This white paper details the process Collective Office employs during the design and construction of our residential projects, looking at several of our residential projects from interior renovations to new homes. Lake Geneva House, West Loop Loft, and Soldier Field House are used as illustrative references throughout.

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Life unfolds effortlessly when people are at the center of the process.

01    Project Discovery

Great projects start with great listening. Before designing anything we start with taking the time to understand the site conditions and our client’s needs. We then begin to gather detailed information on how the client will use the space and how the building needs to perform in order to meet the client’s needs. All of this data is collected and a set of design criteria and goals are developed for the project. Only after we have a thorough understanding of the unique site conditions and project parameters can we begin to design.

02    Research & Programming

In the Research & Programming phase, we begin to assign physical dimensions to the programmatic elements of the project and establish the relationships between them. Simultaneously, we research the jurisdictional constraints on the project. These constraints will define how much can be built and in what fashion they can be constructed. By understanding these parameters, we can determine early on if the site can deliver what the client needs it to. The client is also assigned their own research on the project where inspirational precedent images are gathered and annotated. These images are the basis of establishing an initial direction for the project and provide a clear picture of how the client envisions the space will look and feel.

We try to really dive into how people will be using the space and how they'll inhabit the space, how they'll want to live there, so it's all very, very user centric.”

Tyler Moench, Project Architect at Collective Office

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Collective is in our name for a reason.

03    Schematic Design

In schematic design, the broad strokes of the building are laid out and the building itself starts to take shape. The massing of a building, the way people flow through the space, and general layout are all fleshed out. Clients are asked to provide us with a precedent deck to inform our process based on the unique interests of the project. Clients are also encouraged to markup the documents we send to maintain a constant feedback loop. Loose design options are generated and cross checked with the criteria we have developed with the client’s needs. At this stage, critical thinking at a high level allows us to produce iterations for the client to choose from. From this exploration, a general spatial concept or diagram of the project is created.

Not only did they welcome involvement, but they encouraged it. I think they knew it meant our shared success.”

Client Feedback

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Elevating the experience of everyday.

04    Design Development

As the general layout of the space becomes solidified, we start to bring the rest of the project into clearer view. The materials, product specifications, and specific elements of the design come to the forefront and these elements are dialed in. We use digital 3D modeling as a tool to allow clients to better understand the proposed spaces and give us an environment to better test ideas throughout the process.

Practicalities of the design are also considered in finer detail. Will noise travel throughout the house when guests are over? Is the kitchen layed out efficiently for nightly dinner? Will there be enough storage? We work in a constant feedback loop with the client to tailor every inch of space while all the design elements are refined.

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05     Construction Documentation

Construction Documents are what make each project real and we infuse a lot of effort and detail to ensure that everything is thoroughly documented. A set of construction documents is the guide for your contractor to assemble the design vision; a rigorous and detailed set of drawings makes that design vision clear to all parties and ensures a quality end product. The scope of this work encompasses many different scales from the building superstructure, to the construction and layout of all the walls, to placing individual tiles, all the way down to how two materials meet to create the perfect shadow line detail.

This level of design rigor not only ensures the project ends up as intended but also limits problems in construction by accounting for problems before they arise. When complete, these documents are sent to the city to be reviewed and once they are approved for permit the construction process can start.

The focus on details is really amazing. For them to be thinking about those things—just to see them all in there was really cool.”

Client Feedback

There is power in partnership.

06     Contract Administration

After we pass the torch onto the general contractor, we prefer to maintain close contact with the project through to its completion. We complete requests for information and act as another set of eyes to ensure the project is moving in the right direction. We prefer to attend regular site meetings between owner, architect, and contractor that are useful tools to see the development of a project and tackle any questions that arise. This is an exciting stage as the collaborative vision of the team materializes and the client can further envision themselves in the finished space. We look for any inconsistencies, ensure everything is finished at a high standard, and inform the owner of any potential pitfalls to avoid.

West Loop Construction
Bell Construction
Marquette Construction
Maclean Construction
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07     Post Occupancy

After the dust settles and space is finally occupied we all get to reap the rewards of our collective efforts. We continue to be an advocate and a resource for our clients long after they occupy their new spaces. We are there to assist in any issues that come up or make updates as requested based on their real world use of these spaces. Buildings and businesses both continually evolve over time and we can be there to support changing conditions.

You know the outside is the most important art. So when you look through a window, that's what I see. I had some really great pieces of art but it's really the outside and the nature. That's why you're here.”

Client Feedback

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Residential Map US
Residential Map Chicago

We have completed over 60 projects in Chicago alone, with more projects extending into Michigan and Wisconsin.

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