DIRTT Environmental Solutions Boasts Airy, Open Work Environment At Rivers Edge

DIRTT atop the Helene Curtis Building

A number of times when I’ve interviewed for jobs over the years, there’s been a temptation to ask whether the office has windows. I find windowless office spaces grim and depressing. Studies have shown that workers operate more efficiently when they’re exposed to daylight.

DIRTT atop the Helene Curtis BuildingThat’s why when I walked into the DIRTT Environmental Solutions’ Green Learning Center at 325 North Wells Street, I thought, “Man, I could work here.”

I suppose having little knowledge of environmental sustainability could limit my usefulness. But the high ceilings, skylight and large windows made DIRTT look like a pretty appealing place to spend the workday. The interior has what some have called a nautical theme, perhaps fitting for its riverside location.

If you’re standing near Wells and West Wacker and look just across the Chicago River, you’ll see up on the top floor of the historic Helene Curtis Building the letters “DIRTT.” That’s the penthouse office where the company showcases its solutions to prospective clients. It was also one of the unique tour sites on the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 2014 Open House Chicago agenda.

Sarah Putman, DIRTT Manufacturer's Representative

Sarah Putman, DIRTT Manufacturer’s Representative

The view from the DIRTT balcony is certainly stunning. The learning center itself is compact but efficiently-constructed. Sarah Putman of DIRTT explained how the area was designed and constructed.

“This space was added to the building below us in 1985,” she said. “Booth Hanson and Associates designed it, they won the competition. It was previously the Helene Curtis board room and executive office.

“Previously, there was a conference room table up here, so we’ve used the space much differently,” she said. “We had the architect, Mr. Hansen, come in to talk about it. We asked ‘What inspired you? What’s the concept?’” He told us it was just the design they had, with no specific design or inspiration.”

View From DIRTT

The view from DIRTT

Location: 325 North Wells Street, River North

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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