Pt 2 / Case Studies


Marwens Expansion

Located in Chicago's River North neighbourhood, Marwens was founded 28 years ago to inspire young people through visual arts. The organization believes that making art can transform lives and that every young person has the right to those opportunities. The school serves over 900 students each year with classes free of charge. In 2014, Wheeler Kearns Architects took on the expansion project proposed by the school. The expansion included a new entry and parking court, a multi-use space, and an additional 15,000 square feet of new and/or renovated studio spaces.

 Photo by Steve Hall

Photo by Steve Hall


Public Presence

One of the main goals Wheeler Kearns Architects set out to achieve was creating stronger presence in the community. Prior to the expansion, Marwens had no public presence, and hardly any way to share its students work. With this new expansion, Marwens is now able to present it's mission and vision to the public simply by occupying their new space. At the same time of the expansion, the school began displaying student work publicly. This forged new ties between the school and the community it serves.



The Pratt Institute:

Higgins Hall Insertion

The Pratt Institute is a world renowned school for art and design. The Brooklyn campus offers students a lab of creativity and craft. Higgins Hall is the wing of architecture for the school. Steven Holl Architects took on the project solely with the students in mind. There goal was to create a functional and inspiring space that would help shape the minds of future graduates. 



A major component of this project was bringing light into the studio spaces. Lighting workspaces positively impact the people using them. The challenge was bringing daylight into the lower levels. The architects accomplished this using a "two throated skylight" (shown above). The skylight was strategically designed to optimize the daylighting throughout the building, all year around. This was done by carefully calculating the angle of which the sun would enter the skylight all year round (shown in section below).