racine loft moss general contracting

Adventures in General Contracting: The Racine Loft


A moss we pride ourselves on the strong, collaborative relationships we develop with contractors, but for some projects we find even more room to direct our designs by taking on the GC role directly.  A visit (with camera AND drawings in hand) to our ongoing Racine Loft project demonstrates some of the ways that our hands-on approach to general contracting and design can benefit the process.

The Racine Loft: A Quick Conceptual Overview  

This open loft felt too undefined for our clients, who wanted to update some poorly divided “rooms” and add in a studio, two bedrooms and a second bath, all without punching any additional windows into the exterior walls (in accordance with their HOA).  Since the space only gets light from a small segment of the south wall and a bank of windows along the north, we wanted to avoid chopping up the space into closed boxes.

DSC03280 copy

Our solution: an array of rooms arranged along the windowless east side of the unit and separated from the main space by a ribbon-wall of cabinet work and windows, which can borrow light and air from the main living area and its generous windows.  The result will maintain the open, light-filled loft aesthetic of the living space augmented with livable bedrooms and work areas which add to its utility.  Since the restrictive HOA ruling on new windows limits the loft’s visual connection with the outside, we’ll also be bringing nature into the space in the form of a rolling tree planter centerpiece for the living space.

/Volumes/projects/Lin-Cates Loft/drawings/plans/LinCates-floorpl

moss design … and construction 

By assuming the role of GC for the Racine Loft (Matt below with Steve our site superintendent), moss is able to maximize our design supervision of complex designed elements like the ribbon wall.  Doing this work in-house allows us to ensure the quality, and adjust for the client’s wishes, as much as possible.  The woodwork will be perfected by our millworker, Nunzio, as a series of fixed and operable window units which can be created offsite and popped into place once complete.


Experimenting to find perfection  

This project held an element of playful experiment as we tried to find the best way to add some texture to the concrete floor of the shower unit.  Our first concept was to simply embed beautiful river rocks in a concrete matrix, but the final result exposed too much aggregate.  So we’ve improved on the idea with this commercial product pre-attached to a matting which we can then adjust by hand, replacing the mid-tone stones with black rock, to create a dramatic black and white element for the bathroom.

DSC03275 copy

Turning old into new  

These lights were hidden in the crawlspace under the stairs going up to another unit.  One perfectly matches the two existing pendants in the kitchen—allowing us to add a third without replacing the first two.  We’ve found a home for the other two lights in the master closet.

DSC03286 copy

This sink is a 1940’s vintage Kolher farm house model which we found on Etsy and will be incorporating into the bathroom.

DSC03283 copy

We’ll be using a custom sink, backsplash and shelf in the other bathroom custom fabricated for us by Vector Fabricating in the West Loop neighborhood.  As with all moss projects, we seek to incorporate as many recycled, found and locally sourced objects into the design as possible.  The projects where we do the general contracting are no different – we always love to loop in local products!

Check back in the next few months for more updates on the Racine Loft as well as a video about the design and construction process!