Logan Certified, our adaptive reuse, mixed-use live | work space, is complete.
Our first real estate development project started as a retired grocery store with a great deal of character, from its Brisch Brick (made of Chicago clay) facade to its pastel-toned columns and vintage tin ceiling. As practitioners of adaptive reuse, we made it our aim to preserve this character, working around and alongside it to realize the potential of the space.
Slide the image to see the before and after
Keeping the facade intact, we carved out an interior courtyard for pizza nights and reverie, built our new studio space in the front, and a rentable commercial unit adjacent (now occupied by the very talented Studio6F.) Up top, we designed and built an energy-efficient loft apartment with a clean, modern palette that our tenants could decorate as they pleased. For the back suite—we designed the moss showroom (which you can see in gorgeous full-screen photos on Curbed Chicago). More details, photos, and process recaps to come—keep scrolling.
OVERALL LOOK AND FEEL
Like all of our projects, this one centered around natural light, but we had a unique challenge with an opaque brick wall on one side and a studio divider wall on the other. To open up space, we created a courtyard that would spill sunlight into the office and showroom, and provide a private outdoor sanctuary space for events and social gatherings. We worked around an existing steel beam, which adds an interesting industrial detail to the courtyard.
The desks where Laura and Chris are working are moss originals, and made with salvaged wood and steel. The office has views of the courtyard where we enjoy lunch and explore pizza recipes.
ARCHITECT AS DEVELOPER + CONCEPT
Developing a space from the beginning allowed moss to retain more control, and ultimately, more ownership over a project than ever before. Understanding the process from start to finish from all angles helped create the foundation for Logan Certified, and was a natural next step for us as an independent architecture studio. To approach a unique project like Logan Certified, where we wanted to create a high-density mixed use project, and one that left its own unique design footprint on a historical neighborhood, we were able to use every tool and perspective from our experience. Read more about our philosophy on architect as developer in last year’s initial post on Logan Certified.
From the sketchbook: Our initial concept drawings show the courtyard concept and how we planned to divide the building, along with a massing idea for the second floor apartment addition.
The first step in the process was a site visit, where we determined what was salvageable, and what needed to be rehabbed. Our vision was to create a mixed-use building (meaning a variety of uses and building types, from residential to commercial and retail) in one space. We like mixed-use developments because they retain the character of a neighborhood, and support local business and local people, allowing small businesses to flourish. A building and site that evolved over several transformations carries over the history of that site through the building’s life, not to mention it is more economical and sustainable to use a building’s bones instead of demolishing it. It was also crucial for us to incorporate outdoor space into the program, but not having a yard or deck space to work with created a design challenge, so we created a courtyard into the center of the building.
From sketch to concept: This animation shows our basic concept and program in four stages.
Early scope drawings: During schematic design we outlined the extent and detail of the concept.
Perhaps the piece de resistance, the showroom features our newest custom designed wine shelf, a wood-burning fireplace for cozy, snowy nights, and a custom wood wall divider that houses pocket doors and closets. The wood adds warmth to an open plan with an industrial feel, and doubles as a visual centerpiece. The space was created with entertaining in mind, ensuring the kitchen had plenty of navigation room for grazers in the spacious kitchen.
Our latest wine shelf, the Finer Things Club Wine + Mixology Center, being shown by Bosco the office cat. The custom piece features floating wine storage, and cabinets for all the makings of a craft cocktail.
Bosco’s favorite winter spot
Above photos (except the first one): credit to the excellent Carmen Troesser.
Designing the Custom Courtyard
The courtyard was a central organizational design element, effectively splitting the space into four “suites” and allowing light and air flow to circulate throughout Logan Certified. Additionally, it was important to us that we had access to outdoor space. Understanding the importance of having access to the outdoors, we also included a private balcony into the loft apartment design so tenants could enjoy time outside, steps from their living area. It not only ties into our greater design philosophy (which involves incorporating local materials and increasing outdoor space wherever we can) but also felt vitally important to the nature of how design should improve our quality of life.
We chose cedar for its superior versatility to various weather conditions and forest pine scent, but also because it added a transformative quality to our private courtyard. It looks pretty magical on a summer night or covered with snow.
Perhaps our favorite courtyard feature is the custom-built pizza oven, which provided fresh bubbling pies at our holiday party this year.
All three courtyard photos above: credit to Carmen Troesser
Did you know that solar panels are extremely effective, even in a four-season town like Chicago? We installed panels on the sloped roof of the loft apartment to maximize their contact with the sun’s rays year round. Not only are they visual eye candy, they power the studio and showroom. Read more about the installation process, how solar panels operate, and how we figured out the precise angle to build the roof for maximum solar gains in our post: Solar Panels in Chicago: What You Need to Know to Install.
The Loft Apartment
The modern loft apartment optimized a space built for one or two tenants with energy-efficient appliances, reclaimed floors, custom cabinetry by our friends at Fricano, and a private balcony clad in rot-resistant cedar. More on those below, and for more pictures and amenities, check out the post on Modern Logan Square Loft Apartment.
CONSTRUCTION AND HOW LOGAN CERTIFIED GOT ITS NAME
While we were researching the history of the neighborhood, we had some great conversations with local artists and business owners and uncovered some interesting historical artifacts and photos. Read the complete series of interviews: Jason & Erin Brammer, Bric-a-Brac, The Dill Pickle, Boulevard Bikes and Antique to Chic.
The former grocery store on site was called “Logan Certified Food Market” as evidenced by these old ATM receipts we found during site investigation. Hence the name of our development, Logan Certified.
Historical photo mosaic (clockwise from top left: Sales Letter Corporation details the businesses on Diversey circa 1912; Chicago Tribune Headline about a holdup at the former grocery store at 2857 W. Diversey in 1952; Albany Ave South of Diversey; A vintage shot of the Northwest Corner of Diversey and California in Logan Square; Sanborn Map shows the footprint of the buildings in the area—this is how we discovered that the front portion of our building was built first.)
Found square head bolts during demolition
Sketches of the bathroom
Early construction action (clockwise from top left: plumbers digging trenches for underground sewer, Matt with concrete crew digging footings; lots of demo debris; clean slate after demolition).
- Initial offer: December 2015
- Second offer: July 2016
- Closing & construction start: December 2016
- Hard hat party: April 2017
- Studio occupied: May 2017
- Loft apartment occupied: June 2017
- Commercial tenant occupied: August 2017
Products | People:
Architect | Design: moss Design
General contractor: moss Build
Millwork: Fricano Custom Cabinetry
Landscape supply | install: Cityscape Landscape
Aluminum siding panels: Oculus
Doors and windows: Pella Impervia
Sherwin Williams Harmony – Alpaca (master bathroom)
Sherwin Williams Harmony – Turkish Tile (guest bath)
Sherwin Williams Harmony – White (elsewhere)
Large sofa sectional: BoConcept
Daybed: BoConcept Seca
Coffee table: Siberian Elm top and Cold rolled steel base Great Lakes Coffee Table, custom designed and fabricated by moss Design
Tub: WetStyle BC 08-01
Wine shelf: Finer Things Club Wine Shelf Black Walnut, custom designed by moss Design
Kitchen cabinets, wall panels and built-in closets: rift sawn white oak, custom designed by moss Design
Kitchen and bathroom counters: Vadara Quartz fabricated by MGM Stone
Entry bench: Reclaimed bowling alley bench, custom designed and fabricated by moss Design
Kitchen island stool: DWR Bacco Counter Stool
Wood burning stove: Rais Rondo
White wingback chair and ottoman: restored Adrian Pearsall found at Architectural Anarchy
Master bath tile: Ergon Stone Project
Guest bath tile: Milano Vivo Square
Exterior chaise lounge: CB2
Exterior table: DWR Inox
Pizza oven: custom designed and fabricated by moss Design
Address numerals: Modern House Numbers
Kitchen appliances: Bosch
Kitchen sink & faucet: Hahn
Bathroom plumbing fixtures: Hansgrohe, Geberit
Door hardware: FSB and Hafele
Light fixtures: Juno, Eureka
Ceiling fan: Big Ass Fan, Haiku
Solar panels: LG 320W panels installed by Earth, Wind and Solar