AIA Chicago Design Excellence Awards

Here are four winners of 2000 AIA Chicago Design Excellence Awards and Interior Architecture Awards. Text and images grabbed from the awards web page.

Wilmette Public Works Facility in Wilmette, Illinois by A. Epstein and Sons International
This is a small project with a big purpose: by linking two mundane buildings with a lively design, it changes the work environment for the employees and provides an attractive street façade for the public works complex. A single-loaded corridor plan, with circulation on the yard side and occupied spaces on the street side, allows natural light to penetrate the building. The corridor splays out to provide access to an employee patio/courtyard. A large steel and fabric canopy runs from the courtyard to the parking lot, providing covered access to the entrance and creating a sheltered outdoor dining space on the patio. The jury felt that the project set a good example of creating a linking structure that also stands by itself, and that the sense of scale and welcoming entrance were an asset to the neighborhood.

Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois by OWP&P Architects, 1999
The city’s first public high school in 20 years was designed to compete with private schools to attract gifted students. Jurors were impressed with the results, making comments such as, "It takes high school architecture to a completely new level; I was amazed when I realized this was a public institution; the interiors are exceptional." The constraints of the long, narrow site, bounded by residential streets, utilities, and the river, were turned to advantage with a linear plan of interconnecting forms. Interstitial spaces between the large volumes became light-filled gathering spots that encourage students to enjoy the unique setting. An auditorium and adjacent glazed lobby are sited to facilitate community use.

Herman Miller National Showroom in Chicago, Illinois by Krueck & Sexton Architects, 2001
"This showroom creates its own environment, one that is fresh but is also a good backdrop for the furniture," said the jury, words of praise that define the ideal for any display space. "The design is sublime, particularly in the new way of using glass," they continued. The 23,000-square-foot flagship showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart needed to use commonplace materials to reflect the client’s corporate values of economy and honest use of materials. The 200-foot perimeter exhibit wall is composed of dynamically faceted glass panels mortised into a recycled clear glass and white epoxy floor, which flows onto low benches that engage the free-floating reception desk and island kitchen. Overlapping pinned glass panels that curve through the space are used as enclosing walls on four conference rooms. These etched glass panels absorb the multi-colored light, which is programmed to change throughout the day, so that they can be either clear or obscure at the flip of a switch.

Alliance Française de Chicago in Chicago, Illinois by DeStefano + Partners
Paying homage to Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre, contemporary French architecture, and two vintage Chicago buildings seems a lot to ask of a small linking structure, but this project meets those ambitious goals with grace and style. The Alliance purchased an old bank building that abuts the rear garden and alley of their existing 1870s townhouse and requested an overhaul of the entire 17,000-square-foot space and a new connection between the buildings. The link is sited in the shared courtyard and is a steel structure with a clear, fritted glass envelope. The jury loved the spatial quality created by this addition that is small in size but big in impact.