Consulate General of Italy
Located on the 18th floor of a Michigan Ave. Office tower, the new 8000 sf offices for the Consulate General of Italy are designed to project a contemporary Italian image while solving the functional aspects of the new interior reorganization.
Extremely tight construction budgets of $27 per square foot forced the abundant use of inexpensive materials, like drywall, which were shaped and colored in such a way as to allude to the rich architectural and artistic traditions of Italy.
The baroque like curves of the canted walls in the reception area and of those within the administration area bring back memories of the traditional Italian piazzas in addition to the conjuring up of nautical images in tribute to the first Italian discoverers of the New World. Glistening Venetian stucco in three colors provides the only apparent touch of opulence within an otherwise simple, clean, crisp, and bureaucratically neutral color palette.
The reddish / ochre color represents the administrative functions (the Quirinale, the parliament building in Rome, has the same tone on its façade) and defines the waiting / reception zone and its administrative teller window areas.
A deep blue, just like the waters of the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Tirrenean seas is used as a backdrop for the reception and passport windows at the perimeter of the public area.
A cool green, like that of the hills and valleys within the Italian mainland, defines the consular section, incorporating the Consul’s office, his administrative assistant, a conference room and a VIP entrance.
Canted drywall forms provide visual interest while hiding indirect lighting. Other three dimensional architectural elements allude to a colonnade and define the consular wing. Curved metal forms suspended from the ceiling of the conference room and the consul’s private office continue the reference to Italian architectural forms and structures reinterpreted in modern materials.
In keeping with the very public nature of the consulate all individual offices have access to light and views as the actual spaces are pulled back from the building perimeter where the main corridor is placed. This has the effect of crating a public street where consular officers and their guests can visit with one another but still take advantage of the vistas offered by Chicago’s magnificent skyline.