Allsteel & Gunlocke Showroom – Chicago

  • ,
  • Client Allsteel, Gunlocke,
  • size 20,000 sqft
  • Year 2019
  • Location Chicago, Illinois, United States,
  • Industry Furniture,
  • Charlie Greene Studio and T Clifton Design have designed the WELL-focused Allsteel & Gunlocke Merchandise Mart showroom located in Chicago, Illinois.

    Allsteel and Gunlocke believe in designing for humans. Their design philosophy takes into consideration what workers need in order to work in a healthy and productive way, and how to support them physically, mentally, and emotionally. The Chicago showroom was designed to address these various factors – from air and light to physical and mental comfort – that go into designing a space for wellness. As such, the WELL Building Standard program was intuitive to the design of the space.

    The Chicago Allsteel | Gunlocke showroom is located inside the Merchandise Mart. Being an older building built in the 1930s, Allsteel and Gunlocke encountered some challenges with the HVAC system, lighting, and building materials. Harmful building materials can impact the indoor air quality of a space. Allsteel and Gunlocke learned that some light fixtures in the space, like the Exit signs, contained mercury and were not allowed by WELL. They updated the Exit signs and other fixtures and bulbs to LED or mercury-free products and implemented policies to specify mercury-free, which ensures a safer environment for workers and guests.

    Due to theMART’s size and layout, the showroom is too deep to meet the natural light features in WELL. The space was designed to maximize access to natural light. Next to the windows is an open community lounge and café space, rather than private offices and conference rooms. Throughout the space, panel heights are kept low and designed clusters of glass-walled conference and touchdown rooms allow access to views, but do not impede the views of others at workstations. The design allows everyone in the space access to natural light and views which improves moods, productivity, and circadian rhythms.

    While addressing thermal comfort, it was discovered that the HVAC system was not delivering the right amount of air to the space. Allsteel and Gunlocke worked with theMART and a local MEP consultant to identify the fixes needed to help the system operate properly.

    The Merchandise Mart also places a priority on operating a sustainable building and they recently achieved LEED O+M Gold certification in 2018. Updates made to theMART’s building systems, like using MERV13 air filters, remediating and encapsulating harmful building materials, and offering green cleaning services, ultimately helped the showroom achieve its WELL goals.

    The Allsteel | Gunlocke Chicago showroom places a heavy focus on wellness and the needs of workers in a way that has created an agile and flexible workspace to promote job satisfaction and productivity. Backed by research, the showroom placed emphasis on a number of wellness techniques. The space provides access to a variety of spaces, individuals are able to adjust their environments and choose their degree of engagement. Research has shown that having this choice is associated with higher job satisfaction and group cohesiveness.

    Adding biophilic elements, like plants and natural materials to a space helps to reduce stress while improving learning, healing, and worker productivity. Products with screens allow for the feeling of privacy while seated or standing. Noise is still a common complaint in the office setting – regardless of whether there are panels or open plan workstations. Having small rooms for individuals to remove or reduce conversational noise can be beneficial to coworkers, while providing some privacy for the individual.

    Conference rooms do not have to jeopardize window space. Using glass walls gives employees access to views in workstations and collaborative areas and contributes to organizational transparency.

    Dynamic, full-body movement is an important element of a healthy work style. Changing postures frequently throughout the day is one way that employees can increase their movement. Providing ergonomic furniture at workstations is key, along with designing community spaces that encourage movement and support different postures. Soft seating can offer destinations for individuals to walk to and allow them to sit in different postures— introducing movement into the work environment and fostering health.

    DesignCharlie Greene Studio and T Clifton Design
    Photography: courtesy of Allsteel & Gunlocke