Designers & Architects Talk March Preview: Interior Adaptations Across Chicago

The 2020 season of the Designers & Architects Talk Series, presented by IIDA and AIA Chicago, is underway with an exciting lineup. On March 10, IIDA Headquarters will host Repositioned and Reimagined, a discussion on three of the most newsworthy and timely interior transformations in Chicago: Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and Old Post Office. 

All three interior adaptations were cited in the January Chicago Tribune article, “From tech company expansions to the opening of Chicago’s third tallest skyscraper, here’s what to watch for in real estate this year.”

Zurich Esposito, Hon. AIA, executive vice president of AIA Chicago, will moderate. The talk features Lee Golub, managing principal of Golub & Company and developer of the repositioned Tribune Tower as well as the proposed new, adjacent tower; Meg Prendergast, IIDA, principal at The Gettys Group, who is overseeing the interiors of the reimagined Tribune Tower; Todd Heiser, IIDA, principal at Gensler and designer of the Willis Tower public lobby repositioning as well portions of the Old Post Office adaptive reuse; and Sheryl Schulze, principal at Gensler who has been managing the Old Post Office renovation. Schulze and her Gensler colleagues overseeing the Old Post Office project were recently named Chicagoans of the Year 2019 by the Chicago Tribune in the architecture category.

Currently the largest example of adaptive reuse in the country, the repositioning of the Old Chicago Main Post Office has given the nine-story Art Deco building a second life. Once serving as the main post office for the Midwest region, the structure welcomed new tenants beginning last fall, including major local company headquarters like Walgreens and Ferrara Candy Company. More workplace tenants, including Uber and PepsiCo, will occupy the building in the coming months.

For the reimagining of Willis Tower’s public spaces, Heiser and his team had a heady task: designing an enhanced experience for both the thousands of office workers who visit the building each day, as well as tourists and the general public. The ambitious renovation reimagines the first five floors of the skyscraper, creating a mixed-use space called “Catalog.”

One of the most iconic buildings in Chicago, the Tribune Tower (below)—a result of a notable architectural design competition nearly a century ago—had been home to the venerable newspaper until it recently moved a few blocks away. The

structure is just one of a few former newspaper headquarters nationwide currently being converted to residential and multi-use spaces. No two floorplates will be alike within Tribune Tower, where 162 luxury condominiums are planned for completion later this year. Heiser, summarizing the projects

included in this discussion, notes, “All three projects are about city building; all are important to the fabric of Chicago.”

Repositioned and Reimagined: Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and Old Post Office

Advance tickets are required. Visit designerstalk.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets and to see full schedule details for this event and the full series. Discounts are available for IIDA and AIA members, and a limited number of free student seats will be made available for each session. A series ticket is available for a seat at the remaining three sessions.

For each talk, attendees will be able to obtain either 1 AIA-approved LU or 1 IDCEC-approved CEU. 

Tuesday, March 10
Reception: 5:30 p.m.
Discussion: 6:15 p.m.

IIDA Headquarters
111 E. Wacker Drive

Admission*
Price per session: $10 member, $20 nonmember

Series of three remaining sessions (March 10, April 14, May 5): $25 member, $50 nonmember

A special thanks to our 2020 Designers & Architects Talk sponsors:

Host Sponsor:
Corporate Concepts / Knoll

Champion Sponsors:
Andreu World, Bernhardt Design, BIFMA, Caesarstone, Cosentino, Hunter Douglas Architectural, J+J Flooring Group, Maya Romanoff, Mohawk Group, Mortarr, OFS, Patcraft, Shaw Contract, and Tarkett.

Looking Forward to the 2020 Designers & Architects Talk Series

Here at IIDA Headquarters, we are thrilled to partner with AIA Chicago for the second consecutive year to co-present the Designers & Architects Talk series. This year, we offer four provocative Tuesday evening discussions that will address commercial interior architecture and design. Both architects and commercial interior designers will want to attend to learn from the speakers as well as to mix and mingle with the Chicago design community.

All sessions will take place at IIDA Headquarters. To learn more, please visit iida.org

February 11
Lauren Rottet in Conversation with Cheryl S. Durst

The series kicks off on Tuesday, February 11 with acclaimed architect and designer Lauren Rottet, FIIDA, FAIA, president and founding principal of Rottet Studio, discussing her work and career with IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA. Based in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York, Rottet has designed notable workplaces and beautiful hospitality interiors globally, including The Langham, Chicago. The first woman to be named a fellow of both AIA and IIDA, she has overseen Rottet Studio since 2008 after years of experience with firms including SOM.

March 10
Repositioned and Reimagined: Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and Old Post Office

The second discussion will focus on three newsworthy Chicago projects, all of which are repositioning and reimagining prominent existing buildings: Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and Old Post Office. Zurich Esposito, Hon. AIA, executive vice president of AIA Chicago, will moderate. The talk features Lee Golub, principal and executive vice president of Golub and Company and developer of the repositioned Tribune Tower as well as the proposed new, adjacent tower; Meg Prendergast, IIDA, principal at The Gettys Group, who is overseeing the interiors of the reimagined Tribune Tower; Todd Heiser, IIDA, principal at Gensler and designer of the interiors of the Willis Tower public lobby repositioning as well the Old Post Office adaptive reuse; and Sheryl Schulze, principal at Gensler who has been managing the Old Post Office renovation. Schulze and her Gensler colleagues that are overseeing the Old Post Office project were recently named Chicagoans of the Year 2019 by the Chicago Tribune in the architecture category.

April 14
New Design Firms Changing the Face of Chicago

For the April 14 talk, I personally look forward to moderating four Chicagoans who have recently started design firms. Why and how did each decide to start their practice? How did they attain their initial clients? What lessons can they share? The panelists will be Ross Barney, AIA, founder of Tumu Studio; Nina Grondin, partner and founder of Curioso; Julie Purpura, owner and creative director of Avenir Creative; and Chris Sommers, IIDA, partner at Harken Interiors.

May 5
Fulton Market: an Evolving City

The 2020 series will conclude in May with a conversation about the rapidly evolving Fulton Market neighborhood. Chicago-based architect Peter Exley, FAIA, co-founder of Architecture is Fun and 2021 AIA national president, will moderate the discussion with Kyle Kamin, executive vice president of CBRE who is orchestrating many Fulton Market tenant real estate transactions; Rick Kintigh, AIA, architect at Sterling Bay, which is the developer of a number of Fulton Market new buildings; Aracely Nevarz, AIA, partner at Hartshorn Plunkard Architecture and designer of many buildings and interiors in the neighborhood, including Soho House; and Sarah Oppenhuizen, IIDA, AIA, director of interiors at HOK who is managing the design of the new, massive 263,000-square-foot workplace for ad agency WPP.

eventbrite-01

Advance tickets are required for all talks. Visit designerstalk.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets and to see for full schedule details. Discounts are available for IIDA and AIA members, and a limited number of free student seats will be made available for each session. A series ticket is available for a seat at all four sessions.

For each talk, attendees will be able to obtain either 1 AIA-approved LU or 1 IDCEC-approved CEU.

A special thanks to our 2020 Designers & Architects Talk sponsors:

Host Sponsor:
Corporate Concepts / Knoll

Champion Sponsors:
Andreu World, Bernhardt Design, BIFMA, Caesarstone, Cosentino, J+J Flooring Group, Maya Romanoff, Mohawk Group, Mortarr, OFS, Patcraft, Shaw Contract, and Tarkett.

Featured image:

The Confluence of Workplace and Hospitality Design: an IIDA Panel Discussion at Room & Board

As we near the end of the decade, we look back and understand that the confluence of hospitality and workplace has been the most significant movement in commercial interior design—a decade defined by the breakdown of barriers of design typologies in commercial interiors. And this convergence will likely continue and become more pronounced in the coming years. That was the premise to begin a November panel discussion that I moderated, hosted by Room & Board at its New York showroom.

More than 125 design professionals attended the lively event, with panelists Tim Duffy, Ind. IIDA, national key accounts manager for Room & Board; Annie Lee, IIDA, principal at ENV, and current IIDA New York Chapter president; Krista Ninivaggi, IIDA, founder of K+Co; and Barry Richards, IIDA, principal at Rockwell Group.

Wong Photography

From left to right: Panelists Tim Duffy, Krista Ninivaggi, Annie Lee, John Czarnecki, and Barry Richards. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography

The panelists explored the influence of hospitality design in creating welcoming workplace interiors, whether for established clients or co-working spaces—a work setting that, in many ways, supplies an “amenity base” for employees. With a client’s brand expressed in the interior, workplaces are designed for community and face-to-face interactions as well as productivity and employee wellness. This evolution has changed how designers specify contract furniture, with ancillary furnishings now representing the majority of furniture for a workplace interior.

“In the past, workstations and office desks were considered the main portion of the furniture order defining the overall office mood and character,” Lee said. “More and more, specialized social hubs for eating, meeting, and brainstorming have become the cultural focus, similar to what is found in hotels and restaurants. What was once called ancillary spaces are just as important, if not the main feature.”

“This influence of hospitality is infiltrating the workplace and challenging the notion of how we work,” Ninivaggi says. “Can we improve our relationship with ‘work’ by orchestrating the day-to-day through the built environment?”

More than 125 design professionals filled the Room & Board New York showroom for the event. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography

With a labor market that is still highly competitive, the design of the workplace matters to attract and retain employees—just one important element for building employee loyalty. And somewhat similarly, in hospitality design, a savvy interior that responds to today’s needs helps to build guest loyalty. As technology and travel enable work to be anywhere at any time, the panelists discussed how the design of hospitality interiors is allowing for collaboration and casual productivity within hotels.

“With the help of improved mobility in technology, the workplace can be anywhere,” Ninivaggi said. “Now, the lobbies of hip hotels shift the paradigm from ‘out-of-office social places,’ to the new yet familiar feel of informal ‘collab rooms.’ The business hotel as we knew it is gone, and it has been replaced by the warmly entertaining hotel.”

How is this change influencing furniture specifications for hotels? “Tables are the new sofas. We cannot put enough tables in our projects across the board,” Ninivaggi said. “People tote their technology everywhere and can easily be immersed in their occupations so long as they find a well-placed seat and table to perch.”

Featured image: Speakers listen as Annie Lee, IIDA, describes the influence of hospitality on her workplace projects. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography 

IIDA Headquarters to Host Designers and Architects Talk

I am excited to welcome the design and architecture community of Chicago to the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) headquarters this spring for a superb series of talks.

IIDA, together with AIA Chicago in a first-ever collaboration, will present a series of Wednesday evening talks called “Designers and Architects Talk: A Series About Design and its Impact on Client Success,” that will address commercial interior architecture and design. Both architects and commercial interior designers will learn from the provocative discussions about projects, firm leadership, and design strategy.

March 20 – McDonald’s Headquarters: Impact on a Company, a City, and a Neighborhood

Speakers are Tish Kruse, principal, IA Interior Architects; Primo Orpilla, FIIDA, principal, Studio O+A; Scott Phillips, director of workplace management, McDonald’s; Neil Schneider, Assoc. IIDA, principal IA Interior Architects; and Grant Uhlir, FAIA, co-regional managing principal, Gensler. I will be moderating.

April 17 – New, Bold, and Entrepreneurial: Design Firms Changing the Face of Chicago

Speakers are Jason Hall, principal, Charlie Greene Studio; Ami Kahalekulu, partner, Twofold Studio; Sarah Kuchar, IIDA, creative director, Sarah Kuchar Studio; and Deon Lucas, AIA, NOMA, director, Beehyyve, E.G. Woode. The moderator is Chicago-based architect and AIA national board member Peter Exley, FAIA.

May 22 – Women Leading Hospitality Design in Chicago

Karen Herold, principal, Studio K; Jackie Koo, AIA, IIDA, principal, KOO; Laurie Miller, AIA, principal, Anderson/Miller; Meg Prendergast, principal, Gettys Group; and Patricia Rotondo, Assoc. AIA, IIDA, senior principal, Antunovich Associates. IIDA EVP/CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, will be the moderator.

Ticket sales have begun for all sessions, and advance purchase is necessary to reserve a seat. Members of IIDA or AIA have a special ticket price of $10/session or $25 for a seat to all three sessions. The public is welcome at $20 per session. Student members of IIDA, AIAS, or AIA Chicago are free.

Sessions allow for 1 IDCEC-approved CEU for interior designers and 1 AIA-approved LU for architects.

Order your tickets now.

Thank you to Host Sponsor Corporate Concepts, Inc., and Champion Sponsors: Bernhardt Design, Mohawk Group, Mortarr, Patcraft, Shaw Contract, Steelcase, Tarkett, and Wilkhahn.

Orgatec Highlights the Flexible, Adaptable Nature of Today’s Office

With the fall season of trade shows and industry events well underway, I was pleased to be among a contingent of IIDA headquarters leadership and select international board members last week at Orgatec in Cologne, Germany.

Below, I offer Orgatec highlights, as well as a few images from the nearby independent exhibition Design Post. For American designers that are accustomed to NeoCon and other U.S. trade shows, the distinction at Orgatec is the broad international scope, including many companies that we rarely see stateside. With a theme of New Visions of Work, the biennial European trade show attracted more than 63,000 visitors from 142 countries for a week dedicated to commercial interior design. In total, Orgatec reports that 753 companies from 39 countries exhibited, three quarters of which were from outside of Germany.

While difficult to summarize the range of furnishings shown at Orgatec, we did see an attention to materiality and tactile qualities. One could describe it as a “softening” of the hard edges and surfaces associated with office interiors. While this was a trade show focused on workplace design, the number of desks and desking solutions were far outnumbered by soft seating, whether it is a lounge chair, bench, or sofa.

Designers are more aware of the need for privacy options in workplace interiors, and Orgatec exhibitors showcased a range of privacy solutions—some more savvy, elegant, and cognizant of scale than others. Privacy alternatives included fully enclosed booths, high-backed seating, and the integration of soft materials, such as fabrics and felt, as an acoustical buffer.

The desire for a more relaxed, flexible, adaptable, and hospitable workplace was evident throughout Orgatec. Here’s a glimpse of the show:

01Camira

With a lattice of its own fabric forming enclosures, Camira has a distinctive stand.

02AnatoleKoleksiyon

The Turkish company Koleksiyon displayed the Anatole Desk by Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

03Andreu

The Spanish company Andreu World featured its latest furnishings at its stand, including Dado for Work by Alfredo Häberli. Dado is a collection of modular sofas and chairs.

04CovePoltronaFrauFoster

Poltrona Frau introduced the Cove chair. Designed by Foster + Partners, the Cove chair provides privacy as well as a built-in desk surface.

05Halle

The Danish company +Halle introduced Easy Nest Sofa designed by the firm Form Us With Love.

06Hallechairs

The Easy Nest chair, designed by Form Us With Love, was displayed by +Halle.

07Haworth

A variety of options for well-designed workplace privacy were exhibited by Haworth.

08Infiniti

The Italian company Infiniti showcased its furnishings at its stand.

09Kvadrat

Beautiful Kvadrat fabrics were displayed at Orgatec.

10MDD

The design of the stand for the Polish company MDD had a Postmodern influence.

11Ophelis

With a whimsical design, the stand for the German company Ophelis stood out.

12VitraAC5

The AC 5 Group chair by Antonio Citterio was displayed by Vitra.

13VitraSoftWorkTwo

Soft Work, designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, was introduced by Vitra.

14VitraSoftWorkOne

A closer detail of Soft Work, designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby for Vitra.

15VitraArtek

Artek chairs were displayed within the Vitra hall at Orgatec.

16zDesignPost

Near Orgatec, the independent show Design Post included a number of exhibiting companies.

17zMagis

At Design Post, Magis exhibited a wall of its chairs.

18zMorosoChairs

Armada, a sculptural seating collection by Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien, was displayed at the Moroso stand at Design Post.

19zMorosoLounge

Inspired by Scandinavian design, the Lilo chaise lounge by Patricia Urquiola was prominently exhibited at the Moroso stand at Design Post.


John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, Assoc. AIA, is the deputy director and senior vice president of IIDA. He is the former editor in chief of Contract magazine.

A Visit to the Dynamic New Gensler San Francisco Workplace

For interior designers and architects, designing a firm’s own workspace is a heady task. And when it is the flagship office for the largest firm in the country, with a practice in a city of limited commercial real estate inventory and increasing leasing costs, the assignment is even more arduous. But the Gensler design team in San Francisco took on the complicated challenge, and essentially reinvented its own office with a move to a new workplace. Earlier this month, I enjoyed a tour of the new Gensler San Francisco office with two of the firm’s design leaders, Collin Burry, FIIDA, and Kelly Dubisar, IIDA. An internal team of Gensler management, operations, and design leaders had input on the relocation process and the interior design, which was overseen by Dubisar.

Gensler_GenslerSF_415

Seating areas, defined by shelves and a red lattice structure overhead, allow for casual conversations. The furniture can be easily moved or swapped out to essentially give new seating a test run in a real setting. Photographer: Rafael Gamo.

For 15 years, Gensler was located at 2 Harrison Street, with views of San Francisco Bay. But as the city’s real estate market and demand for tech office space evolved—in particular, Google’s footprint increased within that address—Gensler needed to find a new San Francisco home. After an extensive search in a city where the amount of available large-scale office space has decreased, Gensler selected three floors within the 34-floor 45 Fremont Street tower downtown. Burry points out that this office is a short-term solution, likely no more than a few years, and the firm will then select a more permanent home.

Gensler_GenslerSF_784

With a variety of places to sit, designers have options for individual work or conversations without the need for booking more formal meeting rooms. Photographer: Rafael Gamo.

With that in mind, the interior design is agile and adaptable, enabling the Gensler architects and designers to have a workplace that also reflects the changing nature of office design. In San Francisco specifically, where startups and established tech companies alike are flourishing, this workplace demonstrates how a large creative company with a half-century history can be nimble and dynamic. After all, Gensler is designing many of the tech company offices, so the firm orchestrated its own space to echo the way work is accomplished today across both tech and creative industries.

Gensler_GenslerSF_1477

The firm implemented a system of display boards hung on pegs, allowing for presentations to easily be moved around the office. Photographer: Rafael Gamo.

The majority of employees work on the upper and lower of the three floors. The workplace floors are conceived as design labs—workshop-like environments in which teams are seated at a variety of desks adjacent to meeting rooms. With a mix of programming on the middle floor, Dubisar aptly draws an analogy to an Oreo cookie when describing the office. Amenities on the middle floor (all photos shown here) include a well-equipped kitchen and a number of soft seating arrangements that allow for casual conversations.

Gensler_GenslerSF_063

A well-designed kitchen is a central hub for staff. Photographer: Rafael Gamo.

The adaptable seating spaces serve double duty—designers can place new and different seating and tables here, essentially giving the furniture a test run before specifying in a design project. Near the seating areas, a number of large boards displaying design work and concepts can be hung on pegs. The boards are easily movable from a design studio to this display area for presentations, whether it be internal discussions or meetings with clients.

Gensler_GenslerSF_1577

A model-making area adjacent to the resource library enables the workspace to be akin to a maker space for designers. Photographer: Rafael Gamo.

“The entire office could be considered a continuously running lab,” Dubisar says, “We love to try new things in order to better understand the challenges our clients face. We’re testing things that don’t exist in any other Gensler office, and it’s great to see the impact of our ideas.”


John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, Assoc. AIA, is the deputy director and senior vice president of IIDA. He is the former editor in chief of Contract magazine.