City By Design

City By Design

From the book City by Design:

Chicago by Panache Partners

On many main streets across America, maintaining character while promoting vitality is a delicate balance. The village of Northbrook, Illinois, is no exception, where residents and village officials alike have a renewed interest in strengthening activity in their central business district to complement the village’s outlying office, shopping and dining districts. When the idea to redevelop a high-profile site in the village center came about, one very distinct element had to be carefully considered: How can a structure be the first of its kind and not be remarkably out of place? The developer of 1363 Shermer approached Myefski Cook Architects with a rare opportunity to create something unique for Northbrook, under the watchful eyes of this proud village.

The triangular site for this office building is directly adjacent to train tracks, a 25-minute ride from Chicago’s own bustling downtown. This location next to a commuter rail station suited the building’s proposed use perfectly: provide both a professional working environment close to home and a meeting space for those traveling to and from work in Chicago. After working with village officials, the commuter rail company and local utilities for two years, approval was in hand and construction was underway.

Breaking with traditional organization of office spaces, the unique triangular geometry of 1363 Shermer paralleled the developer’s intent to provide a unique working environment as part of his shared office concept. The structure also reflects unique site characteristics — its poured-in-place concrete walls and floors assist in minimizing vibration, while laminated glass reduces noise from the active train schedule visible just outside any easy window. The offices are enclosed with a taut masonry facade with a regular rhythm of alternating punch openings and boxed bay windows. Each of these three faces terminates in cylindrical corners, which mimics spools of thread. Subtle changes in brick and color are also utilized, with the narrower southern facade clad in white limestone, reflecting summer heat. The hint of historic detailing at the corner towers grounds the building, topped with metal cornices that also shield the building’s mechanical systems.

At three stories, the building has greater presence than seen in surrounding structures, but it meets the street at  a human scale to which all can relate. Recessed glass opening and canopies engage pedestrians seeking shelter on their way to catch the next train, or headed to the diner currently planned at the northern, first-floor corner space. At the center canopy, the building’s main entry, tenants and visitors alike are greeted by a concierge stationed within the lobby.

Myefski Cook Architects selected interior finishes, planning for furniture and dramatic locations for artwork, for the first-floor lobby as well as for the offices on floors two and three. In addition to private offices, there are also shared conference facilities, a clubroom with pool table, kitchenettes and support spaces on those levels.

With its proximity to public transportation and work environments close to home, 1363 Shermer is the new dynamic of sustainable building, where contemporary needs, technology and aesthetics find harmony in a main street setting. With 1363 Shermer, Myefski Cook Architects has succeeded in elevating a community — a great statement for Northbrook’s progress and for architectural openness.