Tag Archives: Chicago

Neoclassical Chicago Building Gets Remodeled into an Upscale Pharmacy

The once abandoned 1920s-era Noel State Bank building is now a Walgreen’s Pharmacy in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, complete with high-end amenities including a sushi bar and smoothie counter.

Walgreens Chicago 2

Because the building is identified as a city of Chicago landmark, all interior and exterior updates were designed to reflect and maintain the original neoclassical architecture. The Camburas & Theodore team brought light to the building by installing LED light panels on the ceiling, made to match daylight and resemble a turn-of-the-century European train station.

Walgreens Chicago 5

Most of the building’s basement vaults were removed, but the team restored and preserved one special vault. Featured in the 1987 movie The Untouchables, the vault is now know as the “Vitamin Vault,” displaying on side, over-the-counter vitamins, and on the other, early 1900s-era Walgreens products showcased in a wall of restored safety deposit boxes.

Images: ©Copyright 2012 Padgett and Company

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Chicago Merchandise Mart Awarded LEED Gold

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded the Merchandise Mart with LEED Gold certification – just in time for NeoCon next week. The Mart has developed, implemented and enhanced a comprehensive sustainability program that reduces overall water consumption, optimizes energy efficiency, supports ozone-protection protocols, encourages renewable and alternative energy sources, purchases materials with less environmental impact, and eliminates sources of indoor air pollution. The Gold certification is an elevation to the Mart’s 2007 LEED Silver certification.

“The Merchandise Mart has been at the forefront of developing environmental sustainability practices for decades,” says Myron Maurer, chief operating officer, MMPI. “Our recertification efforts, resulting in an elevation from Silver to Gold, are recognition of our continued efforts.”

Image: designwire

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Architect Gordon Gill on His Love of Nature, Design and Building Sky-High Towers

While other architects may feel inspired by looking at other buildings, Gordon Gill, an architect in Chicago who specializes in very tall, energy-efficient structures, would rather get his ideas by looking at lakes or trees rather than Chicago’s skyline. The Windy City’s notorious gusts of wind are another inspiration, like for the 72-story Pearl River Tower – due to open within a few months in Guangzhou, China.

As stated in an article by James Hagerty in the Wall Street Journal, “Gill came up with the shape of the Pearl River building early one Saturday morning while sitting in the living room of his family’s apartment, which had a panoramic view of Lake Michigan. He had two ideas for its shape: a catcher’s mitt or a sail, designed to catch wind from many angles; and an elliptical form that would keep the sun from striking the entire facade at any one time, preventing overheating. When he mashed together the two shapes, he came up with his basic form, which resembles a plush, upholstered car seat.”

Rough early sketches for the Pearl River Tower, now being completed in Guangzhou, China.

At a time when companies are realizing the importance of building offices that help preserve or enhance the environment, Gill has become a star in his profession and sought after architect. His Chicago-based firm, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, is working on trophy assignments in the U.S., Asia and the Middle East. Their biggest project is the planned $1.2 billion Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. At nearly two-thirds of a mile high, the building is expected to be the world’s tallest, surpassing Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which was designed by Adrian Smith when he was at another firm: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

When it comes to capturing his ideas, Gill typically scribbles into black bound notebooks However, at a construction site in China, he once illustrated a concept for a client by stacking a couple bricks and scratching lines in the mud.

“Ideas need to be seized whenever they erupt. You can’t say, ‘OK, it’s time to design,'” Gill said. “You’ve just got to let it flow.” He says that he works best when he is juggling several projects rather than focusing on only one. “I’d rather have 10 problems in a day than one,” he said. Too much focus on one thing can lead to dead ends: “You may be asking the same question over and over, but the question itself may be wrong.”

Gill is passionate about creating structures that are energy-saving, like for a proposed 40-story hotel and office building in Nashville. Him and his colleagues wanted to maximize the ability of the south facade and roof to catch sunlight on solar panels. The drawings call for a building whose base is a rectangle, but the building will twist as it rises from the ground, turning its south face toward the sunlight and tilting the roof to capture more rays. For a tower in Wuhan, China, Gill’s colleagues used a computer model to run 32,196 iterations of possible shapes to find the best one for energy use, wind control and views. Gill has many ideas. Some of which include connecting a building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems via tubes to office furniture, so that occupants could tweak the cooling, heating or ventilation at their individual workspaces.

Photo: Wall Street Journal

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Fiber Art Dressed up the NeoCon Showroom

With inspiration from our ColorEvolution and SCAD fiber art projects, we worked with architecture and industrial design students from DePaul University and University of Illinois at Chicago to “yarn bomb” our showroom. The beautiful yarn types and colors bring a crafted feel to the space with explosions of color.

Chicago architecture and industrial design students transform the showroom with yarn bombing. (From left) Peter Drezek, Bryan Manis, Julia Ozers, Mie Ikeda and Ewelina Zawadzka

Fiber art in our NeoCon showroom

Fiber art in our NeoCon showroom

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Designer Bruce Mau’s Favorite Chicago Spots

One of our favorite designers, Bruce Mau – who collaborated with us on our L7 collection and is our moderator for this year’s Design is…Award – talked with enRoute (Air Canada’s publication) about his favorite spots in Chicago. Below are a few of his favorites:

Moto Restaurant


“Everything about Moto restaurant is designed. The first course was the menu itself – printed on edible paper. Another course was a tiny ball that exploded in your mouth with the sensation of eating cotton candy. One course was soup served in a baseball diamond-shaped bowl; the infield was pepperoni pizza soup and the outfield was Caesar salad. When you closed your eyes it tasted like pepperoni pizza.”

Aqua Tower



“This is the tallest skyscraper in the world designed by a woman architect, Jeanne Gang, who’s a local superstar. She took a modern tower and built balconies around it like waves, so you have this hard, crystal of a building with a fluid exterior.”






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