A recent award helped put the Village of Wilmette on the map in the world of Chicago architecture. The northern suburb’s Public Works Building recently underwent an expansion and renovations that included the addition of a new, 5,000 square foot state-of-the-art administrative building, which is the highlight of the project.
The new development is a slender (25 ft. wide x 130 ft. long), freestanding building comprised of white metal and full-height clear glass panels. The design gives employees an overview of the public works yard while providing operable windows so they can let in fresh air. It also faces north to avoid heat gain, and the glass has a low-emissivity (Low-E) coating, which lets in light while blocking most of the sun’s heat and UV rays, according to project’s architect of record, Legat Architects. The structure includes six private offices, open workspace and a conference room and reception area.
Prior to the expansion, the department was running into operational inefficiencies due to outdated and cramped workspaces. But with the new configurations and improvements to the site, the department has been able to enhance productivity, cut down on operational costs, and create an overall healthier work environment.
According to a press release from Legat Architects, the project set a sustainable standard – it became one of the nation’s first public works facilities to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. The credential recognizes design strategies that promote operational efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and respect occupant health. The press release went on to state that in the checklist that determines LEED rankings, the project achieved perfect or near perfect scores in categories for water efficiency, indoor air quality, and innovative design.
In addition to achieving LEED Gold certification, the project also received a Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects Chicago Chapter, making it one of only four submissions selected for the highest award within the category. According to the Chicago Tribune, the award celebrates worldwide presence of outstanding work from Chicago architecture firms, and recognizes significant achievements in the planning, design, and execution of recent building projects.
The village, along with their partners Legat Architects and Epstein|Metter Studio, accepted the award at the “Designight” Ceremony at Navy Pier in late October. This is a major achievement for not only the department and the architecture firms involved, but it also gave a great sense of pride to the people of Wilmette.
Donna Jakubowski, Wilmette’s director of public works, was quoted as saying, “This project represents the whole community’s intensified commitment to energy-efficient and environmentally-sensitive facilities. The Village Board, architects, and staff succeeded with the vision to create an exceptional building that is now a showcase in our community.”