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Bridgeport Innovation Center

Manufacturing Platform

Winner for Chicago Woman in Architecture Award and 1st Place for AIA Chicago Awards in Architecture 2018

Design Team: Junghyo Woo, Keigo Yamazaki, Graham Bowman

Chicago, IL, USA

Jan. 2018 - Apr. 2018

Illinois Institute of Technology 

Instructor: Tom Brock


The assignment called for an institutional building located in the northwest portion of the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago. This project is a continuation of a previous semester’s redevelopment plan in the same area. The program requirements called for a “Place for Making”; a building that would be, due to its place in the community, hybrid in nature. The given site, located on the Eastern edge of the aforementioned Bridgeport Redevelopment Plan, is long and slender, with two very opposite conditions on the Northwest and Southeast faces. To the Northwest is the Southern branch of the Chicago River and a planned riverwalk that runs the length of the neighborhood. The Southeast has less ideal conditions: the CTA Orange line and I-55 are immediately across the street from the site, sitting on a berm 15’ above grade.


The solution, dubbed The Bridgeport Innovation Center, is a 113,000 SF co-making and coworking facility. The building seeks to build a community of creators within Bridgeport and the greater Chicago area by providing a platform for making, innovating, and community involvement. In response to the long, slender site, the building takes the shape of a 540-foot-long continuous manufacturing hall with spaces for fabrication, prototyping, electronics and a micro-factory for small production runs. Inspiration was taken from historical production fl oors, where a centralized “control room” was often elevated above the working fl oor so that administrators could observe the production process. Likewise, rather than interrupt the continuous manufacturing fl oor, co-working programs in the Innovation Center are lifted from the space to be suspended from the ceiling. Where the historical relationship between the elevated programs and the manufacturing fl oor used to be one between employer and employee, in the Innovation Center it becomes the relationship between making with your mind and making with your hands. In response to the site, the building is entirely one-directional, prioritizing the riverfront while sacrifi cing its southeast side as “servant space”. Less-desirable program elements such as mechanical spaces, vertical circulation, and toilet rooms are stacked along that edge and serve the more important co-making and suspended co-working spaces. The building’s portal frame truss structure also responds to this asymmetry, using the SE side of the building as a large shear wall in order to minimize structure size along the NW side. By treating the river as its front face and utilizing the riverwalk as community event space, the Bridgeport Innovation Center expresses the Chicago’s River’s industrial heritage in a new light through the shared spirit of making. ID 860 In order to intensify the visual eff ect of the suspended co-working program, the required program elements are atomized into individual boxes. These “component program” elements are serialized and display function and number on their exterior. The specifi c, sometimes quirky, uses in the components each support a larger, more general use. These general usage zones are placed within a hierarchy, with public community functions towards the more active plaza on the West end of the building and more private functions towards the less active East end. At the center of the building, the height of the suspended catwalk and program dips signifi cantly over the Prototyping and Electronics zones on the manufacturing fl oor. This achieves two purposes. The fi rst is to create a curve for the eye to follow that accentuates the hanging program when viewed from the the building’s north face. The second is to help break up the continuous 540-foot sight line across the manufacturing fl oor. In contrast to the completely glass Northwest face, the Southeastern facade is heavy and solid. This precast concrete brise soleil shelters the offi ces and other “servant spaces” from harsh summer sun. A set of 5 precast panels are arranged to create a pattern across the elevation. These panels are mounted to a steel frame, which is held in place between the vertical, cast-in-place ribs. A continuous 10” edge width is maintained at the top, bottom, and vertical rib edges, visually connecting the brise soleil with the blade-like roof overhang on the northern face.

Manufacturing Platform

The Bridgeport Innovation Center is a 113,000-square-foot co-making and co-working facility at the northeast end of the Roots + Seeds redevelopment plan. The building seeks to build a community of makers within Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood and the greater Chicago area by providing a platform for living, making, and innovating. The building features a 540-foot-long, continuous manufacturing hall with spaces for fabrication, prototyping, electronics, and a small microfactory. The office programs, rather than interrupt that manufacturing floor, are lifted from the space to be suspended from the ceiling. The building is one directional, prioritizing the riverfront while using the southeast wall to house less-desirable program elements such as mechanical components and restrooms. By utilizing the riverfront as its community event space, the Bridgeport Innovation Center can share its spirit of co-working and co-making with the local community. 

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