project: Confidential Financial Client
location: Chicago, IL
architect: IA Architects
lighting rep: PG Enlighten
photographer: Tom Harris

The design of Confidential Financial Client’s new offices in Chicago exemplifies the evolution of the look and feel of its corporate workspaces to a more dynamic and inclusive environment. This new space is part of a strategy to bring teams together to collaborate and best service clients, as well as reflect the client’s history in Chicago while looking towards its future. Urban, modern, and timelessly elegant, with unexpected signature moments that inform and inspire, defines the new workspace.

Art-deco-style tiles and other design elements reference its previous Lasalle Street Historic District location. Chicago’s iconic bridges inspire custom carved acoustic wall panels and wallcovering designs. At every elevator lobby a custom trellis, based on a series of bridge trusses, becomes a layer of geometrical-inspired perforated ceiling panels that create a lively play of shadow and pattern. Overall, the design balances raw materials (exposed ceilings, black metal, stone) with warm wood tones, textured upholsteries, and a sophisticated neutral palette with pops of energetic color and pattern.

An experiential design narrative vertically ascends through the tower and traces the runners’ path through the neighborhoods, expressed as an abstract map of each neighborhood at the communal pantry on each floor. Near collaboration areas, an IA-designed mosaic wall installation subtly highlights neighborhood details via custom illustrations using color, texture, and words.

A series of client-facing meeting rooms along the southwest corridor, flooded with natural light and overlooking the Chicago River, complements a series of internal training rooms, with retractable walls, along the southeast corridor. From the stunning two-story reception, a connecting stair leads to extended conferencing and a client entertainment zone on the fifth floor. Abstractly referencing the Client‘s logo, a two-story trellis ribbon wraps the entire reception area. Starting as metal insets in the stone floor it becomes a vertical trellis of clear and bronze-colored glass that folds horizontally into a series of suspended acoustic ceiling panels with integrated lighting.

Across from the fourth-floor reception, clients and associates can meet, work, or relax with a cup of coffee at a barista lounge aptly named FUEL. There, a large-scale tonal image depicts marathon runners kicking off the 26.2 mile journey. Overlooking the Chicago River and connecting bridges, an adjacent market café with a generous terrace displays a collage of marathon photographs featuring a textured graphic of stylized bibs, which recalls the mix of participants who join together for the event. A nearby sculpture of crushed cups is an IA design cast in bronze that alludes to the need to stay hydrated for peak performance, as well as to the many volunteers who support the event and the sustainability story (cups are collected after the race and composted for neighborhood community gardens).

Striking a balance between consistency and customization, floor plates support specialized team structures and a variety of space types for agile working, but will accommodate smart space changes in the future and efficient moves.