JGMA turned to thermal-performance-meeting polycarbonate panels instead of glass windows for its KLEO Art Residences project located in Chicago’s Washington neighborhood in order to furnish an environment conducive to creative pursuits.
The polycarbonate panels stretch over 6,500 m2 (70,000 sf) of the building’s façade, creating the first-ever Chicago building exterior predominantly made of polymers.
Affordable art residences are not known for being beautiful, bright, and modern, given the budget constraints.
“Almost all of the artists said, ‘Why is it that I always get stuck in this affordable housing where they give me these little jail cell windows?’ When people talk about what’s really cool in apartments, they love to talk about materialistic things like stainless steel countertops. And they would tell me, ‘We just don’t care about that,'” said JGMA founder and president Juan Gabriel Moreno. He added, “How do we look at light in a profound way? That investigation led us to polycarbonate. The status quo says a glass window is too much money, but when you start exploring what natural light can mean, natural light isn’t just through a glass window.”
The two-panel architectural-grade polycarbonate system desig ners used in the building is known for providing even, and diffused natural light without compromising a space’s insulation requirements. Together with the building’s energy-efficient HVAC systems, appliances, and lighting, the KLEO Art Residences exceed the City of Chicago’s energy efficiency requirements.
KLEO seeks to provide mentorship to artists and eradicate violence through art, culture, and education. The mixed-use, mixed-income residence features 139 m2 (1,500 sf) of artist studio spaces, as well as 202 m2 (2,177 sf) of fitness and community gathering spaces and 448 m2 (4,824 sf) of ground-level commercial space.