The new home for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 is designed to create a strong community presence and speak to the history and future vitality of the trade union. The site of the former 1960’s Drake Elementary School in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood was renovated as an adaptive-reuse project that would revitalize the vibrant community. The union’s new 70,000 SF home is comprised of 48,000 SF of renovation and 22,000 sf of new construction that provides space for the corporate offices and member hall.
The building's powerful use of light creates a strong sense of identity along Martin Luther King Drive. An expansive back-lit feature wall and in-grade plaza lighting use sophisticated controls to create a dynamic “glowing” atmosphere that can be amped up for monthly meetings and softened for subtle lighting on non-event evenings. This firefly wall speaks boldly to the trad union’s craft, celebrating the importance of individual members who will be illuminated as they traverse the plaza and enter the transparent lobby.
This “Beacon of Bronzeville,” as dubbed by Chicago’s mayor, includes the union hall, corporate offices, and a gymnasium serving both the surrounding neighborhood as well as IBEW members. The gymnasium is dedicated to the local community’s youth and reinforces the message of community engagement by the Union.
The unique design and engineering challenges associated with an adaptive reuse project were tackled by architects, engineers, and construction managers on our full integrated team who engaged with IBEW Local 134 to design the building quickly and meet an aggressive construction schedule.