Fantastic Presenters for Hot Topics at Neocon 2016 Rada Doytcheva and Aram Garbooshian from RADA Architects with Lighting Designer, Shanna Olson from KJWW (W312)

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This was a case for the role of kinetic lighting in creating identity or rebranding of existing buildings in an urban environment. Integrating architectural features with enhanced lighting technologies helped the big “comeback” of 400EAST (Outer Drive East) – one of the first high rise apartment/ mixed use structures in Chicago from the 60s.

Kinetic light as an Urban marker was used at Clybourn Point – a RADA project leading the way in the transformation of Cabrini Green area.

Designers told the story of Chicago inner city colleges classrooms designed to take advantage of the colored changing light for student energizing and draw to tough STEM subject. Advanced in LEDs technology and controls was the focus of Shanna’s talk, with dynamic demos and audience poll during and after presentation.

Says Rada: “Good building stock created in the 60ies and 70ies, requires us to put all our creativity and known technology – to use – in order to save buildings from the wrecking ball. A true commitment to sustainability would involve exploring reuse and revitalization, before expending significant resources to replace buildings.”


RADA Architects Designers for CPS Admin Center and Jonathan Fine, Former CPS Design Manager From a Midcentury Modern School to a 21st Century Office (T320)

Chicago Public School’s decision to decommission administrative space and move staff, coupled with the recent closing of over 50 schools in the city, led to the adaptive re-use project of the former dodge School in Garfield Park. The transformation of the aged structure into a twenty-first century workplace set a standard for approaching other closed schools and showed how reuse and urban revitalization can go hand in hand.

The biggest challenge was to carve out from the school’s cave-like corridors – a modern workplace environment. The new space is open and vast, with abundant daylight and color splashes along the main circulation spine. The office plan is based on “neighborhoods” of departments with collaborative and shared areas along the internal street/main circulation. CPS also decided on a large training and conferencing part of the project, finally accommodating 300 people working in the building. The site itself was reimagined as well. The former parking lot was converted into a more plaza-like area, covered with permeable pavers and lined with benches and trees. The building brings new life to the area; with the increased presence of people and feeling of safety, the site has become an urban center and is an active attribute to the renewal of this area.

The project was completed and built within a brief six-month time period, tremendously accelerating the pace of design decisions and coordination between parties. The CPS Facilities’ Jonathan Fine, the A/E team led by RADA Architects and  K.R. Miller Contractors worked closely and intensely for optimal and on time results.

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