Tuesday, July 22, 2014

COMING SOON: Real Good Juice Co

Monday, February 24, 2014


It's been almost a year since Reconsidering An Icon, a Chicago Architectural Club exhibition organized to generate ideas and discussion around the proposed demolition of Prentice Women's Hospital.   At the time, Bertrand Goldberg's Brutalist building had been out of use and Northwestern University was planning to replace the structure with a new facility.  The exhibition paralleled a series of high profile articles, public meetings and other pleas to Save Prentice, but in spite of these efforts the building is undergoing demolition and Northwestern has chosen to move forward with the design of its new facility.

We were recently reminded of such preservation efforts (and the demonstrable viability of reuse pursued in our own proposal, Prentice Futures) as we came across Five Manhattan West, a proposal for the reuse of a late 60's Brutalist office building in New York by REX architects for client Brookfield Development.   The project presentation suggests a nuanced design approach built upon information gathering, analysis of the building's specific attributes (extremely deep floor plates, high ceilings with varied floor-to-floor dimensions, and a pyramidal building form) and the conceptual re-positioning of these characteristics into aesthetic, environmental and economic assets.  Our firm has been pursuing similar approaches to design that seek out this sort of essential context.

Image by REX Architects


As we began our research for the Prentice Women's Hospital exhibition, there were assumptions about how hospital campuses develop over time; how they might build to a critical mass, demolish portions of the campus and then rebuild again in a sort of large-scale, never-ending urban redevelopment cycle.  However, a study of Northwestern's campus development over it's entire history indicates a constant growth.  Having never fully occupied it's property it was only recently that the they were faced with the prospect of demolishing one or more structures to make way for newer, bulkier masses.  We also discovered that building typologies and densities changed over time in order to accommodate the ever-changing spatial configurations associated with the evolution of healthcare.  These changes can be seen in the timeline diagram below.  

The study suggests that Northwestern would no longer possess vacant property around the Streeterville campus on which to build and thus from this point forward would be always faced with the decision to demolish a structure with each demand for a newer, bigger facility.

Image by KA

Following site research, we uncovered Northwestern's entire program for it's new facility.  At it's most fundamental, Northwestern's program specified three primary design parameters: 1) floor-to-floor connections with the adjacent building, 2) 25,000 square feet area per floor, and 3) 15 foot floor-to-floor heights to accommodate extensive mechanical equipment.  These specific requirements were not met by Goldberg's Prentice.  Conversely, the preservationists proposed a fully restored and re-programmed Prentice Women's Hospital.  While protecting the cultural artifact, the position does not address Northwestern's proposal for a new facility.  Our proposal suggests both demands can be met and with value added.

Our reasoning began with the proposal that air rights over Superior Street be granted to Northwestern by the City of Chicago.  As an alternative to demolition, this displacement of buildable volume would have effectively allowed Northwestern to reclaim the portion of the site lost to Prentice and meet the original design parameters it set forth.  Prentice would have been preserved, Northwestern's specifications would be met and a new marker may have joined the Streeterville skyline.

Image by KA

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Trades are wrapping up soon.  Finishes and cabinetry forthcoming.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Logan Square Renovation

Construction has commenced on a single-family residence for our friend and web guru Dave Kaplan.  Rough framing is nearing completion and window installation is imminent.  Stay tuned for updates as construction progresses.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

NEW WORK: Smart Museum

The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago has selected our office to design an exhibition that will support the Smart's 40th Anniversary programming.  Schematic design is underway!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Construction has commenced on a renovation and addition to a single family residence in La Grange, IL.  
Framing is nearly complete and the building should be wrapped soon.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Construction is wrapping up at the Hirbour Tower.  Five of the seven floors are occupied and as you can see from the empty boxes, the remaining units are in final trim-out.  We are particularly happy with the feel of the finished spaces.  The proportions are ideal and there is an abundance of natural light and great views.

At the rooftop deck, the redwood trellis frames an incredible view of the surrounding city and landscape.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Construction is underway on a small project for photographer Laura Letinsky.  Located in Hyde Park, Chicago, the design includes an exterior stair and series of porches.  Working within tight building code parameters and capitalizing on a zoning exception that allowed rebuilding in a side setback, the design maximizes usable areas by reconstructing the footprint of an existing structure and through the careful positioning of an egress stair.  A calculated configuration of steel framing elements minimizes columns and allows a larger deck at the second level to cantilever off of the north facade.  Wood screen walls provide security and add privacy while emphasizing the verticality of the structure.

Sol Lewitt.  Drawing for incomplete open cubes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Kavi Gupta Elizabeth St

Thursday, February 28, 2013

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Clay/28 Multi-Family

Clay/28, our second multi-family development in Denver is moving along and it is exciting to see the interior and exterior spaces take shape. The lower level, concrete parking enclosure is poured, the steel frame and metal deck is complete and all 21-units are almost completely framed. All the trades are on-site, windows will be installed soon and we're looking forward to seeing the standing-seam cladding go up in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates!

Look at that view!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

To a Prosperous 2013!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Prentice Futures

We were honored to be invited by Chicago Architecture Club to prepare a proposal for the upcoming "Future Prentice" exhibition co-sponsored by the AIA Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  In light of the recent news on the Mayor's position, we feel that his support for "re-building on the site" doesn't necessarily require the demolition that it implies.

Read more and comment at the Chicago Sun-Times