Industrial Living - Design Bureau

The Doblin House

Valerio Dewalt Train AssociatesValerio Dewalt Train Associates

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

1401 State Street

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

Industrial Living

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Chicago-based architecture firm Valerio Dewalt Train Associates’ portfolio features a remarkable range of work, from the luxurious Sixteen restaurant in the Trump Hotel to campuses for corporate giants like eBay and Google. So making the shift to minimalist, stripped-down residential design work required a new level of creativity and commitment for the firm.

Valerio wanted to do something dramatic with The Doblin House project, so he took the shell of a dilapidated 1940s-era factory that had previously housed a silk-screen T-shirt company and decided to transform it into a private home. The problem was that since it had been abandoned, the roof had fallen in and pushed the exterior walls outward, making the frame very unstable. Although the architects couldn’t salvage this part of the front façade, they installed two galvanized metal scissor doors, which were in line with the neighborhood’s industrial-meets-residential vibe and maintained the factory appeal. The doors were used to animate the façade and to conceal a garage and private garden space within the existing building’s masonry walls. “The frame is a sling, but we made it as light and ethereal as possible,” explains founding partner Joe Valerio.

One theme that resonates throughout The Doblin House is the tension between opposites, visible in the perforated metal decking and exposed brick walls, which add texture and are contrasted by smooth, sealed concrete floors, custom millwork and an expanse of glass framing views of the garden. Virtually no interior partitions divide the space, which is bracketed only by a bath and kitchen in opposite corners, resulting in what Valerio describes as one space that flows together, as minimally as they could design it. “It’s about subtraction, not addition,” he says. The Doblin House went on to become the winner of the American Institute of Architects—Chicago Chapter Award.

On the other end of the residential spectrum, VDTA designed a new high-rise apartment on Chicago’s State Street. Valerio and his team exposed the concrete structural frame of the interior of the apartments and common spaces, but included special details like the impressions of the board forms and rounded columns. Vibrant colors also lend warmth to the concrete surfaces, and floor-to-ceiling glass reveals breathtaking city views. Valerio admits, however, that the project came in over budget on the first pass. To fix this, he met with a plumbing contractor and asked him, ‘How can I make your job easier and faster?’ By making simple adjustments behind the walls, such as eliminating risers, Valerio was able to cut the plumbing costs in half without sacrificing comfort or style.

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates recently designed a sales center for the Whirlpool Corporation by transforming a landmark masonry building into a high-tech showroom for appliance design. The new facility, overlooking the Chicago River, provides presentation space for product development and features a new penthouse roof terrace.

VDTA engaged audio/visual consulting firm AVTEG to incorporate high-tech details befitting a cutting-edgeFortune 500 company. Seven Whirlpool display kitchens feature digital, interactive signage and video monitoring displays to show pre-recorded content and computer presentations, and two functioning demonstration kitchens were designed to allow for productions on par with those of the Food Network.

Although the team placed an emphasis on careful coordination between AV components and the architects’ selection of high-level finishes and overall design, the real challenge, according to AVTEG President Lloyd Kozel, was “adding innovative AV requirements in a traditional, historic building.” This was especially true of the technological components serving the roof terrace, which is set back from the façade to avoid altering the building’s exterior and competing with its distinctive clock tower. Kozel borrowed technology from the residential market, including speakers camouflaged as flowerpots.

Text by Murrye Bernard

 

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