both function and form. The reception serves as the client facing area broken away from the open work space by two large meeting rooms. Private offices housing the executive and management teams flank each end of the open work space. The lounge and break area are positioned down a corridor to offer privacy and limit distractions. The delicate mix of private and open spaces were created to maintain visual connectivity – allowing light to funnel in from multiple directions. To further enhance the natural light, the ceilings were exposed and painted white which added height and brightness. Coming from a large suburban office, it was vital to keep the space open and light. Dark finishes on the floor add contrast and raw texture. The polished concrete walkways function as a ‘way-finding’ tool, giving the unique footprint some flow and direction. Distressed carpets were used to offset the hard surfaces, and compliment the industrial concrete floors, while also adding acoustic benefits. The existing drywall columns were finished with painted white faux brick – giving them interest and texture. Moving from large cubicle desks to small bench style workstations it was important to provide alternative spaces for people to work, and break away from their desk. Phone rooms, reading nooks, collaborative lounge areas, a respite room, and a lounge with a mix of seating options provides employees an alternative space to work, rest, or play. The break room / lounge was designed for associates to gather and enjoy, with the intent of doubling as a dedicated space to host events. With that in mind, furniture selections were made to incorporate movable pieces, and bring in color. Mixed tiles of black and white were used in the break area millwork, complimented by decorative pendant lighting. Live edge benches and casual lounge furniture soften and complete this raw, refined, industrial office headquarters.
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Eight Eleven Uptown is an ambitious redevelopment of a former hospital site that had lain vacant and blighted for more than a decade. The mixed-income housing and retail project in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood includes construction of a 27-story residential tower with 381 apartments and eight townhouses. Its three-story podium structure contains a 30,000 SF retail space, parking and an outdoor terrace. From the lighted signage to the dramatically lit spaces, the interiors for 811 were inspired by the rich history of the Uptown theater district and its historic Jazz-Age structures: The Uptown Theater, The Riviera Theater, the Aragon Ballroom and the Green Mill Lounge. With bold ornamentation and lavish interiors, these elaborate movie palaces and concert venues are evocative of an era of vaudeville, speakeasies and exuberance. The double-height lobby features gold accents and ribbed detailing inspired by brass instruments in a jazz band. A grand stair leads up to a gracious mezzanine that overlooks the reception space and the leasing area. The lighting design alludes to the feeling of excitement created when standing under vintage theater marquees. Guests experience the fourth-floor amenity level by alighting the elevator to a corridor lit by a canopy of exposed bulbs. An intentionally dimly-lit corridor (save a bold Uptown sign), which references the underground tunnels that legend says Al Capone used as a secret escape route from the Green Mill speakeasy, leads to the building’s open-concept, day-lit amenity areas. The interior design of the Club Room embraces a vintage theatrical feel with highly textured surfaces, marble cladding, and upholstery rendered in sumptuous velvets accented with touches of burnished gold. Under vaulted ceilings, walls are lined with curated with black and white photography. In the Neighborhood Bar, bold emerald colors, a curvy divan, and stools that resemble corktops add whimsy. In addition to the interior amenities, an outdoor pool deck offers a pool, grill terrace, fire pits, and green lawns.
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Founded in 1872, Kimberly Clark and its well-known paper products are an indispensable part of life for many Americans. In 2013, the company found a two-story space on the top floors of the Civic Opera Building, and called on our firm to implement the design. They returned to us in 2017 to renovate and expand. Elements of the company's history are woven into the design, connecting the current space to the headquarters in Northern Wisconsin and the original Chicago sales office in Willoughby Tower, a 1920s landmark. Working from an earlier design, our challenge was to create cohesion and balance with the expansion and renovation. We had to rethink the existing layout to make it more responsive to the company’s work styles, as well as amplify the branding to emphasize the company’s long and important history. With frequent visitors from other regional offices, we kept workspaces flexible and open, and added several conference areas and a more formal presentation space. Anchored by a central café, the two sides of the offices each have lounges and prominent stairs, giving the space an overall sense of symmetry. We incorporated enlarged vintage photos and line drawings into the design as murals and film, bringing images of the past into the present. In the cafe, motifs from Willoughby Tower were transformed into wall covering, and a card catalog was created for product display and file storage in one of the adjacent office areas. Historical elements extend to the decorative metal ceilings, and the subtle art deco motif on the stairway railing. Additionally, we shifted the location of a stair and added more informal meeting areas.  We also upgraded existing restrooms, adding humanizing touches consistent with the company’s culture. Velvet banquettes and rattan hideout chairs give each space an upscale elegance, and contrast with the rustic, reclaimed wood flooring throughout. The new spaces successfully harmonize with the original design, and provides more visibility of Kimberly Clark’s history within the context of a current workplace.
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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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Axiom is a growing consulting firm headquartered in the heart of the Chicago Loop. In need of more space, they moved into their current offices in 2018. At the start of the project, the design team was faced with the challenge of expanding and consolidating the workplace in terms of aesthetic and functionality, while keeping with the traditional private office layout. With Axiom, we presented a solution to keep private offices at the perimeter of the space while creating an open office feel to the centralized common areas. Collaboration was crucial throughout the planning and execution of Axiom Consulting Partners. The client’s goal was to encourage employees to bring meetings out of their offices and provide several options for meeting areas depending on what was preferred or needed. Three conference rooms of varying size were incorporated into the floorplan, and private phone rooms were built-in to provide ample space for making confidential one-on-one calls. With continued growth in mind, we aimed to create a timeless look and ‘future-proof’ the floorplan so that the inevitable expansion would pose no obstacles. We staged the floor in a way that they could easily build out additional office spaces and meeting rooms within their current space. The space is reminiscent of its surrounding urban environment. Pulling inspiration from graffiti art – monochromatic spattered carpet was selected to mimic its movement and aesthetic. Wood, black metal, and concrete materials mix to create a modern, masculine atmosphere while the rich brown leathers to add warmth domesticity to the cool, urban environment. Texture played a big role in the final design. Rather than using color, we added interest by combining different textures and topographic levels. Wall heights were lowered in certain locations to create the illusion of containers within the space. The varying wall heights, furniture compositions, fabrics, and raw materials encourage you to explore and utilize the open office spaces – pulling people out of their private offices and facilitating a more communal and interactive workplace. The reception area is canopied by cross-hatched wood slats. This sculptural element spans across the lounge seating, flanked by a large conference room, coffee bar, and islanded phone rooms for guests. The reception area includes 360 degree views of interactive common areas, drawing you further into the space. A neutral, yet moody palette, was created to complete the space – blending materials and textures of wood, textural carpet, leathers, and concrete. Matte black tiles, hardware, and lighting in the break and common areas add to the vibes of this Chicago Loop office space while wood furniture pieces and rich fabrics bring it all together.
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I moved the kitchen into the much larger living room space with a cathedral ceiling. The old kitchen was converted into laundry/pantry/message center. The door to the dining area was located in a spot centered between existing HVAC locations. The wall between the old and new kitchen was doubled up to allow for two pocket doors, while leaving the existing plumbing undisturbed, to use for the laundry sink and clothes washer. An island kitchen gave them an L-shaped seating area where they could engage each other while dining. The design allows for multiple cooks. Natural Walnut and radius cabinet ends with supporting leg details gave us a retro Mid-Century feeling. A unique batten detail was repeated around the kitchen to pull everything together. A dramatic custom hood gets your eye traveling up to appreciate the ceiling. Vintage pendants were used over the island and augmented with LED spots, dramatic up-lighting, and under-cabinet lighting to allow the client to vary the mood and for sufficient task light in the space. The old appliances were housed in spaces that allow for easy upgrade later. The toe-kick area is deeply recessed to give the illusion that the legs are structural. The matching special stone was sourced for the island and was book matched and given a leather texture. The seating area was slightly elevated and made of walnut that was matched to the cabinetry for a more comfortable surface on which to rest your arms. Special brushed gold recessed hardware and geometric patterned tile complete the vintage look. A sitting area was left for entertaining medium size groups. Access to the dining room and to the raised deck accommodates large group entertaining.
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We were challenged with designing an interior architecture that would attract the growing technology workforce in Chicago. Our design explores the balance between high-tech minimalism and natural whimsy through the integration of building branding and interior architecture. Branding components weave through the major common area spaces, entry lobby, elevator lobby, mail room, bike room, and the rooftop lounge in order to thoughtfully create continuity for the interior experience. Various branding representation methods were utilized, from perforated wood patterns to laser-engraved porcelain tiles, each with deliberate intention of creating subtle texture on a wall or a high contrast visual.
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Almost Home Kids (AHK) partners with healthcare organizations to provide a homelike setting that supports transitional care for children with complex medical issues. OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois partnered with Almost Home Kids to implement this turn-key model (operations, building prototype, financial model). Breaking traditional paradigms in healthcare by supporting children in appropriately-scaled settings with flexible care options, the design is based on the Almost Home Kids’s mission and the goal of celebrating the uniqueness of each child and their personal journey. AHK officials say their facilities are a cost-efficient alternative (roughly $1,000 a day, versus three times for an ICU hospital bed) that offers patients and their families a comfortable place where they can be trained to use items like ventilators or feeding tubes once at home. One of the design challenges was to ensure the feeling of coming home was embodied throughout every aspect of the 22,000-square-foot house. Our team believes in the power of vision and felt it was critical to conduct visioning sessions with the AHK and OSF to come to a consensus and form initial guiding principles that are used as the foundation of the design. The vision of a non-clinical setting was pushed by the design team by selecting unique furniture and textiles. We challenged the status quo of what defines a healthcare fabric as only being vinyl, flat and subdued. Manufacturers have come a long way in the past five years by changing the healthcare markets view on what fibers are bleach cleanable and soft to the touch. By playing an active role in early formation, stakeholders established a sense of shared authorship, mutual understanding and trust in creating a transitional medical facility with a residential feel. We carefully selected “high-touch” finishes that embody color and rich textural tones along with textiles approved for clinical use. Usually commercial fabrics are considered strong when they are over 50,000 double rubs but the AHK home, you will not find anything under 75,000 double rubs with 100,000 used in high-traffic areas. Soft-handed fabrics full of woven texture and saturated color are found throughout the home. Using wallcovering with a woven texture adds a more comfortable look to the environment while still protecting the gypsum from cart and wheelchair traffic. We chose patterns that would remain timeless yet playful for the child. For example, the daybed in each room has a fabric that is comprised of the theme “I Spy” with hidden objects such as the sun, moon and assorted animals. In addition, outlets and furniture are strategically placed to enable children to gather while accommodating their medical equipment. Access to natural light/nature, and the overall scale and geometry also provide this residential feel. The home’s design includes a “lighthouse” reflection space (a visual metaphor for hope and direction), care team office space, physical therapy room, care points for educating the family, kitchen/great room for communal activities, two distinct wings with 12 bedrooms, outdoor courtyard respite space and a screened porch. The clinical care team provides active and passive care, trains, and mentors parents and other family members. Recognizing the countless hours the care team spends in the facility, the clinical space blends into the homelike atmosphere seamlessly so there is not a “front of house/back of house” per se. The same care and attention to detail, finishes, lighting, and furniture is showcased in the nursing spaces, treatment, and office area to provide a continuity of the home experience.
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As an investment company, projecting an appropriate image was of high importance to Ziegler. A balance had to be struck between representing the company’s established success without feeling lavish. Given its clientele, a certain level of privacy and formality was also required. The client’s culture, however, is highly collegial. The design team’s task was to bring that spirit to the space, while maintaining a befitting environment for its clients that was at once refined and comfortable. The design works towards that by creating a hospitality feel throughout the space. Wood and bronze tones create a comfortable warmth, which is crisply juxtaposed against a white floor and ceiling. A screening element of “fins” are a focal point within reception—and a repeated design motif in key areas of the space. The fins give privacy, while still allowing for transparency. The fins vary in shape and orientation to create a sense of movement, representing both Ziegler’s ability to be innovative as well the company’s focus on well-being. The fins are millwork pieces that are painted in a high-gloss, lacquered paint, giving them a finish and luster like car paint. While the boardroom is off reception, there are also more intimate adjacent spaces for smaller, client-facing meetings. The furniture is used to promote the hospitality feel with pieces chosen for both comfort and a sculptural quality that work in harmony with the screening fins form. A shared employee area anchors the northern end of the office. A flexible work café opens into a divisible training room/ game room and onto an outdoor terrace. The training area can be fully opened, creating a large space for either employee gatherings or social events. The floating white ceiling elements give a lightness and sophistication to the space, while also dealing with obstacles created by base building systems that could not be moved. While for security’s sake much of the staff works from within private offices, this shared space best exemplifies the company’s open, sociable culture.
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Axiom Law, an intellectual property law firm, consolidated two sites into one building, across two floors, for a Chicago hub office. The design team was tasked with creating a work environment to support Axiom’s need to enable legal teams to be flexible, strategic and drive business forward. The team observed both existing locations, which influenced programming and space planning, to achieve Axiom’s goal of a more efficient space based on actual work style. One of the design goals was to create a residential feel—a casual work environment, open floor plan with adjacent phone, focus and teaming rooms. The new work environment is comprised of mostly open (non-finished ceiling) spaces, atypical for a law firm. The layout creates several new open-air breakout spaces adjacent to the workstations, and reduces the number of formal conference rooms, often six to eight seats, after observing that most enclosed conference rooms were occupied by only two to three people. Acoustics were a concern to Axiom. The design team selected demountable storefronts to provide better acoustical separation, and installed luxury vinyl tile to dampen noise from foot traffic. Lighter finishes create an overall brighter and more energetic space for Axiom, in contrast to their previous workspace. Finally, a new café provides a communal meeting space where Axiom can speak and share information on a projection screen. The new gathering space offers an alternative work setting for Axiom’s attorneys, or a place to just eat, socialize and relax.
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Euromonitor’s vibrant new US headquarters began as a dark, water-damaged storage space in need of significant polish. We worked closely with the building and the global market research company on renovations, exposing and restoring brick throughout the space, and opening up two abandoned vertical mechanical shafts as well as three shuttered 40-foot long skylights. Our primary design goal was to highlight the industrial ambiance of the century-old building, engaging the existing architectural elements with the needs of a modern workplace. The company’s colorful brand identity influenced warm sunset accents, anchored by deep cobalt and greys. Multi-hued corridor graphics were developed alongside Euromonitor’s marketing team, and we balanced their intensity with relatively neutral lounge areas and workspace. Gathering spaces positioned below the shafts were dubbed “The Refectory” and “The Forum.” Planned for versatility, they were designed to hold Euromonitor’s full staff, while taking advantage of the shafts’ unique verticality. Polychromatic transparent panels pivot around the Forum, creating a saturated screen that separates it from open workspaces. Truly a hidden gem, our design transformed the gritty space into a flexible, functional office full of architectural surprises.
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The goal for this home was to create an historic feel using timeless materials while also being true to the modernity of such a sleek new construction. No detail was overlooked in the designer’s desire to invoke a feeling of nostalgia.
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Founded in Switzerland in 1863 and still headquartered there, this global reinsurance company has a deep sense of Swiss style and design, celebrated and codified in its beautifully detailed global brand standards. The design team’s challenge was to deftly realize those standards, which play a significant part in underscoring the firm’s spirit and sense of place, with an innovative and fresh design that would ensure an unusually high level of security. From the Helvetica font to art and architecture, Swiss design is minimalistic, defined by simplicity, function, and the beauty of natural materials. For this client stone and wood are just that—within a defined range of grain and tone—and color is pure and pattern-free to create an aesthetic and visual consistency that associates color with function and type of work across all offices. At the reception, the palette is refined and soothing. A laminated wall of textured glass separates the white, fluted reception desk from the guest pantry behind it. An inviting niche to the left is an ideal waiting area for visitors. For years, the firm has curated an impressive art collection and provides framed works for each office. “All of their spaces have impressive art collections and they believe that’s part of stimulating and inspiring their workforce,” said the project’s design director. With this new space, staff transitioned to a free-address (or 100% unassigned) work environment; employees choose where and how they work. Seating along the window line encourages interaction, and a variety of settings for collaboration include work cafés, lounge spaces, booths, and shared offices as needed. A bank of lockers, one for each staff, is discretely woven into the open office design with minimal impact. Well-received, this new way of working helps attract and retain talent and inspires staff to come to the office, although working remotely is still an option. Similar to the idea that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, each home base is a neighborhood with its own distinctive color: red, orange, or yellow. Since the collaborative areas are located between neighborhoods, they receive a gradient of the two neighboring home base colors creating a smooth transition between home bases. Throughout, the palette is calming and subtle, moving from soft hues of yellow to orange as the level of work becomes more dynamic. Synthetic fabrics are never used, but textures add interest and edges are always rounded. This overall approach is thought to minimize chaos, organize space, and provide a warm and familiar office layout that staff can recognize worldwide. Protecting their clients’ information is paramount for this firm and requires unusually high security. Realizing that requirement challenged the design team and drove the construction of a data wall, a raised floor, and a series of chases to separate the suite from its neighbors, since all cabling had to remain within the firm’s suite. Acoustic privacy was another key factor. Defined by the client’s brand standards, meeting areas must meet National Reduction Coefficient levels per space type, which required a variety of features, including glazed double glass, sealed doors, acoustic drapes, double panel acoustic wall treatments, and an assortment of baffles for complete soundproofing. The elegance and simplicity of this welcoming work environment belies the underlying complexity of its security and acoustic requirements through a sensitive and timeless design.
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Tracing its roots back to 1897, CNA Financial is one of the largest commercial insurers in the U.S., providing services to businesses and professionals globally. Since 1973, its headquarters have occupied an iconic Chicago Loop tower. The move in 2018 to a nearby, new 35-story tower enabled them to take advantage of new infrastructure, efficiencies, and the ability to effect changes in their workplace, leading to a cultural transition from hierarchy and traditional work modes to a collaborative, brand inspired, state-of-the-art environment that will take CNA into the future. A common dilemma for many established companies, the majority of employees were comfortable in their stable environment within cubicles and offices, and not looking for change. However, leadership saw change as an agent to increase recruiting, employee engagement, and productivity, as well as deliver optimal workspace to shed unnecessary square footage. As part of the design team’s workplace strategy services, the team met with key executives, led workplace workshops, and analyzed badge swipe data, workforce demographics, and conference utilization to identify a new workplace vision. Moving beyond flexibility, CNA implemented a hackable work environment that equips both individuals and teams with the choice to continuously reinvent their work experience and modify a particular space in a moment's notice. This allows CNA to keep up with the speed of business and create the ideal environment for innovative ideas to thrive. A primary workstation and private office solution and size was developed to accommodate multiple workstyles and needs while also helping to shift the culture to become more transparent and connected. By reducing private office and workstation sizes, with less private office allocations, the amount of shared space was increased by 25%, allowing for more collaborative and community space types, including the introduction of huddle and phone rooms, work café’s and quiet zones. Overall, CNA’s real estate requirement was reduced by 60%. In a hackable work environment, acoustics is a critical factor. A complex sound masking system, layered at the ceiling, provides the acoustic control critical in the new, more collaborative environment, and the use of primary and secondary circulation paths helps minimize distractions and disruptions. Amenities emphasize technology, with the inclusion of scheduling systems, large scale monitor arrays, and sophisticated audiovisual installations. Throughout the design and construction process, the team partnered with CNA’s real estate and communication teams to develop a change management strategy to ensure engagement through the transition to new workstyles, protocols, and processes while supporting a cultural shift. Primarily delivered through CNA’s internal website, including a video that “walks” around a typical floor, these communications helped employees better understand the look, feel, and function of the new space. A mock-up “pilot” event was also held for employees, providing an opportunity to experience the new space firsthand. Other tools included targeted information sessions and a welcome kit for move-in day. The new headquarters’ design is sophisticated, sleek, detailed, and geared for convenience and action, with choice, collaboration, and community as key drivers. The design pulls inspiration from the established CNA logo by transforming the two-dimensional, canted text into dynamic architectural massing, ceilings, screens, materials, furniture, and graphics. The simple, 70 degree logo cant was reinterpreted into a series of complex pattern studies, which were then thoughtfully infused into both large and small gestures throughout the space. As a result, the logo inspired patterns embedded in the project’s finishes and architecture creates a branded environment completely unique to CNA’s new headquarters. From table legs to ceilings and walls, the complex patterns were reimagined into a broad range of custom forms and finishes, including custom felt graphics, 3D carved wall panels, etched glass, and architectural millwork screens and benches. Upon entering the typical floor, the logo-to-pattern translation is featured in architectural reveals and subtle changes in materials. The floor transitions carry your eye to the two feature walls at either end of the lobby. Graphic architectural screens create a sense of separation from the pantry zone to the open office while a custom bench bridges the canted architecture and screens. Three custom wall panel products accent the collaboration areas throughout the space—two laser-cut PET felt boards and a third with 3D-carved adhesive backed PET tiles—creating an open breakout zone for impromptu meetings. Logo-inspired jacquard weave wallcoverings are also featured in the private offices, huddle rooms, conference center, and executive floor. The multi-use conference room corridor is divisible into zones that accommodate a variety of functions. Each zone is highlighted by a screening element that ties into the floor and ceiling design. The screens are framed, custom etched glass illuminated with an embedded LED in the frame. Throughout the project, custom tables add a subtle nod to the logo cant through table top shapes and leg designs. The boardroom table was custom designed with embedded microphones, speakers, and an ideal viewing angle for presentations. The result is an environment that empowers employees with choices, an increased sense of community, greater connection to CNA’s culture and brand, and flexibility to adapt to changes over time. "This move is about much more than where we are located or a new building — it is about a workspace that enables and encourages collaboration across all functions and dimensions," said Dino E. Robusto, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CNA.
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Balyasny Asset Management (BAM), an international investment firm, recently built new offices in San Francisco and New York and was seeking to establish themselves in Chicago’s 444 W Lake building. Having experienced great success with their new offices in top tier cities, BAM worked with the same designers to expand on those ideas in order to promote better connectivity between groups and personnel that had been traditionally separated by walls and private offices. The main floor is now configured by two arching corridors that run north/south. These are designed to relate to the curved geometry of the building and also to facilitate circulation between office, conference, and amenity spaces. The east corridor is lined with dramatic views of the Chicago skyline and serves to connect the reception and conference rooms. Inner workspaces are linked with the lounge by the west corridor, in order to encourage employees to work and meet in both formal and casual settings. Office circulation routes incorporate lighting designed to accent the curved wood paneling and highlight the client’s art collection displayed throughout the office. At the south end is a large café designed to accommodate BAM’s social culture. Comfortable seating is open for casual interactions, while a line of acoustically treated booths facilitate areas for small meetings and more private conversations over lunch. Diamond and triangular forms are used throughout to create large-scale custom light installations, which both tie to BAM’s logo while also neatly respond to the building’s elliptical geometry. These shapes were also employed in the 49th floor Juice Bar, which is located adjacent to the feature stair. Here, a simple steel stringer with a glass guardrail connects the lower lounge to the 50th-floor reception, revealing a two-story exterior view of the Chicago River. BAM’s library, lounge and café spaces are all outfitted with understated modern furniture that complements the design of the space. For Balyasny Asset Management, continual growth and success is linked to their workforce. Each of their offices balances comfort and performance, aiming at boosting productivity by connecting different groups in a sleek yet accommodating environment.
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