AIA's Best New Buildings from Chicago
Mansueto Library is 240 feet long and 120 feet wide (73 by 37 meters), and the dome reaches 35 feet (11 meters) at its highest point. A light steel grid shell of six-inch (15-centimeter) structural steel tubes supports an aluminum frame that holds the low-e, tripled-pane insulated glazing units. While the lower portion of the dome is transparent for maximum visibility, the upper portions are fritted to provide shading and to reduce bird collisions with the glass.
Vertical Office Expansion
Phase II of the high-rise headquarters for Health Care Service Corporation was completed in 2010 in a surprising location: directly atop Phase I.
Sited at 300 East Randolph Street in downtown Chicago, that 24-story expansion proceeded just as architecture firm Goettsch Partners had originally designed it in the mid-1990s.
The goal of accommodating growth for the client, a health benefits company that operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in four states, was not unusual. But the design team's innovative solution of planning to build upwards provided considerable savings over purchasing an adjacent parcel of land.
A central architectural challenge was to accommodate vertical shafts for future elevators without constructing large, unused, inefficient voids in the initial 33-story, 1.43 million-square-foot (133-square-meter) building, completed in 1997.
The solution is an "atrium," comprising five open structural bays, that runs the full height of the completed 57-story building. The two outer bays each contain eight-car elevator banks that service Phase I. Eight-car elevator banks were added in the two inner bays for Phase II. In the central bay, an open stair rises from floor to floor, with breakout spaces every three floors.
The atrium helps transmit daylight and views deep into the floor plate, and gives a sense of the building's verticality as rarely experienced within skyscrapers.
The exterior cladding materials for both phases — glass, stainless steel, and stone — were chosen for their graceful aging and for easy matching when the expansion began.
The continuity of materials provides a consistent appearance for this prominently located building, sited just north of Grant Park, overlooking Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan to the west.
Among other green design features, an onsite thermal ice-storage facility provides chilled water to cool the building and a network of other linked properties.
In Holland, Michigan, the furniture and interior product manufacturer Haworth also sought to expand its corporate headquarters. The company asked Perkins + Will to design an efficient environment that would facilitate interaction among staff and with clients and provide a dynamic showcase for Haworth's products while retaining as much of the existing headquarters building as possible.
The resulting LEED Gold-certified design for One Haworth Center combines 250,000 square feet (23,000 square meters) of the existing building — stripped down to the structural frame and renovated — with an L-shaped 50,000-square-foot (4,600-square-meter) addition that traces the building's long north facade and projects northward from its western end, sloping down to meet the landscape.
Inside the triple-glazed curtain wall that defines the inside of the L, a new atrium visually connects the building's three floors and provides daylight access to 90 percent of employees. Each floor combines open office space with permanent rooms and rooms defined by movable partitions — a spatial concept developed with Eva Maddox Working Environments.
Located adjacent to Haworth's assembly plant, the headquarters building integrates a variety of the company's own products, including the Tec-Create floor system, which was installed over the existing structure to provide underfloor air distribution, which is more energy-efficient than overhead systems and also facilitates spatial rearrangements.
The Haworth Compose Panels Workstation system — which is GreenGuard-certified as low-emitting, and is made of 45 percent recycled content — includes a range of panel heights and options for glass panels, both of which facilitate daylighting.
Other sustainable design features include Viracon glass with a U-factor of 0.21 (low heat transfer) for the atrium wall, energy-efficient fluorescent and LED task lights, and a prominent 45,000-square-foot (4,200-square-meter) green roof of sedum.
Warehouse Turned School Building
In the Archer Heights neighborhood of Chicago, architect UrbanWorks undertook a process similar to what Perkins + Will did for Haworth: gutting and expanding an existing building to create a new, sustainably designed facility within.
In this case, the existing building was an abandoned urban warehouse, and the new occupants were three charter schools.
Owned by the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), which seeks to foster community vitality and self-empowerment in Hispanic neighborhoods, the UNO Veterans Memorial School Building stacks two K-8 elementary schools and one high school on successive floors of the former warehouse, creating capacity for 1,800 students total. The low-income, minority student body includes hundreds of children with limited English proficiency.
While retaining over 80 percent of the building's structure and celebrating the industrial character of the brick-and-concrete building, the design team also wanted to introduce more light and transparency. Similar in purpose to the glazed addition at One Haworth Center, a sweeping new volume now rises from the top of the UNO school building, climbing to meet a four-story curtain wall at its south end.
This daylit addition accommodates a gym on the third floor. Other strategically located glass elements, such as conical skylights, help transmit daylight throughout the facility.
Other green features include an automated building control system, low-e glass, a solar thermal system that supplies hot water for the building, a green roof, proximity to public transportation, 88 bike racks, and permeable paving. The building is currently under review for LEED certification, targeting a Gold rating.
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