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The Elements Way

You have a vision, or an ideal, of what you want your project to be. Then, come the realities – economics, aesthetics, codes, long term and short-term goals. Your considerations are numerous and seemingly opposed. And the ideal may get lost along the way.

You need collaborators who will balance efficiency with excellence.

And from start to finish, you’ll need an architectural firm that won’t shy away from a challenge. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and work on your behalf to create the building you want.

Through our experience, we’ve come to categorize project considerations into three segments or leaves—Art, Science and Economics. At the intersection of these three leaves is the heart of our work. By considering the entire picture simultaneously, continuously and collaboratively, we fully engage in making your project a success.

Critical thought, creative insight, design rigor, experience, and industry connections— in continuous pursuit of a building’s higher purpose—that’s The Elements Way.

 

The Elements Ethos

We begin with a respect and understanding that, as architects, what we create will be around for a long time, yet it’s a building’s meaning in peoples’ lives that is truly eternal. First and foremost, it should serve your intended purpose. From there, we strive to create something that positively affects the world now and for generations to come.

We believe a building has a responsibility to be both durable and beautiful.

We believe we have a responsibility to our clients to be both humble and tough.

We believe buildings are tools for lasting and sustaining experiences.

We believe in an inner readiness to see the good in all aspects of a project.

We believe in meeting technical requirements to make sure a structure works and stands the test of time and then exceeding these requirements so the building is also something magnificent to behold.

We believe in places that are experientially rich, yet timeless.

We believe in creating places that are born of the spirit, pay homage to the land, acknowledge owners’ needs, are free from preconceived notions and don’t need to point back to us.

We believe we are instruments of God, doing His work through our hands.

And finally, we believe the ultimate goal on every project is to translate our gifts into creating places that are truly life-giving, noble, beautiful and excellently constructed.

 

Art

Architectural Composition

When an architect considers the big picture of a project, they're using the concept of composition. We think through factors like how the building is positioned on the site, the functions within the building, the individuals interacting in the space and the furniture being used. It’s the parts that create the whole. We help make matter come together dynamically so that the site and the building reveal a larger landscape. When the composition is correct, there’s an undeniable feeling of comfort from the moment you experience it.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Proportion + Scale in Architecture

We have an innate sense of how dimensions, heights and clearances will affect building use; in this, we consider proportion and scale. It’s a thrill to play with the beauty and science of these properties. More than adhering to codes, we create spaces for people. Our work is intentional toward your individual experience and what you hope to get out of it.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm

Community Engagement

A building that fosters family, congregation and structural connection uses community as a focal point. We think of more than individual needs when creating a plan. We consider how everyone will interact in the space. We then look to foster the most connection possible (all the way up to the Divine) and to create movement in our lives and works. It’s the balance of togetherness and private contemplation.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Color in Architecture

Considerations of color are pulled from your own cherished objects, materials and furnishings. We also study the site and the natural elements, along with the borrowed or dynamic beauty surrounding it. Architecture should be a backdrop in your life, not something that overtakes it.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Beauty in Building Design

When we search for beauty, we search for God. Beauty is multi-layered; to limit beauty to visual attractiveness is too small of a vision and will lead to a space failing to deliver. The role of the architect is to reveal the beauty that lies underneath. To discover it. To frame it. To enhance it. To repair it if it is broken. And to preserve it if it is threatened.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

 

Poetic Concern

Architectural poetry is an exercise in rigorous refinement. Together, we’ll distill an idea, concept, plan or set of assumptions down to the most important aspects you want to see come alive in your project.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Materiality

If you want a dark, warm, wood in your space, then use a dark, warm wood, like walnut, rather than staining a lighter wood, such as oak, darker. This is the essence of architectural materiality. Of course, there are always exceptions, especially when an impact is desired.

Materials are the medium in which we create our art; much in the same way a sculptor uses clay. Architects today have so many options available that we use our own specific filter called Of the Place to help distill down materials appropriate for your plans.

Architecture materiality

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Light and Shade in Architecture

Nature derives light and shade. We look at the way buildings earn the light, build shade, maintain depth and richness and how it fits into the natural environment. Space and material are the mediums used to create light and shade. We understand the value of creating shade to buffer harsh environmental realities and make a space habitable.

We value light-filled spaces and strive to create them, throughout. And we strike a balance between openness and discretion—Let in light, while also keeping your domain private.

Architecture shade

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Science

Inside-Out

Our design philosophy is to create a space that grows out of how people interact with it  — from inside, to outside. We identify your living or working patterns to create a space that can meet your needs and the needs of your community. In other words, we listen to what you do in your space, hear what’s important, study the dimensions and scale the work to make artful design from the inside out. The results are often unexpected but always beautiful.

From a residential perspective, we can create rooms within rooms. This allows a smaller community (such as a husband and wife) to enjoy an intimate moment and not feel swallowed up by the largeness of the space. The same space will also accommodate a larger community when needed.

Commercially, we’ve done the same thing. For example, a church is a community environment that brings people together and yet, must accommodate the private contemplations of worshipers. A building shouldn’t get in the way of that. By doing the basics really well, such as heating and cooling, we can help move the building’s use to its intended highest level.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Warm + Dry

We create spaces that don’t detract from their intention: the connection of family, friends, co-workers and community. Using our "Warm + Dry" methodology, we place the comfort in any environment (house, restaurant, municipality or place of worship) amongst our highest design considerations.

While water is a life source, unintended water is the enemy. If a building isn’t detailed properly, water will end up where you don’t want it (walls, floors, etc.), which could lead to condensation and mold. We know others may design out easy fixes like caulking and sealants that can fail over time. Instead, we build to keep water out so that you can thrive for generations to come.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm

Fresh Air + Natural Ventilation

Well-designed buildings act as a complement to natural spaces. Fresh air, in conjunction with windows and doors, gives buildings a connection to the outdoors. Creating spaces that are a continuation of the ongoing exterior environment is our goal. Always above code, we believe building occupants should have access to fresh air through user-friendly, adjustable, operational means that are built into the architecture.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Codes + Details

The legal implications of building design (building, zoning, handicap, electrical, plumbing, etc.) are table stakes for us. With a dedicated code expert on staff, we not only comply but also exceed the minimum. Our responsibility is to the health, safety and welfare of each building’s occupants. After the minimum is covered, we then design and build a space with human flourishing as our main goal.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm

Energy Efficient Building Design

Being aware of energy expenditure goes beyond appliances. For us, it’s a design opportunity that looks at the environment in which you live and the economics of what you need. We take a high-level view by first understanding the site and the orientation of the space. From there, we consider every detail of the space (for example how many windows are needed? wanted? What type?) and drill down to the smallest details (like the energy efficiency of each bulb in every room). Our solution will be an intrinsic decision based on all these specifics working together to fulfill your own requirements.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm

 

Technical Finesse

A restaurant needed to address its acoustics and lighting; Our answer was to create an open slatted structure within the framework of a beautiful, warm ceiling. The slats allowed for sound to flow and a lighting moment to happen. Instead of addressing the two distinct problems separately, integrating our two challenges created an appealing solution. And even if you never looked up, the feeling achieved by the proper sound and lighting is evident when you experience the space. This is technical finesse in action. 

Technical finesse is the scientific side of poetic concern or poetic problem-solving. We examine all the scientific and technical aspects of a building and then take control of the seemingly opposed forces to create something extraordinary. Unless you’re looking for it, a lot of our technical finesse may go unnoticed because it’s human nature to not notice something that is working fluidly and without complication. Usually, when something is wrong, you will notice it right away.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm

Architectural Engineering Partnerships

By involving engineers early in the design process, we can collaborate and maintain a higher level of control. We won’t just hand over plans, cross our fingers and hope everything looks good upon completion.

As collaborative architects, working with a full team of people, we are with the project from beginning to end. Starting with our concepts, we tease out every possible solution and put our ideas to the test. We want to eliminate problems early so we don’t have a bigger challenge on our hands later. We don’t expect the engineer to figure out how to light a space. We work together to light the space, both technically and aesthetically so that in the end, you’ll have a product that is workable and beautiful. That is what we consider a true partnership.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm

Architecture Design Specifications

In the architectural process, design specifications are everything; They move the building concept into actual materials. The amount of detail on specs is up to the architect. For instance, did you know there are at least 20 different design decisions that could be made on a window alone? Some include the pane type, coating, slide, fixed screen, color, screen material, view levels, outside window pane color, inside pane color — and the list goes on.

With us, you’ll get specs that are handcrafted for each project based on the space’s intention. We are deeply committed to creating the right fit for every one of our clients. Most importantly, we have the credentials, technical expertise, and specialized skill sets to do what others don’t. We track cutting edge products to inform builders, not the other way around. You can be involved as much or as little as you like. The point is that we’re thinking about every one of these details so that the finished result is the perfect fit for you.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm
Economics

Architectural bidding

Competitive bidding keeps our drawings and specifications are incredibly thorough. By providing comprehensive detail, you can rest assured that every aspect of your space has been taken into account.

In other words, you can confidently take our plans to any builder, who will quote you based on actualities, not contingencies. Our plans are the essential ingredient to a successful partnership, because costs, materials and timing are so well defined.

Architect fees

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Sustainability

Sustainability in architecture is a dialogue on preservation, both of our world, and of ourselves. Elements Architectural Group is committed to unearthing sustainable architectural solutions as a wise investment for generations. From organic architecture to LEED homes, we strive for solutions transcending time, making the most out of your initial dollar. 

Choosing sustainable architecture means living responsibly for generations to come. Together with our team of green architects, Elements works to build conversations between the interior and exterior worlds, bringing the majesty of nature into breathtaking construction. 

View our portfolio to see a selection of our design work.
Contact us to start a conversation.

Sustainabile architecture firm

Reach out to our green architecture firm for more information.

Building Durability

Detailed planning and durable composition lead to the best possible architectural outcome, given the factors of weather wear, pressure or damage. The materials we select and how they come together is a critical part of our process. We are huge advocates for using historical best practices, time-tested materials and detailed techniques. What this means for you is that we won’t use materials based on trends or buzz in the marketplace. However, if you desire trying something new, we’ll outline the risks together so that you can make an informed decision.

If you are interested in a renovation project, our detailing skills are also applicable. Through our experience, we know what should be stripped away and what portions of an existing structure should remain.

Architecture durability

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Initial Fees

Construction costs, interior finishes and landscaping all fall under our initial architect cost. While this can be a challenging conversation to have, an honest assessment of initial costs is imperative to a successful partnership. We have budget conversations early and often. Through these frank discussions, we can help direct your resources to the most important parts of the project – the places you see, feel and experience.

Whether you have 50K to 50M to spend on your building, we are experienced in budget management. If your budget is tight or you have near unlimited spending, we value your money like it’s our own. Together, we’ll consider the return over time to make better sense (and cents) of your options.

If you plan on staying in a space for a shorter period of time, lower cost windows may make better sense…and cents initially.

Initial costs are one side of the cost consideration triangle; the full triangle encompasses initial cost, operational costs and maintenance costs.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm

Operational Cost

Running your building has a price. Operational cost refers to the money needed to keep your building functions as a residential or commercial space. When it comes to making quality decisions about materials and products to minimize future expenses, we are your advocates. Our diligence during the submittal period has an impact on operating costs and these incrementally end up saving you money in the long run. Our promise is to constantly look at the costs of the building as a whole, while also considering the costs of specific areas within a space.

Operational costs are one side of the cost consideration triangle; the full triangle encompasses initial cost, operational costs and maintenance costs.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Maintenance Cost of a Building

When making an initial budget, it's important to consider the future cost of maintaining your building. One way we can help reduce your long-term maintenance costs is by choosing durable materials made to last. Take, for example, our approach to shower caulking. We’ve perfected a way to detail the floor to wall connections so the caulking isn’t being exposed to water intrusion. Through this simple, copyrighted design tweak, which we employ on select projects, we instantly reduce maintenance costs.

Architectural maintenance costs

Another way to head off maintenance costs is through Contract Administration (CA). Most clients cannot be present on a site to make periodic inspections and confirm work is being completed to their satisfaction. Additionally, some of the innovative things we do, such as our caulking technique, do require a bit more explanation and translation. By offering CA and working with the builder on your behalf, we will help make sure that your expectations are met and the end result is what you had envisioned.

Maintenance costs are one side of the cost consideration triangle; the full triangle encompasses initial cost, operational costs and maintenance costs.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Architectural Schedule

Lead and schedule time is based on your needs, not ours. Our designs are never compromised if a short lead-time is necessary. We have the experience to work with any type of deadline and know which materials to choose based on timing. We also know how to approach a timeline and make it work efficiently for you. Our experience of working in many verticals means we know how to roll up our sleeves and collaborate with you for the best possible outcome. We have an inner readiness to help you achieve what you need. It’s at the heart of what we do.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.

Design Constructability

Every design needs a dose of reality to bring it to fruition. Constructability is the answer to how realistic our idea may be. By thinking through a project and rendering it in our plans before it is actually built means we get a better set of results and drawings. Simply put, our ideas are buildable. We know what the exact look and performance will be, which also results in better cost control.

We are also open to working with your builder to consider alternative materials and techniques. As long as we maintain the essence of our design, our plans can be modified to accommodate efficiencies and schedule to your benefit.

Let's start a conversation—reach out to our Chicago architecture firm.