The 11 Coolest Offices in Chicago 2018
Workspaces have never felt homier than they do in 2018. Call it a ploy to reverse the growing working-from-home trend or the influence of the hospitality world, but office bragging rights these days are all about intimate seating areas, curated objects, fully loaded kitchens (and cafes) and flexible floor plans that can easily be rejiggered to entertain staff and guests. A common thread among big companies is riser seating that can double as hangouts and companywide meeting space. (Because why have huge conference rooms that sit empty most of the year, just like those dining rooms that we no longer use in our houses?) This year’s Coolest Offices, narrowed down from 78 nominations to 11 winners by Crain’s Assistant Managing Editor Jan Parr, freelance art director Megan Duffy Rostan and interior designer Greg Jagmin, all seem to invite you to come in and stay awhile. And yes, work, but also feel at home.
Uptown / Real estate developer
About four years ago, CedarSt purchased the Lawrence House, an art deco gem in Uptown that was a residential hotel in the 1920s. The company converted it to an apartment complex called the Flats and rented out the street-level storefronts. Having worked in various offices across Uptown, the staff at CedarSt early in 2018 decided it was time to come together under one roof—at Lawrence House—and Creative Director Heather Fritz headed up the design. She started with restoring the original green terrazzo floors in the lobby and went from there, creating an homage to the historic property with everything from reupholstered vintage furniture to old photos of the building and salvaged artifacts, such as brass door knockers that now hang in the lobby. Private offices with frosted-glass walls that look like windows surround an open work area with wood-paneled ceilings. There is also an intimate phone booth and multiple meeting spaces, including a secret one that can only be accessed through a wallpaper-covered entrance inside Lawrence House Flats. (With dark tones, plush seating and a minibar, it is the most popular meeting room, according to Fritz.) The kitchen, located just off the lobby, feels like it belongs in a house. “The kitchen is the center of family life, and this is work family, so we made it a central place everyone can enjoy,” Fritz says.
Crain’s Chicago Business | Gina Bazer
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