Founded in 1984 by Chicago native David Rockwell and led by partners Shawn Sullivan and Greg Keffer, NEMA Chicago’s interior architecture partner, Rockwell Group, is an interdisciplinary firm that emphasizes innovation and thought leadership in every project.
In his award-winning work David Rockwell draws on theater, public space, and technology to express the one-of-a-kind qualities of each of his projects. For NEMA Chicago, the interior design is “100% Made in Chicago.”
“Chicago is the birthplace of American modernism in a lot of ways,” says Greag Keffer, who was the lead on the NEMA Chicago project. “For us, it was about respecting the classic grid of the city and the architecture you see downtown, and also the materials.” The design is heavy on concrete, metal, natural stone, and wood, reflecting the city’s industrial heritage. According to Keffer, “There’s a sort of honesty about its place and its design within Chicago.”
Literally rising from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago and its skyline present a uniquely diverse visual feast. Via a cadre of architectural geniuses, this modern iconic urbanscape is continually emerging.
The downtown Chicago apartments at NEMA Chicago are only separated by the open expanse of Grant Park from works by many of the early architectural greats, including the "Chicago Seven" of James Ingo Freed, Tom Beeby, Larry Booth, Stuart Cohen, James Nagle, Stanley Tigerman, and Ben Weese. NEMA Chicago doesn’t shy in the shadow of these brilliant works but continues the century-plus trend of innovative building and breakthrough design. One would expect nothing less from Rafael Viñoly, NEMA Chicago’s architect, who is internationally recognized for creating skyline landmarks, including New York’s 432 Park Avenue, the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere and one of the world’s most expensive addresses. And who better to complete that vision with perfect interiors than the Rockwell Group?
The founder and president of Rockwell Group, David has designed everything from international hotels and restaurants to the Tony Award-winning set for the Broadway revival of She Loves Me. It’s that breadth of inspiration and experience that pairs him perfectly with NEMA Chicago. Rockwell Group’s interiors at NEMA Chicago offer clean lines and strong materials reminiscent of the variety of textured but contemporary elements that interplay across the city via classical designs like those of Buckingham Fountain and The Art Institute and the plethora of Chicago School creations that were among the first to experiment with steel frames and open expanses of glass.
High ceilings are key to Rockwell Group’s design, providing the NEMA luxury downtown Chicago apartments with an airiness—a sense of elevation and grand proportion, courtesy of nine-foot+ high ceilings. Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows merge the interior comforts with scenic environments surrounding NEMA, contributing an uninhibited view. While the spaces are open, acoustic solid wood-core doors and blackout and sheer thermal shades give residents the option of full privacy inside their homes at the end of a long day. Six-inch wide-plank floors and Chicago-sourced custom cabinetry take you back to a time before the modern city, while custom-designed David Rockwell kitchen pendants remind you of the futuristic aspirations of the city’s visionaries.
Modern elements, a hallmark of this relatively “new” city, abound. All apartments are smart-home ready and outfitted with your comfort in mind. Lutron Caseta lighting and ecobee3 thermostats provide precise control, and Caesarstone countertops and seamless backsplashes make for easy maintenance and cleanup, though with a warmth that only stone accents can bring. Baths with polished-chrome Hansgrohe fixtures and Duravit sinks speak to the industrial age, while customizable Elfa closet organization brings to mind the same order as Chicago’s city grid.
In 1909, the influential architect Daniel Burnham published an ambitious Plan of Chicago that propelled many of the feats of design and urban planning that define the city. With Chicago’s “front yard” at the doorstep and the pantheon of the city’s renowned skyline surrounding it, NEMA Chicago is a continuation of the best that Chicago has to offer. Beautifully synced with Burnham’s master plan for the city, NEMA Chicago’s design is not only appropriate but complementary to the grand vision of Chicago. Iconic architecture by Rafael Viñoly, combined with thoughtfully curated interiors by the Rockwell Group, positions NEMA Chicago to become a classic in its own right.