Architecture/Interior design/Lighting design: Alvisi Kirimoto
Furnishings: Carl Hansen, Christopher Glass & Aluminum, Halcon, Herman Miller, Knoll, Parenti & Raffaelli; custom tables manufactured by B&B Italia, De Padova, Driade, Halcon; Japanese lacquered table top designed by Alvisi Kirimoto, manufactured by Wajima Kirimoto
Lighting: Artemide, Fabbian, Focal Point, iGuzzini, Kenall, Juno, MP Lighting, SSL Lighting, Tech Lighting, Usai, Vibia
Bathrooms: Caesarstone, Kohler, Toto, Virginia Tile
Ceilings: Armstrong, Hi-Macs, Maharam, Okite
Walls: Hickory, Maharam, Parenti & Raffaelli; rice wallpaper panels Ginrei-Washi
Carpets: Bloomsburg, Silver Creek Carpet
Plastic laminate: Abet Laminati
Fabrics: Maharam; leather manufactured by Edelman
Winter Garden sculpture: Ueno Masao
Photo credits: Nic Lehoux
Outside, the Chicago River flows through the heart of the city. Inside, the large spaces ‘breathe’ the emptiness, in the positive sense of ‘non-fullness,’ allowing the full-height windows to draw the urban context inward, filtered by an almost spiritual atmosphere. An intake of metropolitan dynamism, in just the time of decompression required for the voyage from the ground floor to the 32nd, softened by sensitive architecture and the presence of the art collection of the client, arranged in a viewing itinerary of over 1000 square meters. This is the project created by the Rome-based studio Alvisi Kirimoto for the new managerial offices (the client wishes to remain anonymous) occupying the entire 32nd floor – 2600 square meters in all – of a skyscraper with a height of 224 meters in the lively ex-industrial area of the West Loop, in Chicago. The stylistic identity of Massimo Alvisi and Junko Kirimoto immediately emerges, thanks to its focus on the urban and social dimensions, attention to detail, rigor and a tailor-made approach, also in dialogue with nature and regeneration. “When you emerge from the elevators on the 32nd floor – the architects say – you have the sensation of being plunged back into the city – at a different height, from a different perspective, of course, but still in contact with the streets of Chicago. It is precisely the layout of the city, with its surprises, that we have projected into this space: one walks amidst works of contemporary and oriental art and archaeology, surprised from time to time by strong colors of two-story areas, unusual for a skyscraper, guided by the fast-paced rhythm of partitions, lights, visual axes. The first guideline, in fact, was to enhance these perspectives, leaving the corners unencumbered to always have visual contact with the city.”
In terms of the plan, the two faces of Chicago – urban on one side, territorial on the other – are viewed from two opposite areas: the southern front, containing the functions of image and encounter, such as the reception area, the meeting rooms, the Winter Garden, exhibition spaces and a restaurant zone, and the back, facing north, containing private offices and lounge areas. The main axes of the project are defined by wooden partitions that dematerialize in vertical blades to gauge the level of privacy and luminosity, while glass partitions and suspended panels, in various combinations, set off the individual work areas. A solution of great flexibility and transparency, permitting visitors and staff to enjoy a breathtaking panorama, also in the more private spaces bordered by opaque surfaces.
The height of the ceilings – 3.6 meters, exceptional for an office – has allowed the designers to alternate suspended elements like fabric panels with sculptural elements placed on the floor, left at their original height. A game of compression and suspension that culminates in the volume of the Winter Garden, the heart of the project. A ‘box of light,’ almost suspended, created to host music, art, events for meditation and reading, containing a hanging sculpture in bamboo created for the site by the Japanese artist Ueno Masao, and a table designed by Junko Kirimoto with Japanese lacquer finish. Here too, a system of double darkening and filtering curtains, together with wooden staves, makes it possible to orient and distribute light as desired. The entire project takes a tailor-made approach: from the custom furnishings like the workstations and dining tables to the arrangement and choice of hue of the lighting fixtures, all the way to the deployment of colors for various functions.