Monitor's Chicago office brings together their Innovation Group with their affiliate firm, Doblin, Inc. These two entities embrace different work cultures—one championing private offices and individual work space, the other team-focused with a need for in-house client work areas. Transcending these distinct dynamics was a desire for collaboration and a sense of unity in their space, conveying that this is one company sharing one space, while occupying two contiguous floors. Monitor Doblin also desired an innovative and flexible environment. They needed to establish an image that met all needs—something both polished and grounded that could respond appropriately to a variety of client types, and support for client confidentiality. Sasaki, which has a long-standing relationship with the Monitor Group, created unique solutions based on an overarching on-stage versus off-stage metaphor that reflect the group's philosophies and address their specific needs.
The on-stage versus off-stage metaphor identifies a distinct area for clients and team-based work (on-stage), and an area for day-to-day individual work (off-stage). These areas are realized both functionally and architecturally. The on-stage area consists of the formal team-based spaces including two innovation workshop suites. The area is enclosed in a highly finished white and glass envelope that easily flows from entry to reception to team spaces, offering views of the city and Lake Michigan. It can be completely separated from the surrounding office to provide confidentiality as required. The on-stage area creates a unified and collaborative office environment. Its spaces are organized linearly and across both floors. A broad staircase gracefully connects the two levels, creating one continuous experience. The off-stage areas exist on both levels as well, comprised of open workstations with a small number of enclosed offices that are shared by the staff when privacy is required. It is a highly functional, flexible, open space with easy access to infrastructure and a more industrial, warmer palette of materials. Individual workstations are organized in a linear bench format to allow for flexibility in headcount and configuration. The on-stage area is visible and accessible from the off-stage areas, creating an overall cohesive office environment.
As a sustainable strategy, Sasaki made significant efforts to minimize the use of new materials. Ceiling and concrete columns are exposed and unfinished. The space also features reused doors, ceiling tile, glass, walls, cabinets, and furniture panels, and wood accents fashioned from reclaimed hickory. Low-energy LEDs are used in the on-stage area, and daylight and views are maximized by pushing highly active areas to the perimeter.