Design team 2022-2023


Downtown Chicago is made of a dense urban core comprising both a commercial office district as well as residential apartment units that make up its urban fabric. With a median community age of around 32 and a chunk of the employed population being millennials, the design narrative serves as a catalyst for community development. The building site is located at the junction of design aims to bridge the gap between the office and residential district by serving as an intersection for pedestrians to get engaged and find a purpose to stimulate their senses.

The 90,000 sq. ft. land area has a small ratio of covered area compared to the extensive landscaping space that engages the public and incorporates retail spaces for local small businesses, which will stimulate the local economy and enliven the area. This office building is designed to cater not just to the average office goer, but also workers with neuro-diverse needs, highschool students, and freelancers who are provided with rentable spaces. In order to enhance not just the aesthetic quality of the structure, but also optimize its performance, several innovations have been introduced that include: an algae facade, solar chimney, and underground EV charging infrastructure,  all incorporated within the 8-story mass timber frame structure. The building’s energy needs will be met through PV solar powered arrays and wind turbines added to the building.

By converting closed plans to open ones, and multiple spaces to flexible spaces, we create a more accessible, friendly, and creative environment. Our architectural philosophy addresses the latent impacts of COVID on work-life culture, and seeks to accommodate new innovations such as hybrid-working while also making office use both more desirable and sustainable. The staircase-like external appearance of the building, and extended, open inner-spaces both take inspiration from the concept of “elevation”, which speaks to the constant aspirations of growth that move our cities, whilst emphasizing the necessity of keeping this growth in-tune with spirit and nature.

Utilizing a continuous insulation system, rigid foam board is applied outbound of the wall’s sheathing. In addition to eliminating thermal breaks, this rigid foam layer serves as a weather-resistive barrier and vapor guard, which helps ensure the longevity of the framing and improves the building’s indoor environment. The HVAC system consists of two active components; a dedicated Daikan RoofPak sized for the specific requirements of the office, retail, and cafe/storage spaces; and, to reduce energy consumption, VRV units are placed within each zone to individually control the ventilation and heating/cooling within them. The water system consists of water heaters with a reheat system that utilizes geothermal pile foundation, as well as on-demand recirculation pumps located below each fixture. Our building’s electrical system will include LED circadian lighting and ambient motion sensor lighting to complement an efficient design.

Renewable energy sources provide the required production to meet the site's total annual energy consumption, which makes our site net-zero. Utilization of multiple energy sources makes the site less reliant on a grid-tied system when environmental conditions are not in favor of a specific or even multiple renewable energy sources. Nevertheless, the building will have access to the Chicago electrical grid, which is a reliable source of backup power if PV production exceeds energy demand.

The proposed design is optimized to reduce energy requirements, coupled with building materials and systems that either sequester carbon dioxide or extract it out of the air. Greenfluidics algae solar bio-panels improve air quality by mitigating 200 Kg CO2 per year alongside providing continuous oxygenation. In addition, the HVAC control system can be optimized through pre-engineered solutions, greatly reducing upfront and long-term labor costs.

The energy efficiency of the building will be maximized without reducing comfort for the occupants through a number of passive measures such as optimal building orientation, algae facade temperature differentials between the windows and facades to provide ventilation and passive cooling during the summertime when the windows are open, and a solar chimney along the southern facade to provide help with cooling and ventilation in summer as well as heating in winter. A streamlined phone app has been designed to allow users a convenient and comfortable way to operate throughout the day, completing tasks such as checking bicycle parking, ordering ahead from retail, reserving office space, and adjusting lighting/temperature.

ELEVATE-Chicago Renders

ELEVATE-Chicago Design