Open Forum



What do you get when you take a historical building, add some upscale apartments and then wipe the slate clean? Larry Booth's design of Chicago's newest luxury residences in the storied Palmolive Building. When Booth, a nearly 40-year veteran of architecture and design, and his firm, Booth Hansen Associates in Chicago, were asked to design the apartment homes that would be added in place of former offices in an adaptive reuse of the Palmolive Building, he decided on one necessary element: quality. It would be up to the building's future residents to do the rest.

"We wanted to create an interior that had enough delicacy to it that you could use any kind of furniture," Booth says. "The goal was a space whose character and quality of detail would accept a wide variety of design interiors." Booth says that the target resident for the Palmolive Building—which once housed its namesake company along with other corporate offices—is a well-educated, stylish but classic urban single; someone who is busy, successful and sophisticated, and therefore needs a warm, calm space to come home to.

To achieve this goal, Booth created a "sense of space and freedom" by lining up the doorways to the kitchen, living room and bedroom in the apartments so that the rooms have the appearance of flowing together. In the bedroom, Booth used a strong red color in the space designed to fit a bed to lend warmth to the room. The kitchen was given a more modern and energetic dynamic with the use of black cabinetry and stainless steel accents and appliances. Booth says he wanted the living room to be light and open, central to the space, so he didn't add much color or surfacing elements to the main room. Throughout each apartment, white oak flooring and custom ceiling detail were used, tying together the light, open design. "The overarching statement is quality," he explains. "The style comes from the quality of the materials and construction details."

Booth says the ready-to-personalize design of the apartment homes—the first of which will be ready this spring, with the remaining completed by 2006—has been extremely well-received by people involved in the project and interested future occupants."Everybody seems to be enthusiastically buying into this concept," he says. "It's the idea of creating interiors that free people up."