Design Achievement - Adjustable Forms, Inc., a cast-in-place concrete contractor, wanted the expansion and renovation of an existing office and warehouse facility to showcase the company’s work while expanding their own knowledge of concrete and its potential. DLR Group's design is a reflection of concrete as both a material and a process. Several methods of concrete construction are used to showcase the owner's technical ability: post-tension roof and floor slabs; full-height thermally broken and insulated sandwich walls; integrally colored, stamped, and polished concrete flooring; and traditional reinforced concrete. The design limited the materials used to provide a pure, minimalist aesthetic. Color, texture, and concrete mix were explored and experimented with throughout the design process. A high-performance rain screen system with dark zinc panels was used to bring a sophisticated contrast to exposed concrete massing. On the interior, daylighting is optimized with skylights and continuous perimeter glazing. LED lighting and radiant flooring are used throughout to maximize energy efficiency.
Scope Summary - This project encompassed design of an 8,000-SF, one-story office building, and 12,145-SF warehouse. The building includes offices for contractors, an employee lounge, collaboration areas, a specialized BIM room, a courtyard, and storage to house large concrete equipment. The office is designed to accommodate 16 full time employees. The project is LEED certified. DLR Group provided architectural design.
Concrete is used as a vehicle to explore and expand knowledge of the materials and process, with a focus on sustainability and purity of the materials.
- Create an enticing environment where people are excited to come to work
- Refresh and update Adustable Forms’ image and aesthetics so that it is modern and engaging
- Improve site design and storage to better serve Adjustable Forms’ daily functions
- Showcase Adjustable Forms’ expertise as concrete specialists
- Design centered around flexibility and enhanced communication and collaboration
- Focus on sustainability and building reuse
Sites neighboring the Adjustable Forms (AFI) building have been primarily industrial and manufacturing since its original construction, but recently the surrounding area has become a new focal point for business and educational traffic. To engage with this new development, the project has acted as a catalyst for pedestrian accessibility within the area, providing new full length sidewalks that bridge these new business’ and educational facilities. These allowed for a safer access for both the business and educational traffic in the area. The new building form and façade also present a distinct architectural character that further improves people’s experience of this area.
The building design is a reflection of concrete as a material and a process. Several methods of concrete construction are used to showcase the owner’s technical ability; including post-tensioning roof and floor slabs, full height thermally broken and insulated sandwich walls, form liner and board formed textured walls, integrally colored stamped and polished concrete flooring, and traditional reinforced concrete.
Color, texture, and concrete mix were explored and experimented with throughout the design process. The concrete mix for the exterior concrete contains a 40% slag mix. Several different form liner textures and true wood planks are used to achieve various levels of finish. The wood textures draw on the history of traditional methods of casting concrete.
Reinforcing elements are revealed in the form of a post-tension cable system that serves as a visible trellis system and a security wall application separating public and private. The design reuses the existing building’s elements such as structural piles, foundations, steel joists and columns, roof deck, and brick masonry walls. The existing concrete slabs were crushed and repurposed as granular fill material for new concrete and radiant floor systems through out the project.
Envelope: the architecture of daylighting and performance
A high performance rain screen system and solid panel system made of black zinc were used to bring a sophisticated contrast to the stark minimalist light colored concrete massing. On the interior, day-lighting is optimized with skylights and continuous glazing around the perimeter.
The perforated zinc panel sun screen system mitigates the harsh western sun in the late afternoons while providing a changing aesthetic as the sun moves across the sky. When the perforated panel has direct sunlight, it appears as a solid mass. As the direct sun fades away, the screen becomes translucent, exposing the interior of the building. Building signage is incorporated behind the perforated screen and has a playful dialogue as the transparency of the screen changes from day to night.
The zinc panel is an abstract representation of the form work being lifted from the concrete mass, what builders call “stripping the forms”. The exterior envelope presented a challenge and opportunity to create a unique detail. A cantilevered post-tensioned roof slab was used to allow for a continuous thermal and moisture break at the perimeter between interior and exterior concrete elements.
From inception, the design intent of AFI was to become a LEED Gold Certified building. To this end sustainability goals were defined at the predesign phase, dovetailing into an integrated design approach and a commitment to an energy efficient building from the entire project team. Extensive energy modeling was conducted throughout each phase resulting in an EUI of 63 kBtu/SF/yr, saving 27% against the LEED V3 baseline energy consumption for the building type and climatic region.
The roof top HVAC system supplies 30% additional outside air in order to improve occupant wellbeing, and was designed to include an economizer to take advantage of free cooling when outside conditions permit it. All occupied zones served by the roof top HVAC system are fitted with carbon dioxide sensors, allowing the HVAC system to turn down the amount of outside air delivered to the space when occupancy levels are reduced. All spaces are heated through an energy efficient radiant floor system, which supplies warmth at the occupied zone level to create localized occupant comfort. Decoupling this heating load from required ventilation air allows for improved efficiencies of operation. High performance envelope components and glazing minimize heat loss across external fluctuations in temperature.
The HVAC systems are linked back to a local building automation system with an intuitive user interface, which was used to commission and validate system performances before occupancy. High levels of glazing facilitate connectivity to outdoors, important for occupant satisfaction and productivity. All spaces also have LED and/or T5 lighting fixtures with occupant control in each space, with additional thermal controls in each multi occupant space.
All landscaping comprises native plantings, which eliminated the need for a permanent irrigation system. Low flow, automated fixtures were incorporated throughout, resulting in a 40% reduction in potable water use throughout the building. Parking levels provided did not exceed local code requirements and all hardscapes were of light coloring to minimize the heat island effect. Preferred parking is offered for fuel efficient vehicle and those carpooling, to minimize the use of personal automobiles.
A total of 20% of the building is reused from the existing structure, reducing the production of unnecessary waste and the need for virgin materials.
Distinguished Building Award
American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago
Association of Licensed Architects (ALA)
Chicago Building Congress
Engineering News Record (ENR) Midwest