Building Renovations Add Architectural Spark to Humboldt Park Neighborhood

The term “adaptive reuse” can take on lot of different meanings, ranging from reinventing an old warehouse building to re-purposing ancient factories into modernized multifamily housing. At its root, the concept is about reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for. What was old now becomes new. The term may be trendy, but the practice of rehabilitating a building or a space for another use is certainly not new.

The locals can tell you stories of the property being a loud biker bar that, over the years, had just deteriorated and eventually closed.
The locals can tell you stories of the property being a loud biker bar that, over the years, had just deteriorated and eventually closed.

When the opportunity emerged for Amy Yurko, AIA, founder and owner of BrainSpaces Inc., a consulting firm, which promotes best practices and brain-based considerations in the planning and design of learning environments, to purchase the building neighboring her newly acquired property, she jumped on the chance. “It made sense, as we were already renovating one building, so why not the one next door.”

Built in 1918, the 5,000 square foot property on Fairfield Avenue is located within one of Chicago’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, Humboldt Park. The design team was geared to transform this building and give it a second (or maybe even its third) life and new purpose.

The locals can tell you stories of the property being a loud and annoying biker bar that, over the years, had just deteriorated and eventually closed, left unoccupied for a few years.

At first glance, one could see it had been clad over a few times; bricks and blocks a few layers deep were exposed. As Yurko’s team began to excavate, they started to discover what challenges they would need to address.

It was soon discovered that the building had an old, iron storefront, which had never been properly protected from the elements. And as we all know, in Chicago, elements can be extremely harsh on old buildings. “Our initial construction ideas needed to restructured after this discovery, primarily for the safety of our crew but soon thereafter, we were on course.”

Several options came to mind as Yurko was designing the exterior of the building. “We wanted something modern and pleasing to the eye. The neighborhood is deserving of that.”

CUPACLAD Parallel 101 is chosen not only for its rain screen capabilities but its aesthetic values as well.
CUPACLAD Parallel 101 is chosen not only for its rain screen capabilities but its aesthetic values as well.

After noodling out all the options, CUPACLAD Parallel 101 was chosen not only for its rain screen capabilities, but its aesthetic values surpassed all the options considered. “There was no doubt we would be utilizing a rain screen system,” continues Yurko. “But CUPACLAD also gave us a surface that was complementary with our modern aesthetics. The surface looks different every time, wet and dry. We have this glistening façade one moment and then a smooth matte exterior, the next. CUPACLAD’s sleek, timeless slate material is certainly turning heads.”

The CUPACLAD 101 PARALLEL system offers a style based on parallel lines, where its characteristic homogeneousness enhances the texture of the slate.  The 1,000 square foot installation of the 16- by 10-inch slate tiles with a horizontal orientation and minimal overlap gave the facade and edges a modern appearance.

In Chicago, freeze / thaw is always a factor in construction. CUPACLAD’s external thermal insulation provides benefits including energy efficiency, comfort levels and ultimately, savings.

The renovated four flat is now a design office/studio for BrainSpaces along with additional living space. Humboldt Park is now home to the first Chicagoland CUPACLAD Parallel 101 project and is glistening all the way.  The CUPACLAD system is new to the Chicago area, and its technical team did not hesitate to come out and meet with the contractors to ensure a smooth installation.

Amy Yurko states, “Since using CUPACLAD on our own office building and seeing its quality first-hand, we are already recommending it for our educational/institutional projects, both in Chicago and beyond. Here in Humboldt Park, a rugged, older neighborhood with diverse and historic roots, we are delighted with the results. The beautiful and functional slate rain screen exudes elegance, a modern aesthetic with a respectful nod to the past. It’s all good.”

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