Not that Whitehouse. This Whitehouse is a film editing company that started life in London – in a little white house. 20 years on they now have offices all over the world, including the Chicago office, featured here, which was designed by Los Angeles architect Bruce Bolander.
Above: The Whitehouse’s updated Chicago office. Photo by Mike Schwartz. Below: The company’s partners – Rick Lawley, Matthew Wood and David Brixton. Photo: Jen Shelley
Whitehouse partners and editors David Brixton, Rick Lawley and Matthew Wood were deeply involved in the creative decision-making of the project. ”Often what’s missing on a commercial project is the client point-of-view. Rick Lawley took the time to fly out to Chicago with me several times,” says Bolander. “We’d spend the car ride out discussing the project, and then I’d have the time on the flight to draw what we had talked about, Four undisturbed hours without the phone or computer to work side-by-side with the client is a rare creative luxury in this day and age.”
Above: The historic Courthouse Place building. The Whitehouse office is on the fifth floor. Photo by Mike Schwartz.
Light was important to the client, as the current space was very dark. The building, which had been a courthouse, was designed by architect Otto H. Matz and completed in 1893. Wood panelling featured heavily in the a recent renovation and small offices pushed up against the exterior walls blocked light coming into the central spaces.
Above: To lighten the sapce architect Bruce Bolander introduced pale wood paneling and white painted wood. The hallway floor was stripped of dark carpet and finished with white epoxy. Photo by James Dierx.
“I focused the design so that the light from the outside came all the way through, which was occasionally as simple as changing the blinds, wall and floor color. In other areas, we cut out some of the perimeter offices to let light in along the large corridors,” said Bolander. “The intention was to try to peel back and get back to the basics of the building, so we uncovered the brick and steel pieces. We also as integrated other stripped-down elements such as vertical wood-paneling as an an additional material that kind of bridges the old and the new.”
Above: The wallpaper outside the main office is All of Us by Geoff McFetridge. The bench is a vintage find from Metro Retro and the receptionist sits on an Eames Aluminum Group Management chair. Photo: Jen Shelley
While most of the fabric, color, and furniture choices came directly from Bolander’s office, Jen Shelley, Manager of Operations at The Whitehouse, found herself scouting pieces for the office. ”Chicago has great vintage furniture finds because so many of the mid-century manufacturers were located nearby.” Shelley scoured shops for the perfect pieces to represent The Whitehouse company culture, taking pictures on her phone and sending them to Bolander, Wood and Lawley for approval. She found the humorous and rather awkward portraits that line the credenza in the foyer at shops such as Broadway Antique Market and Edgewater Antique Mall – both north of the city.
You know a space is smart and well-designed when it is flexible enough to be used for more than one purpose. The Whitehouse partners will be hosting the wedding of Lindsey Zuercher and Todd Brusnighan, both clients from McGarry Bowen Chicago, in the new office space. Those white floors look perfect for dancing!