ChiCAT is founded on the principles that creative endeavors can build enterprises and expand human possibility, that environments shape lives, and that everyone deserves a beautiful, respectful, safe space in which to learn.
Underserved communities have little access to job training and employment opportunities, which leads to hopelessness, poverty, and disenfranchisement. ChiCAT strengthens the community by providing innovative youth art and adult vocational training in a life-affirming, supportive center.
Choosing to adaptively reuse a four-story, light industrial masonry building in the Illinois Medical District on Chicago’s West Side, the design of the ChiCAT facility reasserts a guiding principle of the organization: balancing the built and natural environments while honoring the potential for rebirth.
At the main entry, visitors are met by native landscaping, “front porch” seating, and natural materials that create a welcoming, imaginative, and human-scale environment. Large glass windows provide natural light as well as transparency, so the greater community can see what’s happening at ChiCAT. Inside is 30,000 square feet of thoughtfully-designed digital arts classrooms, gallery space, a café, youth lounge, and labs for training in mechatronics, food quality control, medical assisting and more.
The successful design arose from the strong and passionate collaboration of ChiCAT board members, the Architect, and community stakeholders. This energized, flexible, and respectful building will affect many lives, keep at-risk youth motivated to stay in school, and empower adults in depressed neighborhoods to get good jobs and lends further context for the means by which design can aid in strengthening communities.
Early in the process the ChiCAT team set LEED Gold Certification as the overarching sustainability goal for the rehab of a 1920’s factory building. We achieved GOLD Certification through a varied and comprehensive collection of sustainability strategies.
- In order to reuse the existing facility we had to remedy a number of environmental concerns both in the soils and within the shell of the buildings (Brownfield Development).
- The existing site was almost entirely impermeable and our design increased that to nearly 40% permeable site with the addition of 2 large courtyards/terraces.
- Heat Island Effect was reduced with the use of landscape and reflective hardscape surfaces as well as an all new Energy Star reflective roof surface.
Energy and Atmosphere
- The existing building did not include wall or roof insulation. We used highly efficient closed cell foam at the walls and poly-iso rigid insulation at the roof to bring the building up to a modern standard.
- We have a large Photovoltaic Panel array at the roof level supplying energy to the building.
- The client has elected to do enhanced commissioning and measurement and verification which will allow this efficient building to continue to operate optimally.
Indoor Environment Quality
- All new materials met LEED requirements for Low-Emitting Materials (adhesives, sealants, flooring, paints and coatings, composite wood, etc.)
- The lighting was controls were highly advanced and affected daylight, time, and occupancy, but they are also controllable by the user. We also met LEED’s requirements for Daylight and Views.
- The thermal comfort of the user is very important to the client—the systems and envelope were designed to exceed the ASHRAE standard. The client also elected to implement a user verification plan to check the effectiveness of the systems.
• Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr excluding on-site renewable energy contribution: 75 kbtu/sqft
• Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr including on-site renewable energy contribution (carbon offsets will not be counted): 73 kbtu/sqft (14.4 kw photovoltaic system at the roof)
Reuse of an existing building and site within the Illinois Medical District provided great connectivity to existing public transit and community amenities. The proximity to public transit as well as transportation planning for the young students that would use the building allowed us to reduce the existing parking on site. The maximum user count for this building could reach as high as 350 people if all spaces are occupied to their maximum. We know that this is rarely if ever the case though so we were able to keep the parking count to 19. The site is well connected to public transit (within .1 miles of bus resources) and the organization is expecting to coordinate some transportation especially for school aged kids. Our site design accommodates for drop off and procession for these groups.
We exceeded the LEED requirement for low-flow fixtures to provide a 30% use reduction over baseline. All of the new landscaping was water efficient and does not require irrigation.
In general at least 80% of the existing structure and wall and floor systems were maintained in order to not create a great deal of waste. The building was deconstructed by a licensed contractor rather than traditional demolition—this insured the bulk of the materials leaving the building were reused or recycled. Some of the existing wood material was reused within the building as decorative panels and furniture.
iii. The new materials in the project met the LEED standard for both Recycled Content as we as Regional Materials.