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Project Tour: A Chicago Financial Firm

I first visited this building in 2007 for my first ever design lead project. Only a few years out of school, it was my first opportunity to design a space on my own. Now, 13 years later, my design studio has designed an expansion to that space - blending today's trends with my original design. I couldn't be more excited to tour this project for you all!

Located in a 100 year-old building on the Chicago River, the industrial charm inherent in the architecture is impossible to ignore. Our design celebrates the textures of the original concrete and metal details. In the employee cafe pictured above, we added vintage charm to the industrial space by custom designing a tile floor, sourcing vintage style furniture and lighting, and with the addition of custom wood wall panels. We wanted this space to feel cozy and more like a neighborhood cafe, less like an office. The design and furniture layout has encouraged employees to use this space not only for lunch time, but also for casual meetings that do not require a meeting room.

The light fixtures wrapping the columns were designed to feel vintage by using standard brass fittings and looping retail lighting through each arm. We chose a retail light with brass netting to complete the look!

The high traffic nature of the cafe entrance means it will get the most wear and tear. We covered the walls, floor and column in tile to ensure it will hold up. The floor and column are both custom designed by our team for this project. The vintage pattern is inspired by old cafe floors and uses the colors established in our palette.

The material palette throughout has a warm base with mostly rich, warm accents in color and metal. There are also moments of balance with cool green and blue accents. Vintage elements were brought in through the use of brass, patterned glass, aged subway tiles and patterns. We were inspired by classic menswear in some of our selected patterns, using classic plaid and herringbone designs.

The wide building corridors were left intact to provide two traffic lanes - one for walkers and one for scooters. The custom designed runners throughout designate the lane for walking. The corridors will also act as a growing gallery of local artists like the mural below!

The entry into the office space was designed to be a dramatic experience. The industrial chandelier is made of several blown glass fixtures with brass hardware and chains. The floors were left exposed as the original concrete with a vintage oriental rug centered in the lobby.

Due to the large floor plate of this office, we designed smaller cafe areas to provide convenience to those who sit further from the large employee cafe. These spaces, called teapoints, not only provide coffee and beverages, but also allow for impromptu conversations between employees. We used the company's extra stock of old lumber to create a herringbone feature wall opposite of the custom kitchen cabinetry.

The warm palette of this teapoint includes the reused lumber, a rare brown marble, white oak cabinets and brass details. Raw steel pendant lights are cantilevered from the adjacent wall due to the existing low ductwork.

The old building restrooms were completely renovated. We chose to keep the concrete block walls for their industrial texture, but painted them to fit our palette. Conduit was left exposed behind lighting and integrated into the design. The mostly cool palette was warmed up with wood toilet stalls and amber colored lighting. The sinks are made of concrete and custom colored, which resulted in a soft texture - unexpected for a concrete!

In the workspace, we highlighted the building charm again by lighting areas of exposed brick and concrete. The mostly neutral palette is accented by colorful moments in the collaborative furniture and cabinetry.

We designed several types of meeting spaces - some open to the workspace and others enclosed. The mix of space and furniture types allows employees to select the type of meeting space that will allow them to work best.

The largest conference room was designed for their most important meetings. Still celebrating the industrial building with the exposed concrete columns and ceiling, we added the right balance of warmth using leather wall panels, a gold leaf wallcovering, custom made solid wood conference table and chandelier lighting. On one side of the room, we built in white boards within the leather panels for team collaboration. On the other side, we added velvet upholstered benches to allow for overflow seating. The final design is a high end feel, yet comfortable and hard working for those who use it.

A private meeting room suite was designed for a specific group's needs. We designed this warm corridor with sconce lighting, vintage rug and accent seating to welcome guests into this area. It's meant to feel comfortable from the entry experience, into the room.

In each conference room, the building's original brick walls and concrete columns were left as the main accent in the room. The bucket-style chairs and solid wood table enhance the comfortable style yet are suited for long meetings.

Several shower rooms were designed for employees who bike to work or workout throughout the work day. The simple palette of black and white tiles with green accents and a wood vanity create bright spaces to get ready for their day.

Project: Chicago Financial Office

Completion: 2020

Photographer: Kendall McCaugherty, copyright Hall + Merrick Photographers

Designed in collaboration with Valerio Dewalt Train

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