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Bringing the Arts to Life: Elgin Artspace Lofts

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7 Feb 2018

The award-winning Elgin Artspace Lofts, which opened in 2012, transformed a 1908 Sears building into a hub for artists to affordably live and pursue their craft. Kalwall® shines a light on their collective works.

Kalwall translucent sandwich panels were retrofitted into an original skylight, bathing the main floor’s artist gallery in museum-quality daylighting™.

The City of Elgin partnered with Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that develops mixed-use buildings to promote the arts. There are 32 Artspace projects nationally; this is the third in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Bringing the Arts to Life: Elgin Artspace Lofts

The architect was BKV Group, which has offices in Chicago, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., and has experience with similar projects.

Together, they created a community space for artists and small businesses. Part of the Artspace mission is to provide artists with accessible and affordable housing.

The $15.2 million project integrates the historic building with a new three-story addition. Combined, there are 55 live/work units and 5,874 square feet of retail and community space for art-friendly businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The living units are on the second floor and the gallery is on the main floor of the twostory original building. The Kalwall skylight floods the space with diffuse natural daylight to showcase the art on display. By providing balanced, glare-free, and museum-quality daylighting, the Kalwall panels draw out the bold colors of each piece.

“The original skylight was an ideal way to introduce diffuse natural daylight into the setting, and Kalwall panels were a great retrofit solution,” says BKV’s Craig Carter, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Project Architect. “There is a soft, translucent quality that perfectly complements the art gallery.”

Kalwall panels also provide exceptional thermal performance and low solar heat gain, which fits into the project’s goal to be certified by Enterprise Green Communities.

Elgin has been working to preserve and enhance its downtown area, paying particular attention to the arts. The Eglin Artspace Lofts brings the city, which is just northwest of Chicago, one step closer to reaching this goal.

“The City of Elgin is really committed to bringing a vibrancy to downtown through the arts and introducing more residential housing into the area. Elgin Artspace Lofts was a great project that accomplished both goals,” Carter says. “By giving artists an affordable place where they can live, as well as a great space to show their works, you create a culture center. This project combined old and new to make something unique.”

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