2010 Design Excellence Awards - Distinguished Building Honor Award
Optima Old Orchard Woods
February 1, 2011
Architect: David C. Hovey, FAIA
Client: Optima Old Orchard Woods LLC
Contractor: Optima, Inc.
Consultants: CS Associates, Inc. (structural engineering)
In massing, it's urban, but in setting, suburban. Old Orchard Woods is three interlocking towers that together contain 650 residential units and is sited to take in magnificent views west over a wooded forest preserve, east to Lake Michigan, and southeast to Chicago's skyline. "It's an urban utopian vision," one juror observed. "It's the machine for living, in a garden," said another. They lauded the architect's deft sculpting of enormous masses with cutouts, terraces and other relief. "The layering and the voids give it a strong relationship to its natural setting that is difficult to achieve with a project [that is] so large." The two big terrace platforms and the glass-walled swimming pool area drew special merit, for maximizing residents' enjoyment of the natural setting that neighbors their homes. Jurors heartily complimented the broad-brush design moves of the buildings, such as their rigorously organized patterns of concrete and mullions that "elevate a mundane curtain wall [into] a beautiful thing." They also zeroed in on the "very nice, truly simple glazing system" that clarifies the faces of the buildings.