The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 sought a new home for their members in the heart of Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood. The chosen facility was once the former decommissioned 1960s Drake Elementary School. In order to adaptively reuse the given space and achieve IBEW’s design goals everything but the existing concrete structure was demolished and exterior skin and interiors were completely rebuilt. The 70,000 sq ft project comprises of Local 134’s business headquarters, including 22,000 sq ft of new construction housing a Memorial Hall. In an attempt to leave a positive impact on the Bronzeville community, the school’s original gymnasium was also renovated into a community athletic center that welcomes local residents.
The use of light plays a crucial role in the new development, reflecting IBEW’s professional trade. For the structure’s exterior, aluminum panels were chosen to create a silhouette around an expansive back-lit feature wall. Combined with in-grade plaza lighting, Unilock 6×24” pavers with Smooth Premier finish in Opal, Steel Grey and Chamois were used for the entryway, delivering a smooth, contemporary texture, and creating a captivating visual interest during the day and dramatic “glowing” atmosphere during night. Finally, the adjacent drive-lane was designed with Eco-Priora permeable pavers in Charcoal, offering sustainability and water management features on site. Serving as a local home for the union and contributing to the ongoing revitalization of the vibrant Bronzeville community, this state-of-the-art facility highlights the union’s legacy, as well as its bright future.