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.

 

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.