Located on eight floors of a modernist tower in downtown Chicago, Enova – an innovator in online financial services – is one of numerous technology companies to have established itself as part of Chicago’s new tech hub. Understanding that the growth of this hub would bring increased competition for the best programmers and designers, and inspired by Brininstool + Lynch’s design for Basecamp – a web-based software company located in Chicago – Enova hired the firm to design a new working environment to house the company’s technology department.
Brininstool + Lynch used several creative strategies to divide the 18,000-square-foot floor plate into distinct and recognizable zones. The elevator and stair core is enclosed in bright blue acrylic sheets that are offset from the wall and backlit to create a glowing blue box that is visible from almost every vantage point on the floor, creating an identifier and focal point. Private offices and audio/video conference rooms – enclosed in either translucent or transparent glass – surround the core on the east, west and north sides, with two of those sides facing walls of windows.
Along the west edge of the floor, where there are no windows, Brininstool + Lynch created a 150-foot-long feature wall, constructed of custom formed recycled fiberboard panels set in an irregular, undulating pattern that creates a wave-like effect. Along this glowing wall and mirrored on the east side are 130-foot-long workstations that allow programmers to work in an open and collaborative setting. The design incorporates materials throughout the space that control sound for a functional work environment.
On the south side of the floor is a large, open kitchen, dining and seating area that provides a space for physical nourishment and offers areas for friendly conversations and impromptu meetings. The design successfully weaves together function and aesthetics, exceeding the client’s expectations and leaving a strong and positive impression on employees and visitors.