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Corgan Chicago Office Design

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My Kind of Town

Corgan’s Chicago presence is increasing, and as the firm earns more work in the Midwest, the team is expanding to match the demand. Corgan’s new office in the modernist Mies van der Rohe’s 52-story tower at the AMA Plaza, provides a place to be inspired—and plenty of room to grow. Inspirational views feature architectural icons including the Carbide & Carbon Building, Marina City, and the Willis (the building formerly known as Sears) Tower.


The Chicago River and El train – two modes of transportation that made Chicago the industrial hub of 20th century America, are also in view. The office is within walking distance of the Merchandise Mart, home to dozens of showrooms for vendors, making it easy for designers to view materials, lighting, appliances, and other finishes in person.


Second City is Second to None

There are a lot of ways to know when you’re in Chicago – there’s Lake Shore Drive, the commotion of the El overhead, and the world-class skyline – but the city’s flag itself is unmissable, verging on omnipresent. White with light blue stripes and four red stars, it’s flown on every flagpole, posted inside every pub, and tattooed across a good number of shoulders, calves, and forearms. In short, Chicago loves its flag, so subdued versions of its bright colors serve as a sophisticated backdrop for the office. The six-pointed star is incorporated throughout the material choices: it’s hidden in the lattice of the custom shelves at each end of the open office, echoed in the textured tile on the kitchen backsplash, and enlarged for a tonal overlay on the presentation area wall and behind the collaboration panels. The presentation area also includes a subtle tonal graphic of the iconic Navy Pier Centennial Wheel, a nod to the city’s innovation in architecture and engineering.


Midcentury Minimalism

The architecture and design ethos of Mies van der Rohe was also used as inspiration: his classic material palette of black leather and chrome and unswerving dedication to orthogonal lines are incorporated throughout the office. In the lobby, visitors are greeted with a seating area – featuring Mies’s Barcelona chair, naturally, as well as a large slate grey rug inspired by the waves of Lake Michigan. Continuing further into the office, each conference room has a glass wall – maintaining transparency – with black grids breaking up the panes as an aesthetic callback to the city’s gridded street system. The grid system is also reflected in the light fixtures and suspended ceiling panels featured in the lobby and lounge. The largely neutral color scheme marries Corgan’s typical use of dark floors with light wood accents with the pared-back approach of the midcentury minimalists and Chicago’s industrial but classic character. Plants are interspersed throughout the office, a biophilic touch that echoes Chicago’s motto Urbs in Horto, or City in a Garden.


A Functional Footprint

The long, narrow office footprint is divided into an open office area on the north end and social, collaborative spaces at the south end of the office, overlooking the river. This layout allows employees to have equitable access to the best views in the office and keeps heads-down working areas away from the more active areas. The break room combines the kitchen, lounge, and material library in one large collaborative space that can be used for team meetings, presentations, or simply socializing during lunch. The material library and lounge area are both equipped with remote meeting capabilities, including an overhead camera for showcasing material palettes, allowing the Chicago team to effortlessly connect with both clients and the other Corgan offices.

The open work area is flooded with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling, western-facing windows. In addition to the phone room and private offices, it features a collaboration wall for pin-ups and brainstorming sessions and touchdown areas for more casual meetings near employee’s desks. Custom shelves bookend the space and will be a record of achievements as well as a place for inspiring design books, drawings, and architectural models.


A Fresh Start

Employee wellness and sustainability take the front seat at Corgan’s new office. AMA Plaza is a LEED-certified and Fitwel-certified building, and the office itself will be Fitwel certified. Due to the prime location – close to public transit and with a high walkability score – and the building’s gym, food service, and coffee shop in the lobby, the office already has a big boost toward earning its certification. Other features that enhance employees’ wellbeing include a private wellness room, natural light, and views to nature. Since the office is brand new, the material library gets to have a fresh start, and will be entirely red-list free, meaning every sample will be free of materials and chemicals that are known to be harmful to the health of humans and the environment.

The office offers employees a new place to connect, grow as designers, and develop relationships with clients, vendors, and contractors. As Corgan continues to expand its presence in the Midwest, the Chicago office symbolizes the firm’s investment in its clients in the region and its employees. 

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