EJATT Renewable Energy Training Field Achieves Rare Distinction for Technological Innovation

[Alsip, IL] – The Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO) recognized the Electrical Joint Apprenticeship & Training Trust’s (EJATT) IN-TECH Renewable Energy Training Field (RETF) with a “Special Mention” in its 2015 Pride in Construction Awards competition. The program honors top quality union construction projects.

DCIM101MEDIADJI_0084.JPG

A ground-mounted solar field, consisting of rows of photovoltaic panels, occupies an area about the size of a football field at the new Renewable Energy Training Field. Photo courtesy NECA Chicago and IBEW Local Union #134.

The 25-acre project, designed by Legat Architects’ principal Alan Bombick, AIA, marks the largest outdoor training campus of its kind in the country and includes one of the Midwest’s first facilities slated for net-zero energy status (i.e., creates more energy than it consumes). The campus has evolved over the past 15 years along the master plan guidelines developed for EJATT by Bombick. It will eventually include expanded training and community education facilities to elevate awareness of real world renewable energy options and the IBEW – NECA mission.

Here’s what CISCO said about the honor: “Each year, the Board of Directors has the flexibility to choose a project that is technologically unique, and recognize it in the Special Mention category. As a teaching tool, the renewable energy field is one-of-a-kind in the country. This marks only the second time the Board has bestowed this honor in the program’s 10-year history.”

Electricians from across the region will learn the latest solar, wind and smart grid applications at the RETF. Contractors will be able to demonstrate the most advanced renewable energy, storage and management systems in action for their customers. Architects and engineers will see firsthand how these systems and technologies can improve their designs.

Every aspect of this project will improve the understanding and implementation of renewable energy that underpins the new economy.

Read “A Training Ground for Tommorrow’s Technology,” Sustainable Chicago magazine’s story about the RETF.

Comment below to share your thoughts on this post.

 


Hyatt Place Cleveland/Westlake/Crocker Park brings Lodging to Premier Mixed-use Development

[Westlake, OH] – When Stark Enterprises set out to expand Crocker Park just west of Cleveland, the firm enlisted The Olympia Companies and Legat Architects for a modern and upscale select service hotel to capture the excitement of the newest phase of the premier lifestyle development.

Hyatt-Place-Cleveland-Westlake-Crocker-Park

The Hyatt Place Cleveland/Westlake/Crocker Park brings upscale lodging to the Crocker Park lifestyle mixed-use development.

The team brought Stark to Chicago’s award-winning Hyatt Place Chicago-South/University Medical Center hotel. That hotel, also developed by The Olympia Companies and designed by Legat, helped regenerate Chicago’s historic Hyde Park neighborhood.

That tour turned out to be instrumental for Crocker Park. Today, Hyatt Place Cleveland/Westlake/Crocker Park, inspired by the Hyatt Place hotel in Hyde Park, stands amid Crocker Park’s bustling retail shops, theater, restaurants, and soon, the 650,000-square-foot headquarters of American Greetings.

“The community embraces this hotel,” said Robert Stark, President & Chief Executive Officer with Stark Enterprises, at the December ribbon cutting ceremony. “We gave them the best.”

Hyatt-Place-Cleveland-Westlake-Crocker-Park-Entry

Hyatt Place Cleveland/Westlake/Crocker Park rises amid a vibrant retail and entertainment hub.

The Olympia Companies operates Hyatt Place Cleveland/Westlake/Crocker Park, which includes the Coffee to Cocktails Bar, a café bar in the hotel’s lobby, as well as an indoor pool, fitness center, and meeting rooms. A fire pit, outdoor seating and an overhead catenary lighting system animate the pedestrian laneway on the hotel’s west side.

Mike Zimmerman, Vice President of Development at The Olympia Companies, said, “We are very excited to bring this brand new hotel to Crocker Park. With the Hyatt Place brand being rated highest in guest satisfaction among upscale hotel chains by J.D. Power, this hotel raises the bar on lodging options in Westlake and Cleveland’s west side.”

Hyatt-Place-Cleveland-Westlake-Crocker-Park-Materials

Designers selected materials that were locally manufactured and respectful of the hotel’s context.

Same Shape, New Materials

Alan F. Bombick, principal at Legat, said, “Finding the appropriate design expression began with an understanding of regional architecture and the owner’s vision for this gateway site at Crocker Park.”

The leadership tasked Legat’s April Maifield, architectural project manager of the Hyatt Place hotel in Hyde Park, to assume the same role for the Crocker Park facility.

Maifield faced the challenge of maintaining the hotel’s overall appearance, while selecting new façade materials that were regionally manufactured and respectful of the budget. She chose a trio of visually appealing, yet durable materials from local sources: terra cotta shingles (Columbus, Ohio), stainless steel shingles (Elk Horn, Wisconsin), and black face brick (Canton, Ohio).

Maifield said, “The collection of façade materials creates a complimentary texture to the rest of Crocker Park, yet gives the hotel its own identity.”

ABOUT HYATT PLACE

Hyatt Place, a brand of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, offers more than 235 locations in the United States, Armenia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, India, Mexico, Morocco, Puerto Rico, The Netherlands, and United Arab Emirates. For Hyatt Place information or to make a reservation, call 1-888-HYATT-HP (888-492-8847) or visit hyattplace.com.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram, and tag photos with #HyattPlace and #TheresAPlaceForYou.


A West Loop Mainstay: Legat Architects Celebrates 20 Years in Downtown Chicago

[Chicago, IL] – Joseph Legat, founder of Legat Architects, wanted his organization to transcend the label of “suburban firm.” In 1964, Legat founded his practice in the City of Waukegan 40 miles north of downtown Chicago. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the firm had opened studios in other Chicago-area suburbs, but it had yet to set up shop within the city.

So in 1996, Legat opened another studio at 651 W. Washington Boulevard in Chicago’s then mostly industrial West Loop neighborhood.

Highland-Park-High-School

Many of Legat’s top tier design projects over the past 20 years came out of its Chicago studio. For instance, an addition that modernized Highland Park High School won a Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects’ Chicago Chapter.

This month, Legat Architects celebrates 20 years at that location, now at the heart of one of Chicago’s fastest-growing tech districts. The firm counts among its Chicago-based clientele organizations ranging from Chicago Public Schools and the University of Illinois at Chicago to the Public Building Commission and the City of Chicago.

ABC7-State-Street

A façade enhancement and renovation of ABC7’s State Street studio improved the station’s visibility, while preserving the detail of the 1920s-era building. This project also received a Distinguished Building Award from AIA Chicago.

Against the Tide

Moraine-Valley-Blue-Island

A facelift brought a fresh, energetic feel to Moraine Valley Community College’s Blue Island campus.

Legat created the multi-studio concept based on the idea that “people want to work with local architects.” The movement spawned a wave of imitators. However, whereas most major Chicago architecture firms started in the city, then branched out to the suburbs, Legat did the opposite.

“When we started out downtown, our reputation was that of a suburban architect with offices all over the place,” said Legat. “Other architects would say, ‘What is this guy Legat doing?’ Once they figured it out, they were quick to follow suit.”

The next phase of Legat Architects’ Chicago studio is the “Innovation Lab” renovation, which will bring technologies like 3D printing, laser cutting, and computer numerical control (CNC) milling capabilities.

“Our Chicago studio has developed as our corporate headquarters, our center of operations,” said Legat President/CEO Patrick Brosnan. “As we grow nationally and internationally, the Chicago studio remains a convenient location to connect our other studios, and to connect our staff with other national and international consultants and clients. Like Chicago, we are a diverse, innovative, sustainable, and a dynamic place!”

Legat-Architects-West-Loop

Last November, Legat hosted the West Loop Innovation Lab. Students, local artists, and members of the West Loop neighborhood assembled at the firm’s Chicago studio to experience some of the challenges and triumphs of design.

Legat Architects, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, operates studios in Chicago, Crystal Lake, Oak Brook, the Quad Cities, and Waukegan, as well as a Columbus-Ohio based partnership called Legat Kingscott. The firm will open a new studio in Gurnee, Illinois this year.


Adaptive Reuse Projects That Connect Health Care Providers with Communities

Health care providers that want to expand their regional reach often turn to adaptive reuse as a cost effective and speedy means of opening new facilities. Also called repurposing, adaptive reuse involves renovating a facility to transform it from one use to another. For instance, a provider might convert a vacant retail store into an ambulatory care center.

One of the biggest architectural challenges in these scenarios is capturing the provider’s brand, while recognizing a facility’s history within the community. We can do this by paying tribute to, rather than completely erasing, some of the most engaging components that identify the facility as part of the community’s legacy.

For instance, visitors to the Erie HealthReach Waukegan Health Center in Waukegan, Illinois are often pleasantly surprised when they encounter hints of the facility’s former role as a bank.

Old safe deposit boxes line a staff lounge at the Erie HealthReach Waukegan Health Center.

Old safe deposit boxes line a staff lounge at the Erie HealthReach Waukegan Health Center.

Relics Resurfaced

Community is a vital part of the Erie brand. The design of its Waukegan facility reflects this focus in everything from the Erie logo etched in vestibule glass to the photos of actual Erie patients and employees dispersed throughout the facility.

Still, the organization wanted to take this community commitment to the next level by honoring the repurposed facility as a notable part of the community’s past. The design responds:

  • Refurbished vault doors with still-spinning locks appear in corridors and break areas.
  • Old safe deposit boxes provide a unique backdrop within staff break rooms.
  • Ornamental panels from the backs of vault doors were reused as decorative elements within the corridor.
  • Just for kicks, an FDIC sticker remains on what was once the bank’s drive-through window.

No matter what the old facility’s prior use, architects and health care providers should consider ways of retaining some of its most charming characteristics. In the case of the Erie Waukegan facility, it turned out to be a valuable investment.


Furnishing a global perspective at British International School of Chicago’s new South Loop campus

[Chicago, IL] – Educational and architectural communities alike have commended the British International School of Chicago’s recently completed South Loop campus for its technology-rich learning environments. The facility reflects the school’s personalized, high-quality approach to learning in everything from the façade along 9th and Wells to the furniture within its rooms.

British-School-Chicago-South-Loop-Exterior

British International School of Chicago’s South Loop campus. Photo courtesy Antunovich Associates

The institution challenged Legat Architects’ interiors team to create a furnishings, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) package as modern and striking as the rest of the building, designed by Antunovich Associates.

Today, a diverse collection of seating, desks, and tables supports the school’s acclaimed international curriculum. The furniture ranges from the interactive stools and vivid, curving tables in the Early Years spaces to the sophisticated collaborative benching system with double computer monitors and the maple-top workbenches in the Design Technology room.

Legat, which led the institution’s Lincoln Park Campus renovations, worked closely with the South Loop campus’s lead architect/interior designer Antunovich.

British-School-Chicago-South-Loop-Interior

Bold furnishings respond to the British International School of Chicago’s distinct curriculum. Photo courtesy Antunovich Associates

Sylvia Kowalk, director of interior design at Legat, said, “The furnishings had to support the school’s emphasis on creativity and personalized instruction, while maintaining the strong design that you see in the curves, colors, and materials throughout the building.”

Kowalk and her team drew from their experience at both preK-12 and higher education campuses to select more sophisticated furnishings. For instance, in many cases, they specified bright, but not primary colors.

Following are other examples of innovative furniture within the new South Loop campus:

  • In the Design Technology room and Art rooms, maple-top tables with stools and metal storage hark back to the traditional wood shop, while still conveying an industrial, contemporary look.
  • Rolling chairs and tables with retractable monitors offer flexibility in the Information Communications Technology room.
  • Vibrant rounded ottomans encourage spontaneous interaction and gathering in breakout areas along the entry and corridor.
  • High-top café-style seating, restaurant-style booths, and lower tables in different shapes offer a variety of seating options in the cafeteria.
  • Mobile, organically-shaped bookcases with integrated seating divide the Primary Library and act as a storyteller seating bench.
  • Activity stations within the Early Years multipurpose room invite students to play, explore, and learn.

Tour the South Loop campus courtesy Curbed Chicago.


Public Works/Maintenance Facility Design Essentials – Part 1 (Effective yet Affordable)

This series will draw from my experience managing the planning and design of maintenance facilities at two of Illinois’ largest community colleges: the College of DuPage (COD) and Joliet Junior College (JJC). Though the projects occurred on higher education campuses, the lessons that they reveal apply to any type of public works providers.

We start with a challenge that public works providers face throughout the country: how can I create a facility that is efficient, durable, and attractive (in a word, “effective”) . . . without spending a fortune?

Different metal cladding distinguishes the office and shop areas at the Joliet Junior College Facility Services Building. The less visible garage areas (upper left) are built with utilitarian precast concrete painted white to match other campus structures.

Different metal cladding distinguishes the office and shop areas at the Joliet Junior College Facility Services Building. The less visible garage areas (upper left) are built with utilitarian precast concrete painted white to match other campus structures.

The facilities and maintenance personnel at COD and JJC faced a challenge just like this. During the past ten years, both colleges have added to their campuses a collection of energy- and operationally- efficient modern buildings that are pleasing to the eye. In both cases, the new maintenance facilities were not a priority, mainly because they aren’t used directly by students. This brings to mind the public works provider, whose facilities issues often take a back seat to more public facilities like city/village halls and public safety buildings.

COD and JJC had campus maintenance facilities that were old and in various states of disrepair. And when their turn for a new facility came, the emphasis was achieving the same pleasing appearance as other campus buildings, while keeping costs down.

The design of the new facilities addressed this issue by using more visually appealing (and more expensive) materials on parts of the facilities exposed to the campus. For instance, more dollars were invested in office areas that face the campus, while the less visible garage and storage spaces use more utilitarian, though still durable materials.

Decorative concrete and glass give the Campus Maintenance Center an attractive face toward the College of DuPage campus. Less exposed areas use a more economical precast.

Decorative concrete and glass give the Campus Maintenance Center an attractive face toward the College of DuPage campus. Less exposed areas use a more economical precast.

At the COD Campus Maintenance Center (CMC), decorative precast concrete, metal, and glass get a starring role along the administrative office area that faces the campus. And on the garage above, there are clerestory windows that face the road to add visual interest. Basic precast was used for the more hidden storage and shop areas. The Precast Concrete Institute gave the CMC a Project of the Year award for its innovative materials use.

The design of JJC’s Facility Services Building uses a similar strategy, making particularly effective use of metal panels with the office and shop areas that students pass on their way to campus. The office area is a metal stud framed building with smooth, foam insulated panels, while corrugated metal over precast creates a more industrial look along the adjacent shop area. The garage area is set back and built of precast concrete, which is painted white to complement the predominant color of other buildings on campus.

Next time, I’ll give tips on screening materials, vehicles, and other “back of yard” resources.


Train Station Architectural Design Fundamentals – Part 1 (A Community Model)

Architect draws from experience at over 20 train stations to discuss common design challenges

Years ago, a client showed me his elaborate model train set. As his Lionel train—the engine even puffed smoke!—circled the track, he reflected on the history of rail. We also discussed the architectural styles of some of the buildings within his display.

“For many communities, the most prominent symbol of their connection to rail travel is the train station.”

“For many communities, the most prominent symbol of their connection to rail travel is the train station.”

This train buff is one of many for whom enthusiasm for rail travel runs deep. Despite Uber, electric vehicles, and the approaching self-driving car, the heyday of train travel remains deeply embedded in the public consciousness. For many communities, the most prominent symbol of their connection to rail travel is the train station.

In some cases, that station is a neglected shack in dire need of repair or replacement. In others, it’s a beautiful gateway to the community, an icon that builds pride and, sometimes, an inspiration for future development. I’ve even seen communities use a station as a venue for wedding receptions!

Unfortunately, many stations have lost their allure for a variety of reasons: lack of maintenance, a careless design, etc. Every day across the nation, hundreds of thousands of commuters drift through stations to catch a ride to work. But these stations can be so much more than places to buy a ticket and wait.

The beloved train station might apply the Richardsonian Romanesque style with masonry and arches. Or, it might be a steel and glass expression of forward movement. Regardless of whether it’s historic or contemporary, a train station makes a statement about its community’s values.

I’ve been involved with the design over 20 train station projects, ranging from façade repairs and interior renovations to brand new stations. Over the next few months, I’ll be blogging about some of the problems that communities face with train stations, as well as the most important parts of train station design. I do hope that you’ll join me for the journey.


Energy-efficient HVAC Systems Save Costs, Optimize Comfort at Schools

It’s a common problem: in winter, one room with a southern exposure is well-heated, while another is a few degrees colder because it has a north exposure. During summer, it’s just the opposite.

The traditional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system responds with an “all or nothing” approach: it’s either operating at 100 percent . . . or it’s off. That’s wasteful. Moreover, when these temperature variances occur in schools, they can impact student concentration and, ultimately, performance.

A Variable Refrigerant Flow heating and cooling system at Community Consolidated School District 59’s new Early Learning Center cuts energy costs by 50 percent and creates consistent optimal comfort throughout the school.

A Variable Refrigerant Flow heating and cooling system at Community Consolidated School District 59’s new Early Learning Center cuts energy costs by 50 percent and creates consistent optimal comfort throughout the school.

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems work their magic by essentially “feeling around” the building to determine what spaces need heat or cooling. For instance, before it uses new energy to extract heat from the refrigerant, the system looks to transplant that heat from one part of the building to another part that is calling for heat.

The Community Consolidated School District 59 Early Learning Center exemplifies how VRF systems can be both energy efficient and cost effective. Early in the planning process, CS2 Design Group did an energy modeling study. It examined short- and long-term cost and savings implications of several HVAC systems.

The VRF system turned out to be the wisest choice: it is estimated to save the district nearly $30,000 a year . . . meaning the district will spend less than half of the operational expenses that it would spend with a conventional HVAC system.

Additionally, CCSD59 managed to reduce the initial cost of the system and its installation by receiving a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF).

Beyond the obvious cost reduction benefits, grants like this allow the design team members to make quicker decisions and meet tighter timelines. In the case of the CCSD59 Early Learning Center, it was six months to design and nine months to build.

Read more about the VRF system or overall design of the CCSD59 Early Learning Center. View photos from the CCSD59 ELC groundbreaking.


Essentials of Early Learning Center Design – Part Four (Welcome the Community)

The early learning years can be a stressful time. In many cases, it’s not only the first educational experience for the child, but it’s also the first time that parents are sending off a child. The design of the early learning center has the potential to reduce that stress for both child and parent.

In this post (the last in my series on the early learning center design essentials), I’ll discuss how facilities can be safe, comfortable places that welcome students and community members alike.

The glassy entry at the CCSD59 Early Learning Center welcomes the community with vibrant colors and views to inside activity. During the day, natural light fills the welcome center and corridor.

The glassy entry at the CCSD59 Early Learning Center welcomes the community with vibrant colors and views to inside activity. During the day, natural light fills the welcome center and corridor.

When my husband and I shared preschool drop-off and pick-up duties for our two children, we noticed the poorly lit, tiny, seatless lobby. It seemed so uninviting. Plus, when parents mingled or talked with teachers, their children would often just stand there. We thought it would be nice if there were a place where parents could assemble and chat while their children had something to do.

To be truly community friendly, today’s early learning center should immediately engage the student and his or her parents. It should encourage purposeful play and socialization.

New early learning centers in Addison and Mount Prospect, Illinois feature a “welcome center” within the administrative area. Right away, students get the spontaneity and engagement that they crave, and parents get peace of mind.

The CCSD59 Early Learning Center surrounds a central courtyard where children can safely play while their parents mingle in the corridor and welcome center.

The CCSD59 Early Learning Center surrounds a central courtyard where children can safely play while their parents mingle in the corridor and welcome center.

At the Addison School District 4 Early Learning Center, for instance, the welcome center offers specific areas for parents while educational play tools immediately occupy students.

Enclosed outdoor courtyards can also engross children in educational play during pick-up/drop-off times. The Community Consolidated School District 59 Early Learning Center offers a main courtyard and three thematic learning gardens, all surrounded by the facility. Parents can have stress-free, meaningful conversations within the facility, with great views of their kids having a ball outside.

Read my other posts on the essentials of early learning center design:

Part 1 – Indoor/Outdoor Connectivity

Part 2 – Inspire Curiosity

Part 3 – Encourage Interaction

If you have any questions about early learning center design, please contact me:


The Magic of Metal in Architectural Design

Metal’s wide array of colors and a growing assortment of textures (e.g., smooth, corrugated, embossed, striated) offer designers a high level of customization.

Metal panels frame a south-facing extension of Joliet Junior College’s Natural Science Building. Additionally, randomly arranged metal sun shelves extend eight inches from the curtain wall to add visual interest and shade the glass at a nominal cost.

Metal panels frame a south-facing extension of Joliet Junior College’s Natural Science Building. Additionally, randomly arranged metal sun shelves extend eight inches from the curtain wall to add visual interest and shade the glass at a nominal cost.

The material offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of changing appearance depending on the time of day and the position of the sun. What you see on a sunny morning can look completely different than what you see on a rainy afternoon.

Metal is also highly recyclable. Steel and aluminum in particular have little to no degradation during recycling.

The University Center of Lake County exemplifies the malleability of metal panels. The south façade, which embraces the courtyard, features metal bands that weave in and out of the curtain wall to create balconies and bay windows. The bands carry through to the interior to define the atrium balconies and a spiral staircase.

The University Center of Lake County exemplifies the malleability of metal panels. The south façade, which embraces the courtyard, features metal bands that weave in and out of the curtain wall to create balconies and bay windows. The bands carry through to the interior to define the atrium balconies and a spiral staircase.

The malleability of metal cladding is another of its key strengths. Its manifestations range from sleek, rectilinear facilities (see Joliet Junior College Natural Sciences Building) to structures that twist and bend like abstract paintings (see University Center of Lake County). It can be used to build a new signature facility, or to inject a dull, dated masonry box with a sense of vitality.