Our client, Chicago’s First Lady, a multi-generational family company famous for its architectural river tours, 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.

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Wall graphic throughout the space showing scenes of their river tour.

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Sawtooth offices reference waves on the river with the wall graphic reinforcing the views on the tour.

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To infuse the space with the rich history of the Chicago's First Lady brand, 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. This connects the spaces throughout the project while keeping it subtle yet intriguing, enhancing the office environment. Its muted blue colors serve as the backdrop to other carefully crafted elements such as custom mahogany planting beds, a custom-designed reception desk, and curved glass corners that soften the edges near the conference rooms. The subtle material palette references nautical construction materials in an abstracted way that lends itself to a modern experience. The sawtooth office fronts reference waves on the river and layered vegetation with green-accented office furniture draws comparison to the water’s edge.

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Flexibility in work styles was important for this growing company. We provided open area workstations that allow ample space for expansion along with enclosures for private offices. In addition to these open areas, alternate working locations have been carefully crafted to facilitate collaboration, privacy, or simply a change in scenery. We have integrated an informal meeting nook for meetings that do not require the use of one of the two conference rooms. The cafe kitchen island as well as a family style table are used for collaborating during and 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 or company parties.

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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.