Itâ€™s not often one walks into an office and feels a sense of calm and utter tranquility. An uncommon workplace in the center of downtown Chicago is serious in tone, as well as serene, designed as much for receiving visitors as for providing its 25-person staff the best environment in which to work.
The space, with its zen atmosphere, is, not surprisingly, anchored by a strong Eastern influence, reflecting a desire of the client, who has traveled extensively in Asia and amassed an impressive collection of art from the continent. What may be surprising, however, is that its design comes via Italy.
The Rome-based architecture firm Alvisi Kirimoto, headed by Massimo Alvisi and Japanese-born partner Junko Kirimoto, was tapped to tailor the spaceâ€”its first project in the U.S.â€”working with the local office of CannonDesign, which had been brought on earlier to organize the layout of the rectangular floor plate. The straightforward arrangement has private offices and conference rooms lining the window walls around a central core containing the elevator banks and bathrooms.
â€śIt was very clear from the beginning that the client wanted something special,â€ť recalls Alvisi. Working with CannonDesign, the client had already selected two consecutive midlevel floors in a new tower being built along the Chicago River, after deciding to relocate from just a few blocks away. The office for one enterprise would occupy the full lower floor, nearly 30,000 square feet, taking advantage of its 12-foot ceiling height and carving out a piece of the floor aboveâ€”which houses another of the clientâ€™s businessesâ€”to create a large double-height room that has come to be known as the Winter Garden. â€śWe had an unusual amount of flexibility with the building, which was just beginning construction,â€ť says CannonDesign principal Mark Hirons. â€śWe were even offered the possibility of balconies, but we opted for a light-filled interior space at one end of the floor that could be enjoyed year-round.â€ť