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Integrated Architectural Design
Each structure of the three-part complex that is the Christy Webber Landscapes’ headquarters is configured as a rectangle with its longest side facing south — the optimal choice for sun exposure. Combined with a slender footprint and high ceilings, maximum advantage is taken of natural light within the building. Flexibility in controlling solar heat gain has been optimized by supporting architectural elements.

The CWL complex is actually three separate buildings: Two long rectangles connected at one end by the “link” building. This set forms an open ended courtyard with views to downtown Chicago. The largest of these, the warehouse building (10,000 sf), is located to provide access to and from the CWL storage yard north of the complex. The southern-most rectangle is the main office wing. Fronting on the public loop street, is the public entry point.

The northern rectangle is a pre-manufactured steel building that is used for storage and maintenance functions. The link building includes offices for CWL company officers, a break room, a conference room, and access stairway to the roof-top greenhouse.

The long buildings, the office and the warehouse, are oriented to take advantage of a basic principle: rectangular buildings oriented in an east/west direction use less energy – up to 20% less – than the same building with the long access running north/south. The southern sun is much easier to manage. Eastern and western light comes in low and penetrates deeply. On the CWL building, the south façade of both of these longer structures is critical to energy use.

  • East-West building orientation maximizes natural light while minimizing energy use.
  • Mechanical ducts double as light shelves to increase natural light penetration.
  • Exposed structure minimizes building materials and finishes.



  • Solar panels at entry provide winter sun and summer shading to windows behind.
  • Rooftop greenhouse assists in preheating internal air, minimizing utility costs.