The new Swiss Consulate in Chicago occupies a west-facing 140 m2 suite on the 38th floor of the iconic 100-storey 875 North Michigan Avenue – formerly the John Hancock Center.

The Swiss Consulate, which received a Citation of Merit at the 2021 AIA Design Excellence Awards in Chicago, has been designed in collaboration with Kwong Von Glinow in the spirit of Swiss architect Otto Kolb (1921-1996), who lived, worked and taught in Chicago from 1947 to 1960. To us Kolb’s fresh take on modernism, which includes a blurring of formal hospitality and privacy, goes beyond Swissness and symbolises architecture for exchange.

Our design approach intentionally questioned the rigidity of consular requirements by adding organic forms and layering spaces through sections and transparencies. This provided a contemporary working environment that respects needs while also inviting for spontaneous collaborative working situations. With a floor-to-ceiling height of 4.4 metres and nearly uninterrupted sight lines, the suite was developed as one fluid space.

The Green Core mediates the individual working areas of each of the consular staff and the areas where they come together as a team. The light-filtering architectural elements act as mediators between the more public area and the back-office areas of the consulate, a quality further emphasised with plants that poke through the screen, blurring the boundary of the core.