Portland Mixed-Use Project

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The sustained growth of Portland’s population is a mixed blessing. While the city’s compact nature, combined with strict control over expansion, give it much of its charm, there remains a need for more housing. Unfortunately, much of this new density comes from large, monolithic slab-like buildings that don’t contribute to the appeal of their surroundings.

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This project is designed to animate the new density. These types of buildings are usually on the city’s east side, on busy arterial streets like Division, Hawthorne and Alberta. The ground floor is occupied by retail – stores, restaurants and services. The upper floors are apartments, either rental or condominium.

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The surrounding neighborhood is typically retail, small industrial and apartments on the main street, with single family houses beyond. There’s usually a mix of older buildings with more recent development, and often there are large clashes of scale.

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In this project, I’ve attempted to break down the scale of the building by articulating the units on the face of the building. While there’s an underlying order to the scheme, it’s casually developed, allowing a feeling of individuality to come through.

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This has a direct impact on the quality of the units. They’re all somewhat different, to the point that a resident could stand on the street and easily point out where they live.

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The units range from studios and one bedrooms to two bedrooms with a den. Some have outdoor terraces and floor to ceiling glass, while others are more cozy. This allows the building to embrace a variety of tenants.

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The modulation of the building’s face also helps it relate to its neighbors. Its articulated volumes reflect the varied forms of the houses nearby, and avoid the image of a bluff cliff.

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Within the units,  the articulated volumes create dynamic spaces. In the two bedroom unit pictured above, the open living area maintains a strong feeling of defined space for the living and dining areas. The outdoor terrace extends the living space outside, and into the neighborhood.

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Befitting the top floor corner location of this one bedroom unit, the living space is wrapped with view and light. The generous terrace is ideal for people who want to live outside, even if it’s raining.

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This building’s composition reflects the diversity of Portland itself. As laid out, this building has 24 units – 12 studios, 6 one bedrooms and 6 two bedrooms with dens. There are twelve off-street covered parking places. The generous ground floor retail space offers multiple possibilities of subdivision and unit size.

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I designed this project, and created all the drawings and renderings in this post.

Church to Home Renovation

These renderings were created to help visualize how an existing, 100 year old church can be transformed into a desirable home. Located in McMinnville, Oregon, the former Christian Science church is perfectly located in a prime residential area, within a couple of blocks of the thriving downtown.

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The proposed home’s main living space is to be in the former sanctuary of the church. While the space is quite modest by church standards, with its  seventeen foot ceiling, it is very grand for a residence.

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The neoclassical design of the original structure is enhanced with placement of new kitchen elements, and existing, arched openings are subtly altered to facilitate their new uses.

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This focus on the kitchen sink, with a new fireplace beyond, give the potential homeowner a good feel for the kind of living this home inspires.

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Light from the grand arched windows animates the formal arrangement of space.

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I developed this design in collaboration with the property owner, who appreciated my ability to translate his thoughts about how this little neoclassical temple could make a great home. I created all the renderings in this post.

2 East Erie

Sometimes it helps to have a good relationship with your neighbors! Graham, Anderson, Probst & White had been doing various architectural projects for the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters (aka Carpenters Union) for years. Given that the Carpenters’ headquarters were across the street from GAPW’s office, it’s not surprising. When the Carpenter’s Union decided to replace their existing, four-story building with a new mixed-use development, they insisted on GAPW as their architect.

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Located just two blocks from Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue, the Carpenters Union’s property was prime for residential, retail and office development. Partnering with The John Buck Company, the Carpenter’s Union sought to improve their headquarters while capitalizing on their land’s value.

The resulting 40-story, mixed-use tower became know as 2 East Erie. With one of Chicago’s premier late-night bar & grills as its sole retail tenant, the rest of the base was composed of lobbies for the office and residential occupancies, as well as a meeting hall for the Carpenters Union.

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The base of the building was clad in warm brick and stone, seen here at the residential lobby entrance. A laminated glass canopy provides shelter while minimizing shadows.

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Inside the residential lobby, the exterior’s theme of tonal framework is expressed in rich oak panels.

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In the apartments, it’s all about corners. Floor to ceiling glass and column free corners combine to make apartments feel light and spacious. Unlike most apartment buildings, the compact layout of 2 East Erie allowed us to place the living areas on the corners. Even inboard units have projecting glass bays, giving the living space multi-directional views.

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This elevation drawing makes clear the building’s complex development. The base, composed in two parts, reflects the scale of adjacent neighborhood buildings. This articulation of scale masks the six-level parking garage and its sloping floors within. The next five floors of the tower house the Carpenter’s Union headquarters, and the remaining floors are dedicated to residential. The penthouse has apartment amenities, including a roof deck, workout room and party room.

My work on this project was done while I was an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. I performed design, development and documentation, including full three-dimensional study of the tower’s interior and exterior. I also did all the residential floor plan layout, including unit mix studies and accessibility conformance.

Photographs in this post were created by Mark Ballogg of Steinkamp Ballogg Photography. I made the rendered drawings.

 

Millennium Park Plaza

The goal of this project was to revitalize the base of a mixed-use tower in the heart of Chicago. Originally built in the 1970’s, the tower base’s mix of sub-grade retail, office and residential lobbies and under-utilized outdoor plaza space were crying out for help. Our design sought to simplify the many floor levels of the existing retail space, with the goal of creating larger, more leasable spaces that opened directly to street level. Lobbies were enlarged and upgraded, and the exterior was given a fresh new image.

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The residential lobby was transformed into a glassy, light-filled hall. Rich, warm materials greet the residents as they return home, raising the profile of the building to match its premium, downtown location.

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The retail portion of the building faces Michigan Avenue. It combines large retails spaces, which have direct access to the street, with a mall. The mall acts as a hub, connecting small retail, office and residential lobbies and a new entrance to a nearby train station.

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As can be imagined, connecting all these spaces was quite complex. Working with existing conditions further challenged the design team to ensure that every bit of structure, ductwork and piping was accounted for.

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One of the greatest challenges was accounting for emergency exits, both existing exits of the office and residential portions of the tower above, and new exits required by the enlarged retail spaces.

This work was performed while I was employed at Solomon Cordwell Buenz. On this project, I performed the role of project architect; coordinating site exploration, engineering consultants and SCB’s design team to ensure that all the project’s features were safe and feasible, while maximizing space and minimizing construction cost.

The renderings featured in this post were created by SCB.

 

 

 

Rialto Theater Condominiums

The Rialto Theater is the heart of downtown Joliet, Illinois. While the focus is on the historic theater, this whole block development includes retail, offices, and apartments. The 1926 project’s architects were Rapp & Rapp, who often designed mixed-use theater complexes.

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The theater was given an extensive restoration in the 1980s, but the rest of the complex remained in original, deteriorating condition. The residential portion was abandoned, and found to be in an advanced state of decay when Graham, Anderson, Probst & White was retained.

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After thorough investigation, it was determined that the residential building was structurally beyond saving, so the client requested that we study replacing it.

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Our project combined ground floor retail with seven floors of condominiums. One special requirement was that our building had to accommodate a theater exit that was part of the original residential building. The textured precast concrete panels of the new building recall the molded terracotta panels of the original complex.

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I laid out the condominium units to be as flexible as possible. As there was very little residential development in downtown Joliet, it was not clear what the market for this building would be. By carefully arranging kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces, the floor could be maximized for smaller units (plan above) or larger units (plan below).

I designed this project while an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. I created all the photos, renderings and plan drawings in this post.

1 East Wacker Building Standards

1 East Wacker, located on the north edge of Chicago’s Loop, opened in 1962. It was built by an insurance company, the same company, after several name changes, that owns it today. With 4″ thick white marble cladding and stainless steel window frames, 1 East Wacker is a high quality building that has stood the test of time.

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The style spans generations – while the clean simple lines of the exterior belong to sixties modernism, they’re rooted in Streamline Moderne, an earlier form of modernism closely associated with Art Deco.

As clean and simple as the exterior was, inside it was showing its age. Like most office towers that have been leasing space for decades, 1 East Wacker’s interior had a mishmash of public spaces, the result of tenant buildouts and multiple remodeling campaigns. Graham, Anderson, Probst and White was retained over a period of three years to carry out several projects aimed at unifying the public space while upgrading the rentability of the building. I led all the projects, which improved lobbies, security, toilet facilities and corridors.

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The elevator lobby and connecting public corridors on each floor were given new finishes that built on existing elements like the black elevator entry trim, while introducing fresh new carpet and wallcovering. New lighting wall sconces were used to relate to the main floor lobby, and a simple coved ceiling tied the space together.

Public toilets are often neglected in office buildings. This building had a variety of toilet room finishes, including some that were original to the 1962 construction. The toilet rooms were given a substantial upgrade with materials that relate to the lobby finishes.

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Moving away from the traditional mosaic tile typically used in public restrooms, I specified much larger porcelain tile for the floors and plumbing walls. This achieved a number of important things – it gave the building a more modern image, enhanced cleanability, and enriched the image while controlling costs.

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Black granite, the same as that used for the building base and the elevator lobby borders, was used for the sink counter.  Towel dispensers and waste disposal were recessed into the counter to minimize clutter and water drips on the floor.

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The toilet stall area had major upgrades. The stall dividers, originally painted and often rusty, were replaced with stainless steel. Not only do the stainless partitions relate to the building’s stainless window frames, they also expand the sense of space in this somewhat confined area. Without paint, durability is enhanced, as well as cleanability. Wall sconces were also added to supplement the previous all-downlight lighting.

These upgrades have been well received by the tenants, both existing and prospective. By addressing such seemingly mundane areas as lobbies, corridors and restrooms, the owner has demonstrated their commitment to their tenant’s pride and well being. It has also reinforced the long term viability of the building they created and care for.

I performed all design, development, documentation, material and color selection and construction administration of the above projects while an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. All photos, drawings and renderings in this post are created by me.

Unitrin Insurance Headquarters

I designed a full floor of offices for the executive and legal departments of Unitrin Insurance. This was located in the Unitrin Building, a 40-story tower located at the intersection of Chicago’s State Street and the Chicago River. Unitrin built this building in 1960, and have proudly occupied it ever since. Elements of this office buildout recall the building’s exterior to honor the company’s history and stability, but also to give the customers and executives who visit this floor a little reminder of where they are.

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Upon arriving in the floor’s elevator lobby, the visitor’s eye is immediately drawn to the glowing wall at the end of the reception lobby. This glazed wall is free-standing, and combines artificial light with daylight.

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The reception desk, to the right of the entrance, features raised mahogany millwork, with a Cherokee white marble transaction counter, the same stone as used for the exterior of the building.

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Looking across the reception desk, the relationship of the glass sign wall with the windows can be seen. There’s another window behind the glass wall.

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The reception area had many design alternatives. We started with a simple, streamlined modern approach. This was seen by Unitrin’s project management team as in keeping with the building’s streamlined, minimalist aesthetic. I provided rendered three-dimensional views to facilitate speed and comprehension of the space.

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More detail was tried, but the top executives still weren’t falling in love with their space. I suspected that a more traditional approach would be appreciated, so I prepared three distinct treatments for millwork, and had the alternates priced by a couple of local millwork fabricators.

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Scheme C was full-on traditional, and given the amount of wood and detail, it was no surprise that it was the most expensive. But it was the scheme that the executives loved, so we proceeded with it.

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Traditional millwork was used throughout the floor, including the boardroom kitchen (above). The black granite counters match the black granite at the base of the building.

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Three dimensional renderings were used throughout the project to study form and materials. In yet another homage to the building’s exterior image, the existing painted metal elevator doors and frames were clad in stainless steel. The doors were etched with vertical bands in the same number and proportion as the exterior elevation of the executives’ beloved tower.

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This work was completed while I was an employee at Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. I provided complete project design, development and construction management services.

All drawings, renderings and photographs in this post were created by me.

Santa Clara Hall

Santa Clara Hall is a student residence located on the lakefront campus of Loyola University in Chicago. I led a gut-rehab of this structure, transforming a 1920’s apartment building into a state of the art residence hall.

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The building was originally constructed as studio and one-bedroom apartments. Its  location is unique – it is directly on Lake Michigan, with Loyola to the south and a beach to the north. However desirable this may seem, the building was in run-down condition and did not conform to today’s standards for student residences.  Everything inside the building, aside from the structure, was removed. New two-bedroom units were planned, and new elevator and egress stairs were threaded through the existing structure.

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While the units are minimally sized, they provide ADA accessible kitchens and bathrooms, and flexible shared living spaces. One of the big challenges of fitting this tight layout into the 1920’s shell is that the structure was very irregular, and varied from floor to floor. Fortunately, Loyola hired a great general contractor with whom I worked closely to adapt the layouts, especially in the bathrooms, as the existing conditions emerged through demolition.

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The ground floor presented another challenge. In the original structure, it was treated as a service floor that had low ceilings. Loyola wanted to use this floor as public space for the residence, with lobby, lounge, conference and laundry room functions.

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The ceiling height was maintained by carefully coordinating the existing structure with new mechanical, electrical and fire protection elements during design and in construction.

Santa Clara Hall opened on time and on budget, and has since become very popular with the students.

This project was completed while I was an employee at Solomon Cordwell Buenz. I managed design development and construction documents, and performed construction administration services.

Bill Zbaren created the interior photographs, and I made the exterior picture. The rendered floor plan was made by Solomon Cordwell Buenz.

Office for an Investment Company

This workspace is located on the top three floors of a Chicago office tower. All three floors are linked with a three story atrium, a unique feature with a powerful impact on the office.

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As originally constructed, the atrium was designed to have an open stair connecting the floors. But this stair was never built. My clients wanted a stair to enhance the communication of its employees, and it became a major element of this buildout.

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The atrium as found had wide open balconies on all three levels. While my client loved the openness, they needed the space for program areas. I designed a wall system, based on aluminum framed storefront parts, that provided glass and wood veneer panels as suggested by view and privacy requirements.

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The new atrium stair was located adjacent to new conference rooms that were fully glazed to facilitate communication among company members. It’s become a great place to bump into people – a true communicating stair. Glass stair risers were specified to maintain the stair’s transparency.

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The investment company has offices in both the US and the UK. When laying out the work spaces, there was a clash of culture: Americans value privacy, and the Brits need openness and collaboration. In the end, the plan compromises with four-person pods that may be open or enclosed based on the needs of the department.

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This company has a strong appreciation of wood and custom craftsmanship. The reception desk was made veneered in a highly figured maple, with solid planks of the same material at the transaction counter. I also designed custom conference tables of this wood for all the conference rooms.

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In addition to the custom furniture, I also designed custom lighting for the circulation areas. These fixtures consisted of a laminated glass plane suspended 3″ below the ceiling to create a luminous plane.

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This project was completed while I was an employee at Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, Corp. I was the project designer and manager, and performed complete project services, including site, contractor, and bid evaluation; programming; schematic design; design development; construction documents and construction administration.

Mark Ballogg create all of the photographs with the exception of the light fixture above, which is a photograph by me.