The main entrance to the office is on the third floor. The reception desk is just visible at the back of the space. Behind the wall with the bulletin board is a kitchen area.

The main entrance to the office is on the third floor. The reception desk is just visible at the back of the space. Behind the wall with the bulletin board is a kitchen area.

Credit: Christopher Barrett


With their recent move, Chicago-based Brininstool + Lynch didn’t quite get to build a bespoke office space, but they got to do the next best thing: move into a space that they had designed for one of their clients. Back in 2001, the firm rehabbed 1144 West Washington Boulevard, a 1920s brick-and-concrete building, for a tech startup in the up-and-coming West Loop neighborhood. The architects kept the industrial shell of the three-story, 7,500-square-foot structure, but fitted it with new interiors and a contemporary façade—complete with steel-framed windows and doors. A decade later, the 33-person architecture firm spent a year-and-a-half “sleeping on someone else’s sofa waiting for the right space to open up,” principal David Brininstool, AIA, says—until this space became available. “The beauty of it is that we didn’t have to do much,” he says; the refresh simply called for removing some dividing walls to create an open working environment and bringing in new furniture. “When people come in to see us, they can really get a sense of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Brininstool says of the new-to-them space. “It’s about light and space and a sense of flow and movement, and creating subspaces with a feeling of privacy. It’s a living example of what we’re trying to do as architects.”

At night, the laminated glass on the ground level casts a welcoming glow.

At night, the laminated glass on the ground level casts a welcoming glow.


At one point in its history, the buildings ground floor had been retail space. At the ground-floor level, the translucent glass is screened with PVB laminate for privacy, and the Hopes-style steel frames have a level of precision that is closer to historic cast-iron frames. The idea was to re-establish that sense of human scale at the street level, says Brininstool.

At one point in its history, the building’s ground floor had been retail space. At the ground-floor level, the translucent glass is screened with PVB laminate for privacy, and the “Hope’s”-style steel frames have a level of precision that is closer to historic cast-iron frames. “The idea was to re-establish that sense of human scale at the street level,” says Brininstool.


The second floor is the firms main studio space. A dropped soffit was added to the exposed concrete ceiling to hide wiring and ductwork; and dividing walls were removed to open up the space. The Chicago-common-brick walls are decorated with photographs of one of the firms residential projects. The office furniture is from Watson (a budget alternative to Herman Miller Canvas) and the flooring is Milliken carpet tiles.

The second floor is the firm’s main studio space. A dropped soffit was added to the exposed concrete ceiling to hide wiring and ductwork; and dividing walls were removed to open up the space. The Chicago-common-brick walls are decorated with photographs of one of the firm’s residential projects. The office furniture is from Watson (a budget alternative to Herman Miller Canvas) and the flooring is Milliken carpet tiles.

Credit: Christopher Barrett


At the back of the second floor is a glassed-in meeting room.

At the back of the second floor is a glassed-in meeting room.

Credit: Christopher Barrett


The third-floor conference room faces the front of the building and is filled with natural light. Interior clerestories allow the light to continue through to the rest of the floor.

The third-floor conference room faces the front of the building and is filled with natural light. Interior clerestories allow the light to continue through to the rest of the floor.

Credit: Christopher Barrett


The office has a view of the famed Willis Tower, visible behind David Brininstools desk.

The office has a view of the famed Willis Tower, visible behind David Brininstool’s desk.

Credit: Christopher Barrett