Walker Warner Architects’ home is a blue-collar building with a deceptively distinguished architectural pedigree. Dating from the 1920s, the concrete structure wears the painted signs of E.M. O’Donnell Copper Works, which produced, among other things, architectural detailing. Later, it housed firms led by the late Howard A. Friedman, FAIA. “It’s an iconic building from the exterior,” says Walker Warner principal Greg Warner, AIA, LEED AP. Inside, with a soaring two-story space crowned with a glazed monitor, “it’s almost churchlike.”

Warner and partner Brooks Walker preserved that space, now the office’s main studio, by sandblasting the ceiling and timber frame and adding a mezzanine that shares the original building’s industrial aesthetic. “We think of ourselves as contextualists,” Warner, LEED AP, explains, and this space—inspiring to employees and impressive to clients—effortlessly proves the point. “This building had such a strong identity, we didn’t have to create interest,” he says. “We played off of what was here.”