Office N Illinois

Lamar Johnson Collaborative helps financial trading firm achieve live-work balance

Photos courtesy of Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick Photographers Photos courtesy of Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick Photographers
Photos courtesy of Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick Photographers Photos courtesy of Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick Photographers
Photos courtesy of Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick Photographers Photos courtesy of Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick Photographers
Photos courtesy of Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick Photographers Photos courtesy of Steve Hall © Hall+Merrick Photographers

Lamar Johnson Collaborative (LJC) has completed a West Loop office for BlackEdge Capital. The space, within a new commercial property in Chicago’s hot Fulton Market area, will serve as both a place to work and a place to thrive—not so much an office as an integral strand of the firm’s DNA.

The finished space effectively blurs the distinction between work and free time. The workplace is a popular weekend destination for employees who go there not to work—but to recharge. A partnership between BlackEdge Capital and a local art gallery enhances the tone of the space. Rotating exhibitions in the workplace inject an aesthetic that both underscores the client’s seriousness of purpose and invites restorative reflection.

“Our goal was to create a space that’s an extension of our life,” said Josh Mateffy, BlackEdge Capital founder and managing partner. “We take our work seriously, but not ourselves.”

Through close collaboration with the company founders, LJC designed a workplace that places equal emphasis on functionality, technology and a calm environment. Large portions of the floor plate dedicated to communal areas—a fitness center/shower, café and gaming area—offer relief from the relentless pace of financial work. These communal areas are supported by quiet spaces throughout, ranging from an enclosed nap room to semi-private areas adjacent to the café. Mirroring the balance of work-driven intensity with areas of tranquility, the interior architecture and finishes create a dialogue between refined detailing and the industrial context of the West Loop property.

The architectural expression at BlackEdge Capital is sculptural form, creating a visual and tactile experience; this is most evident in the central entry conference “Hub.” Visitors and staff are greeted by a serene rhythm of vertical white oak inviting visitors to explore the gallery and café beyond. Reflecting the intensity of trading team activities, the main conference room expresses sharp precision.