Starbuck’s Debuts New Design Concept Inside Chicago’s Block 37 Development

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Designer O’Kelly Kasprak Delivers an “L” Inspired Starbuck’s that is Centered on Chicago and Located in the Heart of Chicago’s Downtown Commute

Design inspiration for the new Starbuck's in Chicago's Block 37 development came from an Art Deco poster of the “L" train.

The bustling pedestrian walkway between two busy train lines provides the backdrop for this colorful store.

The iconic “L” train is the impetus for a sleek new design concept for Starbuck’s that recently debuted inside Chicago’s Block 37 development. The project team, led by O’Kelly Kasprak Architecture and Starbuck’s Corporate, put an original, Chicago inspired spin on the long-awaited Starbuck’s store located in the lower level pedway – the central hub for the city’s daily commuters. With a superstation that connects the Blue and Red lines serving as the cornerstone of the Block 37 development, the architects set out to assimilate the environment.

“The bustling pedestrian walkway between two busy train lines provides the backdrop for this colorful store,” said Starbuck’s Coffee Company Design Manager Doug Stanesa. “Inspiration came from an Art Deco poster of the “L.”

By opening the storefront, the designers have integrated the space into the daily path of commuters. The result is a functional store built for accommodating high-volume, emphasized by designated standing areas and no seating. Design inspiration points include: adaptations of red and blue colors motivated by the Red and Blue transit lines; a green metal bar in front which incorporates the Starbucks brand color; wood paneling, clean lines and metal wall trims representing movement based on the developmental age of the transit system; and early promotional posters advertising the groundbreaking “L” trains.

“It was an honor to work with the Starbucks design team and to bring their design vision to life,” said O’Kelly Kasprak Project Manager Karen Couch. “The success of the project and the design can be attributed to the efficient communication and proficient collaboration between the Starbucks team, Lankford Construction, and O’Kelly Kasprak.”

The biggest design challenge for the architectural team in addition to integrating the storefront with the high traffic pedway zone was the technical negotiation of transit tunnels directly below the space (i.e., the non-ability to drain/run lines below the floor surface). The tunnel running underneath the majority of the store’s footprint required “a lot of ingenuity and team work” between the engineers, the contractor and the architect to ensure that the integrity of the Starbuck’s design was maintained.

“We had to get creative and come up with some unconventional solutions,” said O’Kelly Kasprak Founding Principle Belinda O’Kelly, who thought her team was a great match with the Starbuck’s design team. “The result is something everyone involved with the project is really excited about. A Starbuck’s that is centered on Chicago and located in the heart of Chicago’s downtown commute.”

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Jody Grimaldi
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