C.H. Robinson Midwest Headquarters, Chicago, IL | Architect: Skidmore, OWings & Merrill LLP, Chicago, IL | © Mark Kempf Photography

C.H. Robinson Midwest Headquarters

Project: C.H. Robinson Midwest Headquarters
Location/Country: Chicago, IL | USA
EGV Architects, Hidalgo, TX | USA
Fabricator: Sobotec Ltd., Hamilton, ON | CAN
Installer: Mid-States Glass and Metal, Inc., Niles, IL | USA
General Contractor: Power Construction Co., LLC, Chicago, IL | USA
Year of completion: 2018
Color: Custom BMB Sunlight Silver Mica
Photos: © Mark Kempf Photography

Designed by the Chicago office of architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), the new four-story office building accommodates more than 1,000 employees of C.H. Robinson, a leading global third-party logistics provider headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn. At 207,000 square feet, the new building is more than double the size of C.H. Robinson’s previous office space on North Marcey Street in Chicago and features both above- and below-grade parking as well as a 5,000 square-foot roof terrace.

This modern office building reflects its riverfront location with a design that emulates the flow of water with undulating fins fabricated from ALUCOBOND® PLUS aluminum composite material.

With a design targeted to achieve LEED® Gold certification, this building incorporates low-cost, high-efficiency materials to achieve significant improvements in performance, according to an architect’s statement. It is clad in heat-reducing glass shaded by the ALUCOBOND® PLUS fins, which are designed to mitigate solar gain, reduce glare in workspaces and increase daylight in communal areas.

“Sterling Bay presented us with a challenging and exciting opportunity that we tried to resolve with a sophisticated but simple design concept,” said Jorge Rovira, AIA, associate, SOM architects. “They asked us to create a design that would integrate the building with the river and that could be built efficiently. We investigated a mix of high-performance building materials to achieve LEED® certification. When we looked at the big picture for this design, we knew we wanted to bring light deep inside the space – while maximizing sustainability by controlling daylight – to create a better workplace. We introduced the idea of large ‘fins’ that would be shaped to reduce glare inside and offer an opportunity to reduce the window-to-wall ratio and incorporate more surface for insulation. Behind the fins, a well-proven unitized curtain wall would provide the enclosure.”

Created with approximately 28,240 square feet of 4mm ALUCOBOND® Plus in the Custom BMB Sunlight Silver Mica color, these undulating fins were designed with profiles that would move in and out from the building to meet changing glare control requirements, according to Rovira, who said the fins would also create the perception of long waves and reflect the movement of the river.

SOM engaged the engineering expertise of Sobotec Ltd., of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to work together to turn the vision for the facade fins into reality. Mid-States Glass and Metal, Inc., of Niles, Ill., partnered with Sobotec to work on the project with general contractor Power Construction Co., LLC, of Chicago.

"This was one of our more complicated projects," said Vlad Sobot, president, Sobotec. "Every single panel in a single row is unique – from the depth of the panel to the nose. The fins move horizontally and vertically across the building; they move in and out like a wave. Engineering was a big challenge as well as fabrication because these complex shapes required a bit of a twist in each unit. This design could not have been completed with any material other than ALUCOBOND. It is the only material that could have accommodated such complex shapes and it was as an economical choice for this project."

Read more about the complexity behind the fabrication and installation here!

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