Page N1.2 . 03 December 2008                     
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Chicago AIA Awards 2008


Adding to the thermal isolation of the skin are high-density plastic liners separating the bronze cladding of the heavy sliding glass units from the structural aluminum frame. Such careful engineering to master the elements on the one hand allows for artistic play with them on the other: shafts of light perforate vertically, and snow and rain fall through vertical glass enclosures within the volume.

Distinguished Institute

Located on Chicago's historic Michigan Avenue near Lake Michigan, the new building for the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies houses a museum, library, classrooms, 400-seat theater, kosher cafe, community event space, and storage space for collections.

Krueck + Sexton Architects designed the ten-story structure with an irregularly faceted front facade. Though the modern glass front contrasts starkly with the predominantly masonry-faced buildings surrounding it, the glass wall also relates to its older neighbors. For example, the average size of the 726 individual panes of glass is comparable to the standard window size of nearby buildings.

At Spertus, two Y shapes appear in notable roles. In the building's open lobby, the first and second floors are connected by a simple stair shaped in section like a Y. More structurally significant, a Y-shaped extruded aluminum mullion is the essential repeated part that makes the 556-piece glass facade possible.

Modern Gothic Detail

A winter garden serves as the primary organizing element for the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business, designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects. The multistory atrium's quadripartite pointed vault roof of steel and glass efficiently addresses several challenges.

The four main structural columns flare outward as they rise, their tubular steel components continuing upward to become vault ribs, which are in turn connected by thin horizontal beams. To accommodate snow loads, the design concentrates weight on the column axis rather than in the span. The system also conducts rainwater through the columns to a reservoir, with the vault exteriors serving as funnels pointing toward the hollow column cores. The concave ceiling also facilitates year-round natural ventilation through convection.

Other benefits are aesthetic: the vaults allow for a nearly column-free public space, and the proportions of the roof echo the gothic architecture prevalent on campus. The jury appreciated the vault and column structure as "essential to the success of the winter garden" as a welcoming common space for students and faculty.

Residential Interiors

Brininstool + Lynch combined the traditional materials of brick, concrete, limestone, steel, and zinc to create the Claremont House in Chicago. Among the features distinguishing the three-story structure as distinctly contemporary is the 63-foot- (19-meter-) long open plan on the first floor. The only fixed object in this space is a stainless-steel island for kitchen and dining.

Large expanses of glass at either end of the first floor provide transparency from the street through to the back yard, and reveal the below-grade courtyard and garage green roof to occupants inside. The basement level is also framed in glass, while brick offers more privacy for bedrooms on the top floor.

Stairs offer material diversity. Indoors, a three-story volume of millwork separates the floors from the stairway, while perforated zinc panels wrap an outdoor stairway from the kitchen to the courtyard.

The interiors jury lauded the architects' thoughtfulness, restraint, and attention to detail. One juror remarked, "It looks like it was designed from the inside out, and the exterior is the result."

Blue Restaurant, Red Office

Inside Chicago's historic Merchandise Mart building, VOA Associates Inc. created the dynamic atmosphere of bluprint, a 7,000-square-foot (650-square-meter) restaurant. Aimed at the design-savvy customers of the Mart's many showrooms, the restaurant interior achieves drama through bold forms, play with light, and contrasting textures and colors.

The bar, trapezoidal in plan and lit from within, forms a focal point for the space. Sculptural booths of zebra wood envelop diners along the south wall. On the opposite side, moveable panels of blue glass mark the entrance to the formal dining area, with its long tables to foster communal dining.   >>>

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At the southeast corner of Case Study 1875, two sliding glass walls provide for seamless connection between the house's dining room and patio.
Photo: Hedrich Blessing Photographers

ArchWeek Image

The patio extends into an outdoor room partially enclosed by concrete walls.
Photo: Hedrich Blessing Photographers

ArchWeek Image

The new building for the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies features an irregularly faceted main facade.
Photo: William Zbaren

ArchWeek Image

Krueck + Sexton Architects designed the Spertus Institute, which received an honor award in the distinguished building category from AIA Chicago.
Photo: William Zbaren

ArchWeek Image

The stark interior of the Spertus Institute.
Photo: William Zbaren

ArchWeek Image

Rafael Viñoly Architects designed the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business. The winter garden's vault roof was recognized by AIA Chicago as a "divine detail."
Photo: Brad Feinknopf/ Feinknopf Photography

ArchWeek Image

The vaulted glass-and-steel roof at the Graduate School of Business, as seen from above.
Photo: Brad Feinknopf/ Feinknopf Photography

ArchWeek Image

The winter garden's composite columns and curving vault roof recall gothic architecture.
Photo: Brad Feinknopf/ Feinknopf Photography


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