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02.25.2013
Design at Work> Coyote Logistics
Chicago-based Partners by Design repurposes an old factory to create an energy-filled office space.
Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing

When transport logistics company Coyote Logistics needed an architect for its new home base, it delivered just one directive to Chicago-based interior design firm Partners by Design (PBD): Foster the Coyote buzz.

“The key concept we were told to focus on was this energy that they had,” project architect Scott Becker said. Coyote, after all, was fresh off a rebranding that had exchanged its half-moon logo for that of a stylized coyote head. The company needed a base befitting its meteoric rise to more than half a billion dollars in revenue.

Coyote optimizes freight-hauling networks by consolidating information to eliminate “empty miles” along trucking routes. In a nod to that mission, PBD used deconstructed shipping pallets as decorative latticework throughout the fifth floor it recently completed for the company.

 
A seating area provides a punch of color (left). A rugged metal staircase unites the floors (right).
 

Phone banks and dual-screen computer bays pack much of the rest of the110,000 square feet that now house Coyote in the Green Exchange building on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Once an underwear factory, the industrial structure was rehabbed into a LEED Platinum home for environmentally friendly businesses. Large concrete columns break up rows of desks on the third and fourth floors so the space does not feel crowded, despite the above-average density of 80 square feet per person.

The young company moved from the northern suburb Lake Forest to the city to reflect the age of its workforce, as well as its youthful energy. “You can see a huge jump in sophistication, graphically, and spatially, since their Lake Forest offices,” Becker said.

Coyote asked PBD to add an 11,000-square-foot lounge area to the fifth floor. The team first explored a sleek metallic and “grungy urban” look before arriving at the idea of a “Coyote den,” Becker said.

   

RESOURCES:

Carpet
Interface
Lighting
Axis
Seating
Allsteel
Surfaces
Arpa
Corian
Tile
Virginia Tile
Wallcoverings
MDC
Work Stations
Steelcase

Clockwise: The offices are in a converted factory building; a lowered ceiling gives the reception area scale; the sunny cafe area; a typical conference room.
 

“When you step off the elevator,” he continued, “you’re stepping into the ‘woods.’” Walking past a birch tree-patterned wall emblazoned with the company logo, on the elevator landing, employees encounter a stunning view of the Chicago skyline on their left. To the right, a lounge area features couches, chairs, and ping pong and billiards tables that fan out around a 20-foot bar, also adorned with the Coyote logo.

Most of the workspaces are collaborative, reflecting the rapidly growing workforce and high-energy atmosphere of the office. Media zones positioned throughout the office function as temporary meeting spaces for five or six people. Employees shift places frequently, but always end up in the path of daylight. “Almost anywhere you are,” Becker said, “you can see a window.”

The casual lounge area abuts a boardroom separated by a movable glass wall. An array of industrial light fixtures hangs above the conference table, which is made from local reclaimed wood that features smooth, irregular edges. It’s a den any coyote would come home to, after a hard day running with the pack.

Chris Bentley

 

 
Deconstructed shipping pallets add texture to the office (left). The new light-filled offices are designed to provide a youthful energy (right). A large lounge area on the fifth floor (below).