Not many people would have been able to see the potential in a plain, dark, cold-looking industrial building, but after seeing the end result, we're glad they did. Chicago-based architect Foster Dale helped turn one home owner's vision into reality. The challenge is having a blank slate that looks nothing like a conventional home and having to transform that space into something that will function for a family. "We take preconceived ideas of what a typical house space should be like and turn those ideas upside down in order to get fun and exciting variations on those ideas," Dale said.
The goal for projects like this one is to seamlessly blend modern elements into the original structure and design in a way that both the old and new are represented equally. "People love having a sense of the original structure in their homes. They enjoy the mix of the old and the new and the combining of the residential sensibility and the nonresidential sensibility," Dale said.
The soda pop factory was no different, and the trick was trying to turn the boxy, dark space into a light-filled, modern space for a young family. It took almost five years to turn the nearly 6,000-square-foot industrial building into a dream home. Luckily, the home owners knew what they wanted and weren't willing to compromise on the design elements.
The rear portion of the building had barrel-vaulted ceilings and the original wood bowstring trusses. To take advantage of the high ceilings and natural light, this area of the house was reserved for a chef's kitchen, the living room and the dining room. The original trusses make a visual impact in the modern space and are a constant reminder of the history of the building.
The front two-story portion of the building houses a spiral staircase that serves as a whimsical focal point that allows light from the second floor to pour down into the lower level. "The stair brings a tremendous amount of light into the center of the house and extends up to a roof deck above. We designed the custom curved stair railings to have a kinetic, moving sensibility — they almost dance from floor to floor," Dale said.
When the front facade was rebuilt, a limestone checkerboard pattern was used in an effort to preserve the original urban-industrial look of the building. The simple exterior honors the history of the building while the colorful and playful exterior represents the personality of the family and the future for the space. The home also includes a roof-top deck, a small terrace off the kitchen, a wine room and an office.
Not all old buildings can be saved, but when they can the result is worth the effort. "Saving an older building and giving it new life as a home is a sustainable, 'green' action. There is a tremendous amount of energy that is embodied in the building that does not need to be wasted," Dale said. The history of the old soda factory and the energy that the building held live on and will continue to evolve thanks to the family who saw the beauty in the old space.
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