BRINGING THE CITY INSIDE
HarleyElis' designers used a cityschape theme for Cramer-Krasselt's new offices, an approach that enabled them to gracefully blend the old and the new.
By Janet Wiens, Contributing Writer
Chicago boasts a vibrant urban environment and a cityscape that rivals any major U.S. city. It is fitting, then, that the design team at HarleyEllis chose a cityscape to interpret the new direction for the offices of Cramer-Krasselt (C-K), one of the largest independent advertising agencies in the United States.
HarleyEllis designed C-K's original space more than 15 years ago, so the firm was familiar with the agency. HarleyEllis understood the client's rich tradition, but also appreciated the opportunity to use the project to do something special to mirror the agency's growth and industry reputation.
"C-K wanted to create a new image while also retaining some vestige of their old space," says Enrique Suarez, AIA, principal in charge of design for HarleyEllis. "They wanted a more progressive design that would reflect the company's culture and that would help to attract new talent. Our challenge was to blend the old and the new."
After investigating several options, the agency decided to retain its offices in the Illinois Center, but with a sizeable expansion. The office now encompasses 58,000 square feet, well more than the previous 10,000 square feet they occupied. The firm has the entire 24th floor and half of both the 23rd and 25th floors.
"Pieces of a design evolve over time," says Suarez. "We believed that using an urbanist concept for the interior design provided a sound approach to blending elements of the original space with the new, much like pieces, such as streets, are added to a city's urban fabric." The resulting design uses wide corridors that act as "boulevards," which connect with the "plaza" areas of the reception area, conference rooms, lunchroom and staff gathering area.
An arts-and-crafts concept was used for the agency's original office, with decorative horizontal bands running through the space. HarleyEllis kept the bands in the new space but chopped them into pieces and made them more abstract. The bands are darker in color at the bottom; squares and rectangles in accent colors are arranged above.
The color palette was a major shift. The gray, purple and green tones used in the original space were replaced with tans, taupe, light greens and oranges. The new palette creates a very warm, contemporary environment when combined with the blond woods used throughout the space.
The reception area on the 24th floor is open and inviting. The porcelain tile floor mirrors the exposed ceiling above, but has a subtle color shift. Visitors pass by cabinets—which are painted to look like wood, and display brands from the agency's portfolio—suspended on a wire-cable system on the way to the reception desk. The beautifully crafted reception desk of dark cherry and honey anigre with a band of poplar painted black is simple and elegant, and the wall behind the desk is constructed from the same woods to further enhance the warmth and elegance of the space. Commercials produced by the agency run on the plasma TV on the wall, while portions of the wall open to the outside to allow natural light to flow into the space. The oval soffit above the reception area is part of the original design and creates an interesting element when combined with the floating wood ceiling above the desk.
A special red-orange color identifies the boulevards that serve as circulation corridors. A flexible display system incorporated along the corridors is akin to city storefronts and is used to showcase the agency's advertising campaigns and art. The banding that begins in the reception area continues throughout the corridors.
In C-K's previous space, everyone had a closed office. The decision was made to retain some of the closed offices in the new space while incorporating open offices into the plan. It was important to keep the square footage down based on economics, while also creating an interactive work environment that would foster creativity. Work areas in the open plan are open on two sides and feature seven-foot wall panels on the other two sides to evoke both privacy and openness. Four units are arranged together in a pinwheel configuration-an approach that promotes interaction because views are open in several directions rather than just one. Drywall construction was used for the shell of each station, which also features custom systems furniture, tack panels, plastic laminate work surfaces and individual task lighting.
Conference rooms are plentiful, located throughout the space, and come in a variety of sizes. The rooms feature traditional table seating as well as informal lounge seating to accommodate a variety of presentation approaches. "War rooms" are enclosed and have curved walls and translucent patterned full-height panels. Surface areas and countertops help to maximize work and display areas. The lunchroom, which was like a hospital cafeteria in the previous space, opens into a large boulevard area and is very vibrant. A gathering area with a pool table offers another break space for employees.
"We now have an office environment that reflects, promotes and encourages the agency's creativity and talent," concludes Peter Krivkovich, the agency's president and CEO. "The design applies the dynamics of the city—boulevards, destination points, different perspectives, gathering places and continual movement—interesting
elements that are conducive to interaction and the creative work process."
Mannington Commercial, Armstrong Commercial Flooring
Armstrong Ceiling Systems
Parenti & Raffaelli, Ltd
PORCELAIN TILE FLOOR
225 N. Michigan
Chicago, IL 60601
401 W. Superior
Chicago, IL. 60610
IIDA, Associate AIA
|Caterina Hutchinson, NCIDQ-Interior Design|
Sandra Martinez, NCIDQ-Interior Design
Kristen Moran, NCIDQ-Interior Design
Clune Construction Company
Christopher Barrett, Hedrich Blessing