Working with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the zpd+a design team revived an abandoned big-box retail space into a vibrant multi-use destination in Chicago’s south side Morgan Park neighborhood. The 130,000sf Solution Center and Blue University provides over 550 new jobs to the local community, while the attached Blue Door Community Center offers public access to healthier lifestyles with wellness classes, educational seminars, and career fairs, making the Morgan Park Solution Center a beacon of light to its community.
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Gold 🏆 Winner
International Interior Design Awards 2021
BCBS of Illinois Morgan Park Solution Center
Commercial Interior Built
HCSC, zpd+a Architects, Pepper Construction, Brown and Momen
The complex program was developed around design strategies that promote active living and create opportunities for increased movement and interaction, leading to an enjoyable, balanced workspace that supports team rapport, encourages personal health, and increases overall work and life satisfaction.
The biggest design problem that had to be addressed was how to bring natural light into such a monolithic volume. To address this, two open air courtyards were cut into the building footprint, creating a dynamic indoor-outdoor experience that floods the workspace with natural light. This also creates a literal and physical connection to the outdoors, providing a lively and refreshing indoor-outdoor relationship for the formerly enclosed space. The contribution of so much daylight in the middle of the floorplate, paired with washing the interior perimeter walls with biophilic lighting strategies, provides a welcoming outdoor space for staff enjoyment and creates a dynamic interior environment.
Interior walking paths encourage movement and measurable pacing throughout the day and have led to friendly competitions and increased communication between staff. This in turn develops a stronger sense of team community, increasing the overall sense of satisfaction and wellbeing of employees, and impacting the bottom line.
In addition to office and training space supporting BCBS IL business needs, the adjacent Blue Door Community Center provides health and wellness programs for the community, establishing a resource designed for preventative health and community wellness. The facility incorporates a multi-function event space which can be partitioned as required to serve as a large meeting space, intimate training room, and host for other community events, gatherings, and demonstrations such as yoga, senior events, and health classes. Community outreach has a measurable impact on the neighborhood, filling a much-needed social gap.
The overall investment in the building has created an essential nexus of engaging design, quality employment opportunities, and vibrant community outreach.
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