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Holabird & Root Named Finalist for CBC Merit Award

The team of Northwestern University, Holabird & Root, and Norcon Construction were named a finalist for the CBC Merit Award Interior Build-Out of Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools. The renovation is comprised of classroom space, student study space, reception, and staff office space. Three classrooms including one 48-student classroom and two 24-student classrooms support the student learning experience. Each classroom is enhanced with cutting edge digital display technology that uses a touchscreen interface to facilitate student interaction.  Study areas include a variety of seating types and access to whiteboard and pin-up space for collaboration and study sessions outside of the classroom. Six faculty/staff offices, a conference room, a small number of meeting rooms for faculty to meet with students and parents, and reception space is also included in the project.


For more information on Northwestern Academy and the CBC Merit Awards visit,

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Holabird & Root Announces Promotion Of Rusty Walker

Holabird & Root is pleased to announce the promotion of Rusty Walker, AIA, LEED AP to Principal.

Walker, a graduate of Northeastern University and Rice University, joined Holabird & Root in 2006 after working with Perkins+Will. Since arriving, he has served as the lead project designer on numerous project types, including affordable, senior, student, and market-rate housing buildings; higher education facilities; sports and recreation centers; master plans; and others.

Most recently, he led the design of the award-winning East-West University Student Life Center, a 17-story, mixed-use tower located in Chicago’s South Loop. The new high-rise provides the University with its first student residences along with several academic and social amenities. He also led the design of the Public Building Commission’s Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Addition, which was bestowed the 2016 Chicago Building Congress/Construction Owners Association of America (COAA) Project of the Year Award.

“We’re thrilled that Rusty will be the next design leader of our historic practice,” said Managing Principal Greg Cook.  “Since joining Holabird & Root, Rusty has demonstrated the enthusiasm to connect with clients and design ingenuity to create distinguished buildings and spaces.   We feel Rusty is best suited to not only mentor and lead our young designers, but that his diverse and extensive portfolio of experience will help grow our business and reach new opportunities.”

Rusty is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is a LEED Accredited Professional. 

Holabird & Root is a Chicago-based architecture, engineering, interior design, and graphic illustration firm. Since its founding in 1880, Holabird & Root has been recognized for its history of translating complex challenges into thoughtful solutions for clients in the academic, government, cultural and civic, and corporate markets. Holabird & Root celebrates over 135 years of professional service, innovative design, advanced technology, and collaboration. 

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Holabird & Root Joins Architects Advocate

Since the launching of Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change, Holabird & Root has joined forces with other leading Architecture firms in Chicago and around the country, to be a voice that supports meaningful legislation/policy to mitigate climate change.

Consisting of over 112 architecture and design firms, primarily from Chicago, that are speaking out publicly to end climate control, Architects Advocate is tasked with supporting healthy spaces and livable cities, and guide action towards responsible communities.

Within the last century, the U.S. has seen 14 out of the 15 warmest years on record. With the irreversible impacts of climate change overshadowing other environmental threats, this is the one issue where we can band together to have a positive impact on the built environment. Multiple studies have shown that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are due to human activities. With architects’ commitment to designing responsibly, we can secure the future for coming generations.

It is the goal of Holabird & Root to contribute positively to a healthy and sustainable built environment.

For more information about Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change, please visit


Holabird & Root Completes Northwestern Academy Renovations

Holabird & Root recently completed the 6,600-SF renovation of the 16th Floor of Northwestern University's Abbott Hall to serve Northwestern Academy.

Northwestern Academy is an enrichment program developed by the University to serve academically talented and motivated students from Chicago Public Schools.  The renovation includes classroom space, student study space, reception, and staff office space. One 48-student classroom and two 24-student classrooms were created.  Each classroom is fitted with cutting edge digital display technology that uses a touchscreen interface to facilitate student interaction.  Study areas include a variety of seating types and access to digital displays, whiteboard, and pin-up space for collaboration and study sessions outside of the classroom.  

Six faculty/staff offices, a conference room, a small number of meeting rooms for faculty to meet with students and parents, and reception space were also included in the project.

Holabird & Root conducted visioning sessions with the University and students from Northwestern Academy to arrive at a shared vision for the project.

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Holabird & Root Announces the Passing of Ernie Wagner

It is with great sorrow that Holabird & Root announces the passing of Associate Principal Ernie Wagner, AIA, LEED AP.   

Ernie spent over 35 years with Holabird & Root, providing invaluable leadership to the firm.  He was one of the firm's most accomplished project managers.  Ernie led and provided mentorship to Holabird & Root's group of science and laboratory planners and designers since the early 1980s. He contributed to many of the firm's landmark projects, including St. Olaf College's Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Beloit College's Center for the Sciences, Grinnell College's Noyce Science Center, and many others.  Additionally, he was actively involved in a number of organizations, ranging from the American Institute of Architects, Project Kaleidoscope, and more.  His passion for architecture, the insights he provided, and his joy for working with clients and mentoring colleagues will be missed.  

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H&R Announces the Promotion of Mat Strack to PA

We are pleased to announce the internal promotion of Mat Strack to Project Architect. Mat Strack, RA, has been with Holabird & Root for the past 4 years. Mat holds a Bachelor of Architectural Studies with highest honors as well as  Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois. He has been influential in serving such clients as East-West University, Harper College, Knox College, and St. Francis University.

Mat is one of Holabird & Root’s greatest young talents. He has quickly become known for his dedication, insight, and intelligence. While completing his formal education, Mat was the recipient of several awards and was a nominee for the Chicago Prize Design Award several times.

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Dorchester Terrace Residence to Start Construction Next Month

Sifton Properties' Dorchester Terrace is a 90,000 sq.ft. retirement home set to reside in a small community in Dorchester, Ontario. A new retirement home is much needed due to the rise in population of recently retired community members. Holabird & Root was commissioned to design a 92-unit structure on a three-acre parcel of land surrounded by a dense single family residential area. The design includes an inviting oasis is created at the main entry to the building and gives a sense of gathering space on the exterior. 

Some of the amenities on the main level include a large dining hall, a gym, hydrotherapy pool area, a cafe, and a hair salon. The residents enjoy exterior spaces adjacent to the dining hall and a walking track throughout the entire parcel. An abundance of parking is utilized by the staff, visitors, and residents. EMCAD Consulting Engineers will provide MEP/FP engineering, with structural engineering provided by Van Boxmeer & Stranges Engineering,  civil engineering by CF Crozier & Associates, and landscape architecture by Ron Koudys Landscape Architects. Holabird & Root Team members include Rusty Walker, Greg Marinelli, Cindy Schneider, Mat Strack, and Jim Miller. 

Construction for the retirement home is slated to start next month with occupied completion projected for October of 2016. 

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H&R Wins Outstanding Project Award for East-West University

Holabird & Root has received an Outstanding Project Award for outstanding educational facility design in the Fall 2015 edition of Learning by Design, the premier bi-annual guide that showcases innovative school and university design and construction projects. The East-West University Student Life Center has been recognized by Learning By Design Magazine for its architectural design and for having attributes worthy of emulation. 

Learning By Design judges commended Holabird & Root for its success in designing the East-West University Student Life Center. The peer-reviewed jury thought highly of the building design. Projects such as the East-West University Student Life Center are judged on six criteria: Innovation, Community Need, Interior Design, Sustainability, Functional Design, and 21st Century Learning. The Jury commented on the "Nicely organized plans and sections...Massing is broken down well to embrace but not overwhelm urban context." Projects that exemplify contemporary standards and contain design attributes that one might emulate in a new space design are recognized as Outstanding.  Learning By Design, published in the Spring and Fall of each year, circulates to more than 50,000 leaders and decision makers at all levels of education--from early childhood and elementary schools to career-technical, college, and university-level institutions.  (Taken from original Learning By Design press release by Mark Goodman)

The East-West University Student Life Center is a 165,000 sq.ft., mixed-use urban campus in Chicago’s South Loop. Standing at 17 stories, the campus addition is composed of two main programmatic blocks; 7 stories of academic and administrative program and 10 stories of student housing. The new construction project was undertaken to support the University’s growing student population and expanding academic programs, while addressing the pressures of providing new amenities to stay competitive with their peer institutions.

Click the image below to read the full article:



Come Visit Holabird & Root Offices During 5th Annual Open House Chicago!

Holabird & Root offices will be open for tours 9am-5pm on October 17th and 18th as an official site for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Fifth Annual Open House Chicago (OHC). OHC is a free event that takes the public behind the scenes of 200 of the city’s greatest spaces and places. In addition to Holabird & Root offices being open for exploration, visitors are able to stop at several other legacy sites featuring our firm's original and renovated work. Click HERE for more information on our site.

In 2014, 75,000 people from all 50 states and 91 countries participated in the two-day OHC event, for a total of 285,000 site visits. CAF inspires people to discover why design matters. OHC gives residents and visitors access to buildings that tell the stories of Chicago communities and cultures. 

Learn more and explore at

Holabird & Root
Marquette Building
140 South Dearborn Street
Suite 500
Chicago, Illinois 60603


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ChicagoCAC New Addition Awarded LEED Certification

Holabird & Root is pleased to learn that the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center (CCAC) has achieved LEED Gold certification. Our firm provided the design for the 18,900 sq.ft. addition that was completed in conjunction with the Public Building Commission this past spring.

"LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program overseen by the U.S. Green Building Council (UCGBC) that, according to USGBC, recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. LEED certification is recognized across the globe as the premier mark of achievement in green building.

Buildings that undergo LEED certification are evaluated by a rating system that measures the overall sustainability of the project site, energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental and air quality, and the use of sustainable materials and resources."

Read the full press release here.


H&R Wins ALA Silver Award for NU Law School Atrium Addition

Holabird & Root's recent design of the Northwestern University School of Law Atrium Addition has been named a Silver Award Winner by the Association of Licensed Architects through their 2015 Design Awards Program. Our firm is honored to have won this esteemed award and we are indebted to Northwestern University Law School for thier continued partnership.

Founded in 1859, Northwestern University School of Law advances the understanding of law and produces graduates prepared to excel in a rapidly changing world. Northwestern Law uniquely blends a rigorous intellectual environment with a collegial and supportive community. Holabird & Root has continued its long-standing relationship with this prestigious Chicago School of Law by most recently being given the opportunity to provide programming and an addition and renovation to its atrium, which was completed this past spring.  The three-story atrium addition boasts a new two-story space adjacent to the expanded café, utilized as multi-purpose space for student study, events, and collaboration. New state-of-the art flip classrooms and student study areas are both open and private to foster interaction among law students. The area of new construction was 4,941-s.f., with additional renovation of 15,600-s.f. to existing adjacent floors and a mechanical penthouse. The program includes a revamped café that solves the circulation, queuing, and storage capacity problems of the existing arrangement, and lounge seating area with direct access to a new outdoor terrace, new classroom space, shared student study rooms, and open study tables with lounge seating. The renovated spaces included a faculty office suite, library circulation and reference desk, and additional study space. The double-height seating area occupies a space physically separate from the cafe so the seating can be used for lectures, meetings, and other similar events even when the café is not in operation. The second floor provides a critical connection between the two main existing structures near the south face of the new addition that creates a continuous circulation loop through the campus.  This connection traverses enclosed group study areas and a series of study balconies overlooking the café seating below. The third floor also connects to the existing library and adds group study rooms to the existing program. H&R originally designed the 360,000-s.f. facility, which houses a major addition to the Law School, including its library. 

The 1,000 sf site for the new addition is located between the McCormick Building, a 1950’s Holabird & Root Project, and the Rubloff building which was designed by Holabird & Root in the 1980’s.  The new structure was tied to the Rubloff building’s steel frame, but was designed to float independently from The McCormick building’s limestone-concrete and wood-pile structure despite a new, continuous circulation loop that links the three structures at the second floor.  The floor levels and floor-to-floor heights do not align between Rubloff and McCormick, and so the atrium expansion also needed to navigate these elevation changes.  Finally, The existing, recessed atrium space created a break between the Limestone façade of McCormick and the glass, steel, and granite façade of Rubloff which the new project would infill.  The response was to project the second and third floors of our addition beyond the neighboring facades to maintain the break in plane and to extend a new, granite terrace space and steel canopy from beneath the addition’s projecting façade, which wraps the adjacent Rubloff façade.  While we removed all of the Rubloff façade within the volume of our new addition we were able to maintain and expose the existing limestone wall of McCormick as a feature of the new lounge and classroom spaces.

The new addition is a steel-framed structure with a structurally glazed, triple-pane glass and aluminum curtain wall, and a granite material palette.  The interior space features extensive millwork, felt wallcoverings, carpet, and terrazzo floors.  As part of the project the air handling equipment in the McCormick building penthouse was replaced with new, more efficient equipment which serves not only the new addition, but the surrounding historical structures as well. From the exterior, the new atrium addition extends south toward the street.  This, in-conjunction with the abundant use of glass, provides the Law School with an iconic presence to those passing by the building.  Occupants within the space are provided with panoramic views to nearby Lake Michigan and the city.  With the inclusion of an outdoor terrace directly adjacent to the café, the City of Chicago serves as an extension of the classroom, providing NU Law students with a connection to the lake and everything the City has to offer. The resulting design provided the University with a number of new spaces for modern Law instruction, enhanced the productivity and satisfaction of occupants, further enriched the collaborative atmosphere sought by Law students, and created a new image for the institution.  

Holabird & Root team members on this project include Project Designer Rusty Walker, Project Manager Jan Behounek, Project Architect Cory Kamholz, Project Coordinator Max Hanisch, Principal in Charge Jim Miller, Graphic Designer Hye-Yeon Cho, Senior Interior Designer Andrea Caputo, and Interior Designer Erin Masters, with contractor services provided by Norcon, Inc.

The Association of Licensed Architects (ALA) is an organization open to all architects and professions related to architecture. It represents architects registered or licensed in any state, territory or possession of the United States or foreign country. The ALA Design Awards Program is an annual showcase of the power of design by members. Winners are highlighted in the Winter issue of Licensed Architect magazine. 

Images courtesy of John Steinkamp Photography.


H&R Wins ALA Merit Award for Simpson Technologies Design

We are pleased to announce that Holabird & Root's design of the Simpson Technologies office buildout has been selected as a Merit Award Winner by the Association of Licensed Architects through their 2015 Design Awards Program. Our firm is very excited to be nominated for this prestigious award and we are very grateful to the Simpson Group for being an exceptional client and affording the firm this opportunity.

Headquartered in Aurora, Illinois, Simpson Technologies is an international engineering company with offices around the world and they are seen as an innovator in process and control technology for the global foundry and chemical process industries. This past year, Holabird & Root was selected to complete a two-phase remodel of their interior office environment with the goal of creating a space that will help attract and retain young engineering talent and appeal to an audience of international clientele and business partners.

The first phase of contracted renovations consisted of changing the location of the breakroom to the exterior wall, moving the boardroom to be in an interior space, and renovating the lobby. Glass walls were used to bring light into the interior workspace. The desired outcome was also to make an ideal breakroom for people to enjoy, and it includes a TV with video games, foosball table, lounge and table seating. It’s also a place for all-company meetings. The breakroom is positioned along an outside wall with access to a patio space and views of a pond. In the boardroom, a video conferencing technology was added for easy communications with Simpson's Swiss office. In reception, a timeline of the company was added as well as “vintage” original pieces of equipment that the company makes. The design also opened up the ceiling in these areas to create more of a loft feel.  Materials used included glass, polished concrete, carpeting and wood.  The ceiling in the breakroom features an exposed steel structure with canted acoustical clouds to control noise.  Wood laminate and solid surface millwork define the pantry and bar space while carpeting and custom steel and glass tables define the lounge end of the room. In the boardroom, a perforated wood screen defines the ceiling and the separation between the main meeting area and a galley kitchenette, used for catering setup and beverage service.  The boardroom also features a small-scale lounge area and writable wall surfaces.  Both the boardroom and the breakroom use full height, glazed, demountable partitions that both accelerated the installation schedule and reduced on-site waste.  The mechanical systems in the building are existing and in good working order, so no major changes were made.  The entry lobby features a custom graphic timeline highlighting the history of this family-owned company alongside some of their specialized equipment.  A carpeted area and ceiling cloud define a sitting area while the remainder of the space shows off the building’s exposed structure and polished concrete floor. The entirety of the work completed for the renovation of these spaces in this office buildout took place over a time span of three months, during which employee work continued regularly. This company stayed fully occupied and active during the entirety of the renovation and remodel.

Team members on this project include Senior Interior Designer Andrea Caputo, Architectural Designer Cory Kamholz, Project Coordinator Tara Churchill, and Principal in Charge Jim Miller from Holabird & Root, with construction contract services by Leopardo. 

The Association of Licensed Architects (ALA) is an organization open to all architects and professions related to architecture. It represents architects registered or licensed in any state, territory or possession of the United States or foreign country. The ALA Design Awards Program is an annual showcase of the power of design by members. Winners are highlighted in the Winter issue of Licensed Architect magazine. 

Images courtesy of Noel Davis Photography.

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Holabird & Root Wraps Work at Denovo Group Corporate Offices

Holabird & Root recently completed the buildout of the new corporate headquarters for the Denovo Group, which now comprises over 20,000 sq. ft. of office space on Wacker Drive.  

The space was formerly occupied by a downtown University and the new design for Denovo transformed the existing layout from a light-deprived series of corridors to an open, contemporary office space that captures views of the Chicago River.  

The design features a new entry lobby and logo wall that establishes Denovo’s identity and brand at the corridor, and welcomes visitors into the new office space.  

The project also includes a mix of large private offices for the managing directors, a series of staff offices, and modular workspace for employees who spend most of their time out of the office.  The design made use of demountable glass partitions to give the project a clean and open look.  Since the partitions were manufactured off site, they also facilitated project phasing and the acceleration of the overall schedule.  The result is an effective use of existing conditions mixed with new elements that provide Denovo with the clean looking, contemporary office they desired.

Senior Interior Designer Andrea Caputo, Project Designer Cory Kamholz, and Interior Designer Erin Patterson served as key team members on this buildout.

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Holabird & Root Takes on Women Build 2015

On Thursday, July 16, twelve women of Holabird & Root headed out to the neighborhood of West Pullman to participate in the 2015 Windy City Women Build for Habitat for Humanity. Housing problems, from cost burden to unsafe conditions, have a tremendous impact on families’ bottom lines and can trigger poverty and homelessness. Women are particularly vulnerable to poverty across their lifespan. Unequal wages, time-consuming care giving responsibilities, and small retirement cushions all make maintaining decent housing a huge challenge for many female-led households. 41.2% of Illinois female-led households with children and no spouse are in poverty; more than double that of male-headed households with children. At minimum wage, a woman would need to work an impossible 91 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Cook County. Together, we raised over $4500 towards this effort. Thank you for supporting the women of Holabird & Root in our endeavor to provide affordable, safe housing for a female-led family in need. 

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Northwestern University Produces Atrium Expansion Video

Check out the video Northwestern University produced discussing the impact of Holabird & Root's addition to their Law School; click below:


US Builder’s Review Runs Complete Feature on Holabird & Root

Holabird & Root is pleased to be the main feature in this recent issue of US Builder's Review. Click below to read Jeanee Dudley and Linsday Jeffries' take on our 135-year old firm, where they highlight strong capabilities, a growing portfolio, and staying a step ahead!



Holabird & Root Wins Clinical Performance Center at UIC

Holabird & Root, in association with the S/L/A/M Collaborative, was recently awarded the new Clinical Performance Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Mile Square Health Center. This joint team will provide a state-of-the-art center that will include interactive learning and technology as more effective means to prepare students in technical learning and communicative skills. Holabird & Root will serve as Prime Architect, providing interior design and signage/wayfinding services, while S/L/A/M will serve as Design Architect and provide medical education programming and planning. The project (22,000 GSF) will include architectural build-out and interior finishes, MEP/FP infrastructure, furniture, fixtures, office space, IT, ET, AV, medical and simulation equipment, and departmental wayfinding and room signage. The program for the build-out incorporates inpatient, outpatient, ICU, OR, and standard patient simulation suites, classrooms, and procedural skills labs. The entire build-out and systems are set to be designed to achieve LEED Silver certification. 

The team from Holabird & Root includes Principal in Charge James Baird, Project Manager Dennis Vovos, Project Architect Kevin Boyer, Graphic Designer Hye-Yeon Cho, and Interior Designer Erin Masters. Programming is currently underway and construction is set to start in October 2016.

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Holabird & Root Completes Lobby Design at 205 W. Wacker

The newly redesigned lobby at 205 W. Wacker is complete and open. Ameritus purchased the building in July of 2013 and subsequently hired Holabird & Root as the prime designer to provide corridor upgrades, space planning, tenant buildouts, and to complete the lobby redesign. There are currently several ongoing buildouts to office spaces throughout the building for which Holabird & Root's interiors team is providing prime design services, including the offices for the Chicago branding agency Soulsight, specialty finance company Omnisure, and the boutique public relationtions agency Henson Consulting. The lobby was designed by Associate and Project Designer Cory Kamholz, with furniture and finishes provided by Lead Interior Designer and Associate Andrea Caputo, and Cindy Schneider served as Project Architect.

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H&R Wins Law School Master Plan at NU

Holabird & Root was recently awarded the Law School Campus Master Plan project at Northwestern University.  The firm has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the prestigious Big Ten School for several years and is currently wrapping up construction of the new Rubloff Atrium Addition. Also currently underway is H&R's renovation and redesign of the 16th floor of Abbott Hall for Northwestern Academy. The Law School Campus Master Plan project will include developing a Master Plan for the Law Library, a Master Plan for the School of Law Administrative and Support Functions, a comprehensive program for each, and creating a range of design scenarios for the School of Law Complex.  Team members for this design will include Principal James Baird, Project Manager Jan Behounek, Project Designer Rusty Walker, and Project Coordinator Max Hanisch.

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Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Celebrates Grand Opening

Team members of Holabird & Root Celebrated on Thursday joining the staff and leadership of the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center in their ribbon cutting to celebrate the grand opening of their new addition.

H&R was commissioned to design and develop onto the existing facility. Finished and occupied in the spring of this year, the two-story addition is approximately 18,900 S.F., almost doubling the size of the existing facility. Holabird & Root worked closely with the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center to plan the facility in a way that would enhance its daily operations and reflect its mission and values, while most efficiently utilizing space for the organization’s functions. 

Featured in these images are Holabird & Root Team members, Designer Rusty Walker (left image), Project Manager Jan Behounek (center), and Project Architect Camille Yu (left). Other key team members on this project included Principal in Charge Jim Miller and Structural Engineer Tom Harrison. 

The Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center is an innovative facility that co-houses all the City and State agencies that investigate allegations of sexual abuse of children and a not-for-profit agency that provides social services to the child victims and their families. 

More Information about the Chicago CAC organization can be found here: