Chicago Architecture Center
Award of Merit

Owner: Chicago Architecture Center
Lead Design Firm: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
General Contractor: Turner Construction Co.
Structural Engineer: WSP
MEP Engineer: Diligent Design Group
Owner’s Representative: CBRE
AV Design and Installation: Gand Sound

The transformation of a 20,000-sq-ft former retail space into an exhibit area and community event venue designed to celebrate and promote Chicago as a center of architectural innovation was continually challenged to stay within a $6-million budget during the eight-month construction phase. 

With the Chicago Architecture Center’s existing lease set to expire before the new space was ready, the construction schedule prioritized getting the revenue-generating retail area up and running, then focusing on completion of other project elements.

While using value engineering for millwork items would help control costs, the team had to work outside its comfort zone in order to achieve the necessary approvals as well as provide sufficient lead time for fabrication of the finished products. 

The project’s intricate audiovisual infrastructure required intense collaboration with multiple contractors and vendors. This included proper setup and testing of a scale model of Chicago with 4,250 buildings as well as a cinematic projector accompaniment. 

The addition of a new audiovisual vendor midway through the project required a rapid redesign of a gallery room and expedited drawing and component compatibility reviews to initiate system installation as quickly as possible. Turner also stepped in to integrate donated audiovisual equipment with the new building infrastructure.

The center provides the community with a high-tech lecture hall and gallery space with city views. The project had no lost-time incidents.

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