The Royal Thai Consulate-General of Chicago approached us to redesign the ground floor of their 1950's downtown office building. Wood and translucent glass panels provide a modern, warm backdrop for official functions. In all, we reconfigured and updated 8,000 square feet of entry, lobby, gallery, hall and office space to improve flow for visitors as well as employees. Our building information model (BIM) allowed us to effectively communicate design concepts with the owner and with the contractor.
Like our client, the Evanston Public Library Friends, we believe that libraries need to respond to culture and embrace technology in order to retain their important role in our communities. We were asked by EPLF to design a storefront library "outpost" that will temporarily replace the recently shuttered South Branch. We also designed a multi-functional furniture piece which we'll fabricate. The space is defined by off-the-shelf, inexpensive components like recycled acoustical ceiling tiles and metal electrical conduit used in innovative ways.
The Talking Farm is a nonprofit enterprise dedicated to healthy, local, sustainable food production and education. Studio Talo is working with the Farm to create an inspiring place to learn and work that is as ecologically sound as the their organic agricultural practices. The Farm is an unconventional enterprise and our firm's engagement with them as been equally unconventional. We've provided services ranging from graphic design to master planning, including the design of their 5,000 square foot headquarters.
Each year a carnival occupies a parking lot on the edge of St. Louis for a weekend. A fence is drawn around the perimeter to control access. There are rides, food, games and performances in temporary theatres. The entrance to our theatre, staging a medieval-themed skit, was a dragon made of wood framing, chicken wire and sheet metal scales. The organizers also held a competition for the design of a gate that could be erected by the designers. Our winning installation took advantage of materials reclaimed from the carnival itself: chain link, scaffolding, clear drop clothes and paint.
El Paso, Illinois is home to 2,500 friendly people and a beautiful, 1906 public library built with funds from Andrew Carnegie. The library is situated in a picturesque park in the center of town. We worked closely with the library's board and librarian to establish exactly which spaces needed to grow and by how much. This building program became the basis of a number of design studies exploring how the library might grow while providing universal accessibility and maintaining the building's character.
Sometimes helping a client means advising them not to build. We were hired by a successful day care on Chicago's north side to evaluate the possibility of converting a nearby 4,800 square foot commercial building into classrooms to accommodate their growing school. We took into consideration construction costs, the school's own guidelines as well as Chicago building code requirements, zoning requirements for teacher parking and DCFS standards for classroom space and student teacher ratios: it was basically a four-dimensional story problem with a lot of variables.
In 2006, the Unitarian Church of Evanston sought to establish a space for reflection and a place to celebrate the lives of its congregants. Unitarians are a practical bunch so it made sense to us to use the peace garden as a way to improve the daily life of the church while also creating a sacred space. We designed a sorely needed pedestrian walkway from the street to the entry. Seven trees, representing the faith's seven principles, line the path and screen the parking lot from a lawn for memorial services.
The Montessori approach to education emphasizes a dynamic relationship between children and their environment. This project for the Gateway Montessori School on Chicago's northwest side begins with the premise that the child's environment is their first teacher. In 2005, we converted half of a commercial building into classrooms, office space, kitchen and restrooms. Two years later the school had quickly outgrown its space and the director invited us back to complete the renovation of the first floor with two additional classrooms and restrooms.