The Belmont Apartments is located in a historic vintage building in Lakeview. The design program called for renovating the core amenity spaces of the building. The last renovation was about 10 years ago. The new design elements combine fantasy with modern and vintage charm. Some areas of the building required very little work while others were completely renovated. The lobby required mainly finishing touches as the existing space already had a beautiful look. We introduced some new furniture pieces, decorative pillows, rugs, drapery, decorative lighting and plants to finish off the space. The lounge space located off the lobby was partially renovated. A combination of vintage Chicago and modern whimsy gives the space a unique personality while the large community table has become a widely used gathering spot. The business center was not being utilized much by residents so the room was renovated to include a variety of seating zones from teaming areas and personal cocoon pods. Acoustics and privacy were handled with felt panels. The laundry room was gutted and turned into a space where you would actually want to be. Gone with the basement dungeon and in with a bright, easy to clean space with natural material references that recall water, stone and wood. Art was also integrated that recalls abstract lakes of water. The club room needed to be more memorable. The theme was an urban forest. Inspired by the existing birch tree wallpaper we added carpet tiles that had an abstract leaf design recalling foliage falling on the forest floor. Natural colors of the forest were integrated throughout to create a soft and comfortable multi-functional space.
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As Wicker Park Connection opens a passage between two major arteries of the neighborhood, Division and Milwaukee, the design of the building makes a connection to the past through a modern lens. Over a century ago, Wicker Park was the northern most extent of Chicago and was one of eleven neighborhoods of the Labor Trail. It cultivated a working community and industrial ventures like steel mills, lumber yards, and greenhouses. Industry brought people, people built community. Today, young professionals seek a thriving social environment and proximity to downtown. Wicker Park Connection offers both, along with the authentic materiality of the industries that once inhabited the grounds. These materials combine with natural light to give a peaceful respite for residents at one of the most invigorated intersections of the city. Hot rolled steel and walnut combine at the reception desk and carry over to the custom chandelier which incorporates globe shades, a nod to the neighborhood’s storefront signage. The glass and wood slat wall envelopes the leasing office while sharing an abundance of sunlight. Also featured in the entrance, the steel and moss art installation is derived from the local street map and features the two major thoroughfares, now connected by Wicker Park Connection’s pedestrian walkway. Drawing upon the art of industry that sets the tone for the design concept, the millwork, plaster walls, and custom antiqued mirrors with steel frames were commissioned from artisans in the Midwest. While there are many new developments along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor, Wicker Park Connection leads with a sense of place that both honors the past and embraces the future. Its story is one of authenticity and connectivity as told through the 15-story, 146-unit architecture and design.
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When the mid-rise tower at 4 East Elm opened in 2016, Chicago’s Gold Coast community welcomed a new luxury residence at its heart. The modern but elegant architecture is glass forward, and the incoming residents had design considerations for how to best utilize this star feature. The unit shown here was completed in the summer of 2018 by the same firm hired for the building’s public spaces. Emphasis is placed on an open floorplan that provides unparalleled sightlines of Chicago’s skyline. With this visual expanse, the design needed to provide a sense of personal space within this larger, shared perspective. The result is a serene oasis that upholds the sophistication of the 4 East Elm building and with personalization throughout.
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The main concept of Infrarail is to "reveal what is hidden" and aims to bring awareness to the hidden factors of social stratification represented by train networks. The design solution draws inspiration from infrared light, a part of the EM spectrum that people encounter most in everyday life, although most of it goes unnoticed. It is invisible to the human eye but is felt as heat. Infrarail utilizes back-lit surfaces to manipulate the visibility of objects and people in the space.
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This architect and his wife purchased wooded acreage sited across a sculpted dune, its dramatic landscape featuring stately 100-year oaks punctuated by smooth, leaning beech trees. The tranquil setting initiated a surprising, unplanned discussion to downsize their highrise city property and ultimately plan a permanent transition to woodland living. From the beginning, the architect/homeowner recognized his need to address the dune’s significant slope from the road entrance back toward the woodlands. Seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor space would be paramount as was careful specification of glass systems, determined to create the largest spans of continuous glass possible while withstanding seasons that included often-brutal winters. The couple’s main-level plan sought compelling open interior space; simultaneously, that openness would also need to imbue a sense of calm and contemplative well-being in a woodland theatre of deer, fox and wild turkey. Hand-sketched spatial studies during early concept stages addressed serious structural challenges to accommodate not only a home sited on top of the dune, but design of a central shear-wall for lateral stabilization of the significant full-vision glass walls. Even as the Architect and his wife recognized that this could complicate the purity of interior openness, the couple refused to accept compromise. They sought inspiring, open community space to coexist with their main-floor personal living, seeking materials and finishes that were pure, honest and organic. Lighting had to be integrated and artful. They believed kitchen spaces were about the poetry of cooking, and envisioned additional living spaces to accommodate guests, dedicated home entertainment and inspiring work spaces. From the earliest conceptual studies, interior spaces began determining the home’s physical siting, plays of volume and dramatic views, assuring rapport between the landscape’s natural beauty and the architect/owner’s vision. Design had already skewed the angle of the house directing rear views into the lush woods. Addressing the dune’s slope, the ground-level front entrance transitions across wide-planked floors through the main level where expansive rear glass sits treehouse-suspended 10’0” above the sweeping dune. Here, a custom Corten-steel fireplace sits as a focal point of the living space, flowing into the glass-surrounded library where the combination French/sliding/folding doors blur the lines of indoor-outdoor experience. These doors open onto a serene, furnished porch, utilizing an innovative system of custom-made remote-operated screens spanning up to 18’0”, completely retracting into motorized housings. The stunning open Chef’s Kitchen remains central to main floor entertainment, where an expansive sit-around island consists of a single slab of quartzite edged 2.5”-thick. This space subtly reveals an adjacent high-functioning Prep Kitchen with its dual appliances. From here, a single-glass door opens directly onto the floating, covered Grill Deck where radiant ceiling heaters accommodate year-round outdoor cooking. Exquisite materials defining these kitchen spaces ultimately inspired textural, organic finishes throughout both structures, and using skilled local artisans for all installations grounded the residence even further to its locale. Innovative lighting utilized advanced LED systems to create uncompromising clarity of space, highlighting thoughtfully placed furnishings from a previous LA flat blended with newly-discovered and curated vintage pieces. The structurally challenging shear wall ultimately spanned 40’0” through this main level, performing as a gallery to feature an extensive art collection. In contrast to this grand openness of living space, the tucked-away main-level master suite offers the owners modern calm and refuge. A sweep to the lower level down custom-designed steel stair and railings would fulfill the owners’ entertainment checklist with a bar-lounge for guests located just off the screening room and two private ensuites, each with their own outdoor decks on the woodland floor. Insulating worklife, the compelling separate Studio structure maintains a connection to the main home, accessed over boardwalks through a serene, landscaped courtyard. The architect/owners would note that on their final day of construction, a spectacular sunset just off the lake heralded a new beginning. Boldly discarding 53rd floor highrise city living, this couple had embarked on an adventure to create an emerging sense of tranquility. The modernist new structures that evolved in the process will motivate and inspire them for years.
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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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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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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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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 design problem is to create a multipurpose co-working space that can also be used for the purpose of networking and be able to accommodate at least 70 people at a time. Other concerns include at least 24 benching stations and 24 workstations with a variety of meeting spaces. A conference space that seats at least 16 people and room for expansion is requested for larger presentations. Other concerns include acoustical control, biophilia and sustainability. To address the variety of meeting spaces, I added open and closed collaborations, heads down spaces, impromptu meeting spaces for two to four and several lounges for larger parties. There is also an auditorium for guest speakers and evening events. Acoustical concerns were addressed with carpeting in the corridors, acoustical panels on the walls and lowering the ceiling height from 14 feet to 12 feet. Biophilia is addressed with several trees throughout the space to bring nature inside, help with stress relief and cognitive function. Lastly, we have floor to ceiling curtain wall o windows to take advantage of daylighting and reduce the use of electricity. To address sustainability all furniture fabrics are at least 100,000 double rubs and Greenguard certified.
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This Chicago basement was transformed into the ultimate man cave for a newly retired couple, one-time entrepreneurs. The mancave was created to be entirely different than the rest of the Nantucket style home. While the cigar room was the jumping point, every detail and design is thoughtful and deliberate. There is a huge bar showing off a large Bourbon collection, a pool table, four televisions, and lots of old Chicago photographs. The cigar room is complete with a built in humidor and air filtration system. The highly detailed paneling and millwork encompasses the space while an entirely glass wine room sits central in the space near the games table. Solving mechanical issues to create a smokeless cigar room was very complex. It presented technical challenges as well as creative ones. Wanting absolutely everything to be functional while also balanced and beautiful was a key intention. When looking at the space there were some clear design issues that needed to be overcome, specifically the man cave needed to feel like a completely different space than the rest of the home so dark millwork was added to set a moody yet luxurious tone. The attention to detail in the millwork is a piece of art itself. There was also an unused, awkward corner near the staircase that was converted into an enclosed wine storage unit and the smoking room needed to have its own air ventilation system in order to avoid smoke going through the rest of the house.
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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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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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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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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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As Google continues to expand in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, they found themselves in need of not only more workspace, but additional conferencing facilities to host technology training sessions. Without compromising the daily individual or teamwork processes, the workplace security, the uniquely-Google fit out or the deeply-rooted, Chicago-branded conceptual design direction; a significant challenge presented itself relative to accommodating the new assembly space within a working floor. The latest 60,000-square-foot project needed to feel as if it was a natural member of the building’s existing Google community. Google’s chief objective with any project is the optimum well-being of their employees. Great care is taken to nurture the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual parts of each Googler in order to ensure they are happy, creative and productive. Relative to design, this is a welcome challenge; it presents opportunities to analyze and reinterpret the spaces we create in order to provide the most effective environments in which the Googlers work and play. Conceptually, Google maintains deep roots in Chicago, as each floor is tied to a specific theme that celebrates the city’s rich heritage. This project is no different, focusing on Chicago inventions within the construction, technology and entertainment genres. References to balloon framing, steel skyscraper structures, color televisions, mobile phones and amusement park roller coaster cars make their way through the floor plan, defining boundary and function of space with the appropriate level of function, whimsy and creativity. At the core of each Google space is the micro-kitchen and working lounge, which functions as the central social hub and arrival point of the floor. The hub of the space is the organically shaped service island that houses an abundance of healthy food and drink choices, complete with a backlit laser-cut metal relief of the Ferris wheel, another Chicago invention. The variety of seating options address singular and group scenarios alike. The serpentine banquette with exposed structural framing, softly sculptured recessed niches, semi-private nooks and open collaboration areas all strike a perfect balance of productivity, respite, socializing and the bold and colorful Google brand. The unique programmatic requirement of added conferencing space for technology training sessions presented another opportunity for design latitude. Once again referencing a Chicago benchmark, the concept of the row house was used to design and develop differently sized and placed rooms, creating a more dynamic and undulating rhythm within the space. Much like row houses, there is a uniform and cohesive design language but subtlety in each to provide some individuality. An exterior building cladding material was used in slightly different colors, textures and sizes to accomplish this, with exposed connections to reflect the industrial nature of the building and subsequent Google design language. A second and equally spacious micro-kitchen was developed to accommodate both the large floor plate size and the overflow of the added number of Googlers within the new conferencing area. A more hospitable and lounge-like approach was taken with this space, taking advantage of exterior views to Fulton Market and incorporating more soft seating, a billiard table, and a feature wall of reclaimed wood and biophilia, bringing a soft, natural component into an urban area and industrial environment. Anchoring the space is a double-sided blue brick fireplace within a glass and black metal warehouse window wall, providing a glimpse into the intimate blues lounge beyond. Taking inspiration from the traditional Chicago blues bars of the past, comfortable sofas, areas rugs, upholstered lounge chairs and cocktail tables fill the room. Historic Chicago blues super graphics line the walls and a small bar is nestled in the corner beneath the moody industrial lighting and traditional tin ceiling. The open office area provides almost limitless choices relative to workstyles. Located along the curtain wall to provide as much exposure to natural light as possible, all workstations are fitted with a sit-to-stand desk surface in order to foster a healthier approach to singular heads down efforts. Situated along the core of the building and conveniently located between the neighborhoods created by the workstation groups, breakout areas are designed to function as highly collaborative and energetic epicenters, defined by a steel tube open framing system with integrated acoustical panels, boldly colored carpet, decorative light fixtures and an abundant length of whiteboard. At the end of circulation paths and visual vistas are some unique and irreverent Chicago artifacts, such as restored cars from the original Riverview amusement park and a vintage shuffleboard table rescued from an old Chicago tavern. As a final Chicago touch, local graffiti artists were invited to come in and create one-of-a-kind pieces on walls lining circulation paths, providing visual relief from enclosed office space and injecting a bit of levity and interest into the Googlers’ workday. The sum total of the design effort is a space that is holistically healthy, resourceful, educational, sustainable, optimally functional and most importantly, uniquely Google.
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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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This project consisted of a gut renovation to a three bedroom and three bath condo. The program called for a spacious living area that took advantage of the panoramic views of Oak Street Beach. There were a myriad of existing walls separating the living, dining and kitchen areas so these were all removed. The client wanted a minimalist design that had thoughtful and functional design elements. Storage was important as the owners downsized from their suburban home to move to the city. All storage had to be hidden from view and there needed to be plenty of it. The solution was to conceal a large array of closets in the entry wall behind walnut panels on touch latch. Storage for extra dining chairs, clothing and even two bikes is all concealed from view. Guests do not know the secrets that lie behind the beautiful wood paneling. The office was a swiss army knife full of hidden storage. A hidden craft table, printer, files and general storage are all concealed behind a simple slab of cabinetry. All wiring is concealed from view with plenty of gadget connectivity. Keeping the condo spacious was addressed by removing unnecessary walls, using light colored materials and incorporating design elements and cabinetry sparingly. Contrasting white and walnut wood is repeated throughout to keep the design vocabulary simple and consistent. The neutral color of the stone and tile blend in with the minimalist interior. Roller coaster shelves and floating shelves in the living area and office add playfulness and a sense of lightness to maintain an airy feel.
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1/Productive circulation for both clients and employees - Focused on making a clear view from each section will arrow for a customer service timely. -Zoning will help lead a customer to the right section. 2/ Quality of material and safety -Matte finished porcelain tile has a feature of easy maintenance and long life cycle. Also, slip resistance which is essential for users. -Bamboo wall cladding is not only helping for creating Japanese environment but also environmental friendly material. 3/ Maximizing the seat possibility -Since seating number is one of the most important considering points to run a restaurant business, layout focused on the flexibility and having a lot of seats with enough circulation. -Zoning will help to allow for a large number party without disturbing other customers.
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The firm designed the interior residential spaces for 505, a 45-story residential tower located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. Upon entering the building, residents transition from the vibrancy and activity of downtown into a calm, serene oasis. This sense of respite emanates from Asian-infused design elements throughout the lobby, including an interior bamboo garden. The design for the community spaces throughout the building is influenced by 505’s location in “Music City;” subtle musical references include curved wood ceilings imitating a guitar, staggered linear lighting echoing piano keys, and geometric pendant lights hung in a rhythmic manner to suggest the notion of music notes. 505 is composed of 193 condominium units and 350 apartment units; as such, there was a desire to create a unified community throughout most of the public spaces. Unlike mixed-use projects that separate amenity spaces between home types, 505’s main amenities are shared and interconnected, with select condominium amenities differentiated by access. The seventh floor hosts a large, double-height community lounge with access to the pool deck and dog run. With floor-to-ceiling glass, the space is flooded with natural light and connects to the surrounding urban context. A large, commissioned graphic mural by a local artist further activates the space. The fitness center takes its design cues from a traditional urban loft with exposed brick and wood-inspired flooring. Bespoke amenities offered to condominium owners include a wine tasting room with individual wine storage, a personal training studio, and a party room that is supported by a large catering kitchen.
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Occupying an old department store building, Snapsheet sought to create a space full of energy and collaboration to accommodate its rapid growth. The single-floor 52,000 SF office is organized around unifying circulation paths and features game rooms, nap rooms, open office workstations, and numerous communal spaces. The centerpiece of the gathering spaces is the expansive café, sized to accommodate all-staff meetings. Neighborhoods were created to accommodate the specific needs of the various groups; separating louder areas from private spaces was integral in noise control throughout the space. An open variety of seating creates varied opportunities for workspaces. Live plants were introduced throughout to enhance the liveliness and vibrancy of the office.
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RXBAR’s newly constructed 10-floor office building in downtown Chicago is the first expression of the brand in built space and honors the company's modest beginnings while inspiring exceptional growth of products, ideas, teams, and brand identity. Kicking off in August of 2017, the RXBAR team chose to move into the space as a family at full completion in April of 2018. It is an office without ego and is a place of purpose - designed to foster collaboration among individuals who dive deep on personality tests so that they can propel their talents together in harmony. Launching five years ago from a suburban basement outside of Chicago, RXBAR was bursting from their small identity-less office while at the same time gearing up for a furious hiring campaign. The protein bar company was eager to establish a 215-seat corporate headquarters in Chicago's River North neighborhood and sought to translate the honesty and energy of the brand’s No B.S. packaging, ingredients, and internal mantra into their physical space. While RXBAR joined the Kellogg's family during the build-out, their identity continues to remain uniquely theirs. Their beginnings are honored by the company's original Hobart mixer proudly displayed in the largest and most public conference room and the CEO's worn wooden stool which sits near his desk. RXBAR’s egalitarian beliefs are evident in the open seating layout that offers window views and sit-stand desks to each employee. The laptop-based staff can have a seat at cafe-style banquettes and kitchen islands at every floor or enjoy the ninth floor with kombucha and cold-brew on tap, an outdoor grill and firepit, and indoor entertainment space. Impromptu collaboration areas, quiet concentration rooms, and engaged breakout lounges help the teams work according to their styles and functions. An innovation lab allows for exploration of new products, a shipping center supports the efforts of the marketing team, and the onsite fitness center and locker room reflect the lifestyle of those that work for a company whose name is derived from a CrossFit term. The interiors are honestly straightforward. Glass walls of semi-private rooms let in the light and activity of the main floor. Corner rooms are for a meeting of the minds, not private offices. Raw steel, real woods, and an abundance of plants are natural and simple, just like the product's ingredients. Brand colors find unique placement on each floor, including in the stair murals which encourage employees to hike instead of ride, and the iconic packaging makes its way to the lobby's building directory. The building shell embraces the character of the site and the curved glass tower sits just inside the bend of the elevated CTA tracks. The wedge-shaped structure is in complete harmony with its surroundings and succeeds at creating a pedestrian plaza, Class A office building, and two retail experiences on a site that had been underdeveloped as a parking lot. From the shell to the interiors, each design decision reflects RXBAR's sacred core value: honest and simple from the inside out.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Sikich, a professional services firm, is comprised of various departments that each maintain a distinct culture and client base. Our team was engaged to lead the relocation of their Chicago office, plan for growth, and combine two of Sikich’s main teams: public relations and investment banking. The goal was to create a cohesive design aesthetic while maintaining each group’s personality. Both teams were focused on creating an environment that is both professional and energetic, one that attracts and retains top talent. To solve for the varied cultures, the floor layout contains a centralized reception, conferencing area, and work café that serves as a hub for all departments. The expansive reception area features an undulating baffle ceiling that provides sound absorption, and a dynamic tribute to the movement of Lake Michigan. The eclectic break room features several seating types that allow teams a choice of arrangements—for collaborating, socializing, and everything in between. This space also provides a natural separation between the two departments, and a gathering place for the company as a whole. Each department has a character that is an outgrowth of their functions. The investment banking section of the plan is secured, and contains conference rooms equipped with technology that facilitates the group’s many presentations. Public relations, on the other hand, is equipped with displays that feature the product they market, and collaborative breakout areas geared towards flexibility and creativity. In total, we aligned the Sikich workspace with their multifaceted culture, and allowed both teams to work uninhibited.
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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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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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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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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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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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Unique and interactive environmental branding was a key design element. Bringing the client's brand and mission to life within their space was a priority in order to bring their company culture and values to life . A communication stair was constructed to connect the two floors, creating a centralized social hub for all-hands meetings and member gatherings.
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-The 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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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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Upwork is a web-based global freelancing platform based in Silicon Valley. Upon relocating their Chicago office, the design for their new 28,000-square-foot workplace celebrates Upwork’s growing presence in the city, as well as the company’s mission to provide economic opportunities in local communities around the world. To connect the new space to its surroundings, the design team organized the office into different areas named after Chicago neighborhoods. Each quadrant is denoted by large, graphic wall coverings of iconic landmarks and restaurants located throughout the city, as selected by Upwork employees. To tie the design back to the organization itself, the design firm incorporated branding elements throughout the space, as seen in the crisp design aesthetic, bright lighting, and verdant accents, reminiscent of the company’s logo. The open floor plan features sit-to-stand workstations, a number of collaboration and informal meeting spaces, quiet areas for individual work, and a large café space that can accommodate meetings for up to 150 people. Integrated technology in both the collaboration spaces and conference rooms creates a flexible, team-oriented work environment and supports connectivity to Upwork’s clients worldwide.
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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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Our scope within the XS Tennis project was to design the entry reception area, the Pro Shop, staff offices, student classrooms, mezzanine lounge, locker rooms & restrooms, as well as the clubhouse at the outdoor courts. One of our favorite elements of this project was the opportunity to incorporate millwork & lighting donations salvaged from IIDA’s Headquarters in the Merchandise Mart. When IIDA HQ moved out & the demo of their existing space began, we jumped in to save as much material as possible. The millwork ended up being incorporated into the reception desk, and at the mezzanine level juice bar. The light fixtures also ended up in the mezzanine, adding a much needed decorative accent to the general lighting. With our emphasis on sustainability, we love the opportunity to save materials from the landfill, and give them a second life on a non-profit construction project in need! One of the first design challenges we faced on this project was how to integrate the two forms of educational mentoring taking place within XS Tennis Village - academics & sports. Kids who attend XS Tennis Village receive academic tutoring, as well as tennis lessons. Our approach was to create an integrated experience through site lines & various learning-style spaces. In the Academic Wing, we created flexible classrooms that can be divided for smaller or larger group learning. Private staff offices were designed to enhance a one-on-one tutoring experience. The mezzanine level lounge, which overlooks the indoor tennis courts, allows for a more relaxed & comfortable atmosphere that may be more conducive to learning for certain individuals. Allowing visual access to the tennis courts in both the group classrooms & from the mezzanine, links the physical training to the intellectual. Additionally, an elevated catwalk along the 12 indoor courts gives parents their own space to watch their child develop through the positive reinforcement of organized sport. Our second greatest challenge that came later on in the project related to FF&E. With our goal of securing as much donated material as possible, making finishes & colors correlate in a cohesive way can be a challenge. For instance, we were tracking most grey, green, and blue as our color scheme for materials & furniture. At the final hour, a large furniture donation introduced the color red. To ensure we didn’t miss out on using a large donation, we had to get creative for alternative ways to incorporate red. We had a light fixture donation with a red film on the drum. We were intending to peel off the film to create a more neutral-colored fixture. Instead, we utilized those fixtures as-is to pull in additional red in the space. We also introduced red accessories as a way to accent the new donation. The total cost savings to XS Tennis was $232,382 in donated design time and materials.
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The interior design firm introduced wide plank bleached oak floor, walnut paneling and natural stones to bring warmth to the open modern glass and concrete home
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Inspired by the beauty of nature within and around Fairbanks, Ryan Middle School was designed to bring elements of its extraordinary context into the design of the building through form, color, and light. While the exterior took its cues from the birch forests through use of black-edged white paneling, accented with greens and yellows, the interior was conceived of as a series of "objects in the forest": a central open 2-story commons space is framed by a cheerful beam of sunshine (a smooth, rounded, double-height volume housing the music room), the aurora borealis (a double-height undulating colored glass wall enclosing the school library), and Denali (stacked faceted volumes of flexible classroom spaces). Flooring patterns create pools between spaces, defining areas of gathering and circulation. Considering unique climate challenges during the school year of cold winter temperatures and short daylight hours, the warmth of wood was brought in through the ceilings to complement the bright colors. The use of glass classroom fronts and clerestories maximize daylight and visual access to the sky across all spaces. Additional lighting features are employed to bring life and vibrancy to the colors and materials in the space in the absence of daylight. Functionally, all of the spaces are designed to be flexible and create dynamic relationships between programs. The art studio and tech classroom can open up to each other for combined creative tech projects. The music room opens up onto the commons for performances to an audience or jazz at lunch. The library opens up to the commons as well, creating a fluid connection between spaces and strongly encouraging use of these spaces together for a variety of events. Denali creates a separation between the main school commons and the scaled down classroom commons, which all of the classrooms face and open up onto. Classes spill out and intermingle. The students and teachers support one another in this open environment, which fosters a sense of curiosity and compels them to explore new ideas and activities, creating a real sense of community.
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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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Located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Exhibit on Superior is a new 34-story LEED Gold residential tower whose interior caters to the creative professional. An artistic and textured wall of letters greets residents and visitors in the lobby entrance of this 283,000 square foot building. Authentic, unadorned finishes and furnishings explore the bespoke nature of art and creates a unique experience for residents and their guests. Handmade furniture gives an organic sense to the reception area and are augmented by glass walls and modern fixtures. To create a dialogue with the neighborhood, the lobby level’s exterior wall opens to the street and the new public park that was created on the property. Using the concept of “smart living,” the building features microunits, which especially appeal to millennials working and living in downtown Chicago. One of the main challenges was designing efficient layouts for these microunits; a new and innovative product in the Chicago market. The designers focused on highly efficient design layouts that include floor-to-ceiling windows to provide an abundance of natural light to fill the apartments. Lighter finish palettes additionally brighten the microunits and allow natural light to reflect upon the unit surfaces. Another challenge was determining how to successfully create amenity spaces that cater to the microunit demographic. As a solution, the entire fifth floor is dedicated to a series of amenities that serve as an extended living space for residents. The designers created multiple spaces to accommodate a variety of purposes, including private workrooms for study spaces, a larger meeting room, and a formal dining room. All amenity spaces have dual purposes that can be used in a variety of ways. Additional amenities include a spa, sauna, gym, and library, all with direct access to the landscaped podium deck and swimming pool. Like the lobby, the use of wood and warm tones throughout the fifth floor create a warm and welcoming environment.
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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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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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Limitless Coffee & Tea is a new beverage startup which emphasizes the clean and detox-free processes used for the coffee beans and beverages. Inspired by their forward-thinking approach and cutting-edge technology in their product offerings, the team created a space that conveys this approach through the interior space of the flagship location in the Fulton Market section of the West Loop neighborhood in Chicago. The design team was enlisted to be involved with the client from the early beginning. Before a product was even developed, the team was able to help influence the look of the product conjoined with a space through initial conceptual studies. The greatest challenged faced was rooted in the brand’s identity, and designing a physical space that speaks to the clean, pure, and minimalistic nature of the brand, while still having character and feel inviting. By introducing color and geometric pattern play into the space, in addition to soft textures in upholstery and acoustical wall panels, along with natural wood, the design team was able to counter the pure white airiness with a sense of excitement, warmth, and artistic fun, colloquial to the Limitless identity. The design took off by attempting to create a space that leaves one of a higher mental feeling through the use of natural daylight and an emphasis on spatial verticality. The result is a slick coffee bar outfitted with high performance equipment all housed within a light, airy and minimalistic space. The cafe overall was designed to perform as an alternative location to working in an office by providing areas for both individuals to work and groups to gather and meet. There are a variety of seating types mixed throughout the plan to appeal to. Nearly every seat in the cafe is equip with power outlets and some tables offer marker boards for ideas creation. The meeting table towards the back of the cafe has both a large magnetic glass dry-erase board as well as a wall-mounted TV open for anyone to use for presentations. At this flagship Fulton Market location, the team designed a central skylight to flood the space with daylight and cast sun shadows on a colored glass focal wall as a dynamic art installation. The coffee bean roasting process is also on display and occurs behind a steel-frame and glass barrier as a way to showcase the honest approach to the coffee making process, while making a slight design nod to the historic Fulton Market District. The Limitless brand itself has introduced a unique product line to the consumer market, coupled with an identity that promotes inspiration and collaboration for all those who seek happiness and success, no matter the goal. The cafe space was designed to foster these idealistic notions, finally offering a food and beverage concept for thinkers, dreamers, experimenters, and every day hard-workers. Whether or not guests leave with a feeling of being ‘Limitless’, most would agree that this is not just your average neighborhood coffee shop. The flagship Fulton Market cafe is its own destination to venture for a visit. Aria Group has successfully helped Limitless open two additional cafe locations of different sizes this year, proving the scalability of the concept. The second location opened in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, and the third opened within an office lobby space on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.
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The headquarters for Chervon, the power tool company behind the well-known Skilsaw and Ego Brands, is a warehouse, testing lab, showroom and collaborative workspace all in one. By using materials typically used in the construction and home improvement industries in unexpected ways, the design reinforces Chervon’s slogan of “Creating better tools, for a better world.” The headquarters for Chervon, the power tool company behind the well-known Skilsaw and Ego Brands, is a warehouse, testing lab, showroom and collaborative workspace all in one. By using materials typically used in the construction and home improvement industries in unexpected ways, the design reinforces Chervon’s slogan of “Creating better tools, for a better world.” The warm and neutral color palette is mostly made up of concrete, wood, glass and turf to facilitate a homey ambiance while also serving as a backdrop for the industry-leading brands Chervon represents. A variety of Brand Rooms, video editing suites and product showcase spaces allow Chervon to feature their products in an impactful way. Chervon, a rapidly growing tools manufacturer, wanted to establish a headquarters presence in the US. A company that relies on its speed to market model, and thus prioritizes innovation, Chervon needed an office space that would enable this intense caliber of product testing, while providing its employees a comfortable and home-like environment. The new space accommodates the company’s tool assembling functions by containing rooms in its warehouse for lithium iron battery assemblage, labs for product testing, and even a “torture chamber” in which tools are pushed to their limits so specialists can determine durability. The workplace has more familiar amenities, such as a gym, a café, a video studio to create and produce promotional footage, and even a showcase space that educates employees on the company’s history with an outdoor terrace extension. The plan is laid out to maximize access to views of the surrounding natural environment in order to reinforce an unconventionally restful atmosphere.
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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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For more than two decades the top floor of Prudential Plaza sat vacant, full of natural light and incredible potential. The former observation deck was punctuated with what was once the “world’s tallest escalator,” and we relished the idea of transforming the space into an airy, lofted workplace. When a media company selected it for their national headquarters, we were excited to see the potential realized. Despite the obvious asset of incredible views, the terraced floor, which had worked well for an observation deck, was not well suited to other uses. We opted to completely remove and replace the floor slab and expose the raw concrete ceiling, moving air distribution beneath a new raised floor. The suite entrance is flanked by impactful quotes celebrating the American First Amendment right of freedom of the press, etched across a glass divider. The divider masks a ramp from the pantry and entry, while visually connecting the remaining two levels. A subdued, neutral palette and premium finishes contrast with areas of exposed concrete, and arresting views of the city and lake. A round halo of light crowns the executive boardroom and is visible from Millennium Park, adding a new twinkle to Prudential’s skyline presence. Photos by Kendall McCaugherty, Hall + Merrick Photographers
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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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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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City Club Apartments Cincinnati is a restoration and adaptive reuse of a Cincinnati Landmark. Constructed in 1928, this 300,000 SF Beaux Arts building functioned as an office building in the heart of Cincinnati’s downtown business district. The property is located along the Ohio River and overlooks the Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark. The project included the restoration of the historic façade and a full renovation transforming the building from office space to 294 market rate apartment units ranging in size from a 395 square foot Nano Unit to a 1400 square foot penthouse unit. Residents and guest enjoy the convenience of 333 underground parking stalls for easy access to their home, retail and restaurants on site. Residents and guests are welcomed to City Club Apartments with an historic boutique style hotel lobby. Historic travertine floors and walls and an ornate gold leaf ceiling remain in place as a reference to the past. Bold and modern insertions to the lobby including custom chandeliers, large scale trees and framed art panels enhance the dramatic effect of the processional leading residents through the lobby to the concierge. Guests are greeted by a wine bar at the main entry that opens to a shared lounge providing additional seating to the wine bar and providing residents another spot for socializing. As residents experience the property they have access to a long list of amenities. A state-of-the-art fitness center allows for an unrivaled workout experience. The eclectic quality of the lobby and lounge interior carries to the rooftop amenities where residents can enjoy a luxurious indoor pool complete with spa, full height mirrors and chandeliers that open to a sun deck. The adjacent clubroom is equipped with a gourmet kitchen and bar, gaming space, communal table and ample lounge areas around a fireplace.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s (ABPN) new two-story headquarters supports the organization’s growth by providing modern offices and upgraded, functional spaces to host forums with practitioners from around the country. The design creates a national home that reflects the organization’s mission and leadership in the industry. Through the front entrance, a glazed floor-to-ceiling wall frames views to a private courtyard and the lake beyond, illustrating the indoor/outdoor theme of the project. A floating communicating stair made of glass and white quartz connects the ground floor of forum and training session spaces with the second floor comprised of offices and administrative support. Adjacent to the lobby, four 300 sf conference rooms and a 3,000 sf multipurpose room host forums and training sessions. Completing the first floor is a reception area, 1,000 sf café, and four smaller ‘focus’ rooms to facilitate breakout conversations. Clean lines balanced by rich walnut finishes create an open and welcoming environment for the first floor spaces. A variety of textures, such as carrara marble quartz in the reception desk, chiseled stone in the café, and velvet furniture, softens the sleek architectural elements and complements the warmth of the wood. Due to the building’s L-shaped configuration, the private offices on the second floor all have access to natural daylight and views. A conference room, huddle rooms, and a break room also occupy the second floor. These areas feature inviting design elements through the vibrant artwork and furniture selection. To serve the wide variety of ABPN’s forum sizes, durations, and types, adaptability of use was a necessity. The lobby serves as the main arrival space, but can convert into a dining space in the evening. The multipurpose room can adapt from one large room to two smaller rooms that may host a variety of uses easily and quickly with multifunctional furniture and AV solutions to suit conference, classroom, lectures, and dinners. Future expansion space was also an integral part of the layout. ABPN’s new headquarters reinforces their exceptional work and continuing legacy within the profession.
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The design problem was to create a premiere beachfront dining destination, serving fresh seafood and seasonal cuisine in a classic coastal setting. The design solution utilizes coastal inspired materials, finishes and architectural elements to set the tone for the dining experience. Large windows provide abundant natural light as well as views of the dramatic bayside setting. Columns and large ceiling beams create intimacy and acoustic control by creating different "rooms". A variety of seating options create flexibility for various group sizes. Wide aisles, slip-resistant flooring and accessible restrooms provide patron comfort and safety.
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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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