A Capital Venture
Gary Lee Partners meets the aesthetic and technological demands of Madison Dearborn Partners in Chicago.
Linas Alsenas -- Interior Design, 11/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
In the high-stakes world of investment banking, you need to know exactly what you want—and how to get it. Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP) had many requirements in mind for their new Chicago headquarters and asked Gary Lee Partners to integrate them into a design that reflected their corporate identity. Michael Byun and Travis Clifton, associate design directors at Gary Lee Partners, developed a minimal, eclectic aesthetic for the private equity investment firm. The new look communicates MDP's forward vision, while bold, simple forms and what Byun describes as "no-nonsense detailing" assure investors of the company's stability and strength.
The 38th-floor space, formerly '70s-era law offices plagued by bright red carpeting and teak walls ("It was just horrible," groans Byun), had to be completely gutted. The designers redesigned electrical and lighting systems, upgraded air quality with the best HVAC technology available, and added even more elaborate ventilation measures to allow partners to smoke at their desks. MDP also insisted on the latest office technology, including obsessively utilized Amtel text-messaging systems, thereby tripling the typical amount of cabling needed.
The staggered wall of one side of the building inspired the architects to create individual suites for each partner and his or her executive assistant. A lottery determined office allotments, which, perhaps not surprisingly, resulted in a frenzy of buying, selling, and trading. To personalize the spaces, the designers developed a limited baseline of furniture and setup options from which partners could choose.
Asked about the duration of the project, Byun laughs: "It's still going." While the initial design's execution took nine months to complete, expansion and renovation are under way, attesting to the long-standing relationships that Gary Lee Partners establishes with clients. In fact, MDP liked their new Chicago premises so much that they asked Gary Lee Partners to design their London office as well.