First Lady HQ

Chicago, IL / 2018–2019

A multi-generational family company famous for its architectural river tours, Chicago’s First Lady relocated its corporate headquarters from the suburbs into the Chicago Loop. Their new home overlooks both the Chicago River and the company’s own fleet of boats. We have created a modern office space that prioritizes exterior views while creating an interior space that infuses key aspects of its brand and history as a family business into the architecture.

In addition to open area for work stations that allow ample space for expansion and enclosure private offices, alternate working locations have been carefully crafted to facilitate collaboration, privacy, or simply a change in scenery. An informal meeting “nook” provides space for meetings that do not require the use of one of the two conference rooms. The cafe has a kitchen island with a waterfall edge as well as a family style table that are used for collaborating outside of the lunch hour. The primary conference room features a folding glass partition that allows the space to merge seamlessly with the entrance in order to facilitate seasonal workers for trainings and company parties.

A 250 foot long wall graphic winds through the space, showing scenes from the architectural river tour in the exact sequence in which they appear. Its muted blue colors serve as the backdrop to other carefully crafted elements: custom mahogany planting beds, a custom-designed reception desk, and curved glass corners that soften the edges near the conference rooms. The material palette references nautical construction materials in an abstracted way. The sawtooth office fronts reference waves on the river and layered vegetation with green-accented office furniture draws comparison to the water’s edge.

The result is a contemporary work environment that is exciting without being overpowering. Through the use of materials, graphics, and view, Chicago’s First Lady has a space infused with their own identity that they will be able to expand into and enjoy.