Caffe Streets, Chicago, IL

Caffe Streets, Chicago, IL

Completed 2010

Located on Wicker Park’s vibrant Division Street, Caffe Streets balances a “social” coffee house atmosphere with a highly functional Masters Barista bar designed for craft coffee making.

Reinforcing the owner’s belief that the street is a vital component of our urban community, elements of the street are brought into the cafe.  As you enter, a seven foot tall photo light-box of the neighborhood’s famous six-corner intersection greets guests.  Above the chrome and dark wood of the coffee bar, the baristas’ work is illuminated by retrofitted Chicago streetlights while a wide storefront displays to the street the intimate 1,000 square foot interior space and backlit coffee bar.  The polished concrete floors underfoot physically and visually connect with the city sidewalks.

Marbled bamboo plywood also gives the space a sense of warmth reminiscent of the shop’s inspiration.  The plywood material is carried throughout the space, on the custom communal tables, chairs, wall paneling and the CNC-sculpted ceiling.  The layered ceiling is inspired by the baristas artistic pouring of steamed milk into coffee. The seating plan maximizes occupancy and circulation.  The traditional walk up espresso counter further encourages interaction and reaffirms the cafe’s symbiotic relationship with its community.

The coffee equipment that aids in brewing the perfect cup is further accented by the custom stainless steel “pour-over” bar counter while the unusual brewing devices on display create a laboratory setting.  The notion of perfecting the product is a recurring theme in Caffe Streets.

2136-2150 W North Ave., Chicago, IL

2136-2150 W North Ave., Chicago, IL

Completed Fall 2008

Consultants: Structural Engineer - Louis Shell Structures

The project includes the adaptive re-use of Association House, an existing 100-year old structure in Chicago's landmarked Wicker Park district and the development of seven adjacent lots with new construction mixed-use buildings.

Situated a block from Wicker Park's primary commercial intersection, the site has strong commercial value as well as strong residential potential.  To respect the historic integrity of Association House and the neighborhood, a voluntary front yard zoning setback was created to preserve the historic site line of the existing building and to provide public green space.

An interpretation of the hip roof was employed to soften the presence of a fourth floor, reducing the street wall effect and to further assimilate with the neighborhood.

Historic materials such as zinc coated copper and red brick are used in a decidedly modern approach to be contextual without replicating the surroundings.

NA saw the construction of these three new buildings as an opportunity for a collective experience.  To add vitality to each building and create a distinctive whole, IIT Architecture Professor, Randy Kober and Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen of Urban Lab were invited to serve as design architects for the 3-unit and 6-unit building.

Situated a block from Wicker Park's primary commercial intersection, the site has strong commercial value as well as strong residential potential.  To respect the historic integrity of Association House and the neighborhood, a voluntary front yard zoning setback was created to preserve the historic site line of the existing building and to provide public green space.