Category Archives: Blog

Chicago’s Illustrious Architecture and Design History Should Give It the Nickname “The First City”

Chicago’s nickname “The Second City” is a subject of debate. Is it called this because the city became the second most populated city in 1890? Is it because Chicago is home to the nation’s second-largest skyscraper? Some feel it’s linked to the fact that Chicago had to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1871.

Despite its moniker, there’s one thing that Chicago boasts as a first. When it comes to architecture, Chicago is unbeatable. The first skyscraper in the United States, the Home Insurance Building, opened its doors in Chicago in 1885. Eventually, William LeBaron Jenney’s skyscraper would be demolished to make room for the LaSalle Bank Building/Field Building.

It’s the Great Fire that led to Chicago’s illustrious reputation as a leader in architecture. After the fire, the taller, stronger buildings popped up in the city. Before New York City had its first skyscraper, Chicago was well in the lead with five of them, all designed to be fireproof.

Explore Chicago’s Architectural History By Land or Water

Since the Home Insurance Building’s construction, Chicago’s streets have been lined with some of the world’s most stunning forms of architecture. It’s led to the foundation of the Chicago Architecture Center, a cultural organization that has saved history homes, offers tours, and provides residents and visits with a bounty of information about the city’s buildings. Since the Chicago Architecture Center’s foundation in 1966, the center has developed more than 85 city tours featuring architecture, a free Open House Chicago festival, and camps and programs.

One of those tours that locals and visitors cannot miss is the River Cruise. The 1 ½-hour cruise highlights some of Chicago’s greatest architecture from a luxury vessel. Guests see the Chicago Riverwalk, the London Guarantee Building, Merchandise Mart, and Tribune Tower to name a few of the highlights. Expert guides provide information into the city’s architectural features and history.

That covers the outside of a building, but what about the inside? Interior design is just as important to the look and feel of a building as the structural and architectural components. Chicago has also been a key player in trending interior designs.

Advancements in Comfort, Awareness, and Technology Drive Trends
in Architecture and Design

Since 1969, The Mart in Chicago has hosted The National Exposition of Contract Interior Furnishings (NeoCon). This convention brings top architects and designers together to showcase the industry’s trends. This pays tribute to The Merchandise Mart’s origins as a giant wholesale warehouse for home décor, fabrics, and furniture.

Some of the best interior design trends start trending after NeoCon. For example, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was formed in 1993 to push for sustainable design and building techniques and created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system for certification. In 2000, the first LEED constructions gained USGBC certification.

As homes became tighter to prevent icy winter drafts in the Windy City, air quality also became a concern. GreenGuard Indoor Air Quality certification came out in 2001. Concerns for the environment brought attention to building homes and businesses that were both energy-efficient and sustainable. That’s just one of the changes we’ve seen to interior design and architecture.

Technology is an important part of the Millennial and Gen Z lifestyle. Home designs that meet these needs are still trending. The number of people who work from home is increasing and with that comes a demand for apartments designed to be functional for both work and relaxation. There’s a movement towards designs that are aesthetically pleasing but offer conveniences like smart appliances, lighting, and security.

Today’s renter is looking for charging ports or charging pads in key areas. Kitchens, offices, bedrooms, and even bathrooms are ideal places for charging ports and pads. Furniture with built-in chargers is increasing in popularity. Lighting that reduces eye strain is vital.

Mixed-use developments are trending. Residents love the idea of having their own home with community areas like conference rooms, large public areas for networking and socializing. A bar area with pool tables for fun, areas set up for computers, and outdoor areas for family visits are all in demand.

On warm, sunny days, people want to be outside. Developments can cater to this with rooftop patios for gorgeous views, proximity to the city’s parks, waterfront, and entertainment district. Large windows for natural lighting also help with that feeling of being in the open.

Put it all together and architecture and design draw people. The Childs Dreyfus Group is a leader in all stages of planning and bringing your vision to life.

5 Futuristic “Smart” Trends That Are Impacting Student Housing Design & Planning Today

In a world where we are surrounded by technology, it’s no surprise student housing and generation Z students are demanding smart technology be incorporated not as an afterthought, but as a cornerstone of the design & planning phase.

Smart technology is shaping the very layout, structure, design, and functionality of new student housing.  Here are five ways these trends are impacting the market today.

Cashless Campus

Gone are bulky washers & dryers accepting quarters and old school vending machines.  Replacing them are sophisticated new technology units which accept credit cards, mobile payments, take up less space, and become a centerpiece in a room rather than an eyesore.

Student Security

With security at the top of everyone’s mind, technology is leading the way making campuses more secure.  Doors on campus are being designed to be integrated with mobile security access systems.  Layouts are more open by design, but also to increase the view of strategically placed security cameras.  Tech is shaping student security, and in a good way.

Constant Connectivity

Students today demand constant connectivity.  Designers are challenged with incorporating outlets in places never imagined before, WiFi hubs throughout all student housing to provide connectivity for more devices than ever, and replacing outdated technology like telephone outlets and even Ethernet ports with wireless charging bays, tables that charge your tablet while you work at them, and much more.

Personal Privacy

While social, students today also demand their private spaces.  Gone are the locker room style shared showers and bathrooms which are being replaced with individual personal bathrooms.  Technology is leading this charge enabling students to schedule time in key spaces which used to be shared and are now privatized.  And designers are tracking student behavior utilizing mobile devices, apps, and security to learn how to design the perfect student housing layout for tomorrow.

Going Green

Without a doubt, generation Z students demand everything be green.  From materials used to energy efficiency, everything about student housing is being designed and built to be greener.  Things like room occupancy sensors to turn on lighting, spray foam insulation to reduce energy on heating & cooling, and LED lighting to cut on electric use are being implemented to cast a green halo and attract to today’s new student.

These five trends are some of the most prevalent smart trends shaking up student housing, and require planning start during the design & planning phase and not once ground breaks.  Crossing these off your planning list will ensure a housing facility that students love for years to come.

Multiuse in Multifamily

According to Gallup, 43% of Americans spent at least some time working remotely last year, a four percentage point increase from 2012. Since technology has become readily available it has changed the concept of work being a stagnant place and demographics has changed lifestyle demands. While there are many multifamily trends to be watchful of in the Interior Design Business sector, one of the most important emerging is taking work needs into consideration when designing space. As the lines between work and home blur, technology creates opportunities to work from anywhere and people are doing just that.

Concierge space in your apartment building

Concierge-style services are the new amenity. From dog walking, delivery services, dry cleaning package handing, and laundry services to full-blown housekeeping, anything that will make the resident’s life easier and more convenient is where the real value lies. According to the NYdailynews, having concierge service has become so important, “most new condominium projects have some component of this in their program, and luxury buildings all offer such services.”  Concierge is here to stay as technology decreases wait times and attention spans and fosters speed, which is convenient for increasing out resident’s personal time.


The Chicago skyline will look a little different in the months and years ahead, in part because of the 44 high-rise buildings that are currently under construction in the Windy City. What can you expect from this building boom? Here are some of the most interesting projects—and trends—taking place in Chicago:

Condo Development

Although the condo market has not completely recovered from the recession, it is starting to show signs of life. One of the most interesting condo projects is the Vista Tower, which will actually consist of both hotel rooms and condos. The first 12 floors of the building will be allocated to the hotel, while floors 13 through 93 will feature luxury condominiums. Every unit is designed to take your breath away, but the showstoppers, known as “Sky Residences” are on floors 71 through 91. These residences will feature high ceilings, incredible views, and a hefty price tag. The top two levels of the building will be combined to form a duplex penthouse that is expected to list at $18 million.
Residents inside Vista Tower will have access to a fitness center, pool, private dining area, wine storage and tasting facility, and screening room, among many other amenities. All of these amenities are available on the building’s 47th floor and will be open to both hotel guests and permanent residents.

Retail Space

Most of the buildings that are being developed will feature rental units or office space, but there are a handful that will have plenty of room for retailers as well. The Hudson, which is will be located in River North, will consist of 240 rental units along with 10,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor of the building. This development is just a short walking distance away from a number of tech startups and established companies such as Groupon, so it will certainly be a desirable place to live.

The high rise that will call 465 N. Park home will also make room for retailers. The initial plans show the developers have allocated over 11,000 square feet for retailers and commercial space. Another project at the corner of Wabash and 11th Street will also invite retailers in, but only 3,500 square feet of this building will be spared for retail businesses.

Energy Efficiency

Green living has become more of a priority for today’s renters and buyers, and developers in Chicago have certainly taken notice. Many of the buildings that are still under construction will feature green amenities, but one of the most intriguing is the Solstice on the Park. The glass face of the building will alternate at 71 degree angles to increase the energy efficiency inside of each unit. How does it work? The glass is designed to alternate in a way that allows tenants to soak up the small amount of sunshine during the winter and create a bit of shade during the hot summer months. The result? In the summer, less heat will transfer into the building and in the winter, more heat will transfer into the building. This means tenants won’t have to crank down the air conditioner in the summer or dial up the heat in the winter to stay comfortable, which should lead to energy savings and lower utility bills.

Natural Amenities

Fitness rooms and resort-style pools are two of the most popular amenities found in high rise buildings in major cities like Chicago. Although these amenities will most definitely be included in these projects, developers have also found a way to transform nature into a desirable amenity as well. The highly-anticipated Riverline development is just one of the projects that celebrates nature. The 8 waterfront buildings that make up Riverline will be adjacent to over 3.5 acres of open green space and a landscaped walkway along the river. Tenants can either make use of the open space or find peace and quiet strolling alongside the river.

Several projects, including the Lakeshore LDS Meetinghouse and development at 625 W. Adams St, feature rooftop terraces where tenants can take in the scenic views and enjoy the outdoors.

Low Rises Into High Rises

Where did developers find the land to construct these new buildings? In many cases, the high rise buildings that are currently under construction will replace old low rise buildings. A 39-story tower will be constructed on a piece of land that was formerly occupied by Gino’s East restaurant, a small pizza place. CNA Financial will soon anchor an upscale office building at 151 N. Franklin that used to be home to a Walgreens and small parking lot. Take one look at the before and after pictures and you will be amazed by the transformation.

Entertainment District Development

The area around the McCormick Place Entertainment District is slowly beginning to take shape. The development located at 123 E. Cermak will feature three hotels, which are rumored to be Hampton Inn, Home2 Suites, and Hilton Garden Inn. There’s also the 1,206-room Marriott Marquis hotel, which will rise 39 stories into the air despite initial plans that showed the hotel would consist of 51 stories. These are just two of the projects that are slowly breathing life into the Entertainment District, which should be a major attraction for Chicago residents and tourists once it is finished. The district will also feature plenty of space for retailers and a modern arena to host events and conferences. Although it will still be quite some time before the district is complete, Chicago residents should be excited about what’s to come in this area.

Once these projects are completed, they will without a doubt inspire the rest of the developments still under construction in Chicago. If you are interested in collaborating on a future project, contact us today to learn how we can help.


Major cities across the United States have become more populated, and as a result, rental rates have skyrocketed, leaving many people unable to afford life in the city. In fact, it is estimated that about two-fifths of Americans are affected by the rental housing burden, which is defined as spending at least 35% of your monthly income on rent. In response to the outcry over rising rental prices, developers began to put their heads together to come up with a way to make housing in urban areas more affordable. The result? Micro-housing, also known as stack housing or apodments, are units that are around 350 square feet or smaller. This trend has taken over major metropolitan areas all over the country, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The Appeal of Micro-Housing

The thought of living in an apartment smaller than 350 feet may not sound appealing to everyone, but many find it perfect for their lifestyle. Renters who are eager to live in the center of the city are willing to sacrifice space in exchange for location. Micro-housing units are typically located in the heart of major cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, and Houston, among many others. The location makes it easier for renters to commute to work and visit popular attractions within the city, which is more important to some people than the size of their apartment. Most renters who are attracted to this type of home plan on spending a lot of time outside of their apartments, so they don’t value the size of the apartment as much as other people.

But, not everything in a micro-housing building is small. Many of these buildings make up for the small apartments by increasing the size of common areas. For example, universities have started to build micro-units instead of traditional student housing. Each student is given a small unit with enough space to study, sleep, and cook small meals, but if they need to use the restroom, stretch their legs, or lounge on a comfortable couch, they have to make their way into one of the common areas. These student housing buildings, along with many other micro-unit buildings, encourage tenants to socialize with others in the common areas instead of spending all of their time in the micro-units. This is one more reason why tenants—especially young, single renters—are attracted to the idea of micro-unit housing.

Micro-housing has also been called a more energy efficient way of living in urban areas. How does a micro-unit save energy? In standard multi-family buildings, each tenant will have a unit with a refrigerator, dishwasher, and other appliances that use a great deal of energy. However, micro-housing buildings typically have several community kitchen areas, but don’t have much space in each individual unit for kitchen appliances. This means there aren’t as many appliances in the building and less energy is used overall.

Some renters choose to live in micro-units because they want to live a simpler life. One renter who was interviewed by USA Today said he prefers living in these smaller apartments because it prevents him from holding onto material possessions and becoming a hoarder.

As rent prices increase, not only does it make rental properties more unattainable for many people, but it also makes it harder for these people to work towards owning a home one day. Why? The more they spend on rent every month, the less they have to put aside in savings for a down payment. This is why some tenants choose to sacrifice space to live in micro-units so they can pay lower rent and save up for a down payment on a home. For this group of people, living in a tiny space is a small price to pay to achieve their dream of owning a home.

Design of Micro-Units

Choosing the right location is crucial if you are in the early stages of developing a micro-unit building. Micro-housing must be located in an area where rents are unaffordable, otherwise developers will have to compete with other affordable units that may be larger in size.

When planning a micro-unit building, it’s important to pay extra attention to the community areas. Because the individual units are so small, potential tenants will be determining which building to live in based mainly on the community areas. The community space should include an area for preparing food, dining, watching TV, studying in groups or alone, and socializing.

Micro-unit developers should also cater to those who work remotely. Remote workers will
probably not be able to stay confined to their micro-units during working hours, so they will need a place to work within the common areas.

Many developers believe micro-units are perfect for recent college graduates who need to live in the city for work, but aren’t financially ready to rent a larger apartment. Developers may want to consider targeting areas with large universities so they can appeal to recent college graduates who may be interested in a micro-unit.

The Future of Micro-Units

Even though micro-units were initially designed to deal with the overcrowding and affordability issues in large cities, the trend is slowly making its way into smaller areas. Des Moines, Iowa and Kalamazoo, Michigan are just two of the more rural areas that will have micro-housing units available to potential tenants. This could mean that micro-housing isn’t popular because it solves the problem of the rising cost of rent, but rather that it is what today’s tenants want from a multi-family building.

Micro-housing may be seen as more affordable to renters, but it’s still profitable to developers. A micro-unit in Seattle can rent for between $500 and $1,000 per month, and because developers can fit more units into each building, they can easily profitable off of this tiny trend.

Interior Architecture Firm The Childs Dreyfus Group (CDG) Introduces Vice President Of Interior Architect/Design And Vice President Of Operations/Business Development

CHICAGO, March 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Childs Dreyfus Group, an interior architecture/design firm located in Chicago, Illinois, had a great 2016 and is positioned perfectly to see additional growth and success in 2017. The growth created an opportunity to enhance the leadership, talent and culture, specifically, with a new Vice President of Interior Architect/Design and Vice President of Operations/Business Development.

Christina Bidegain joined the leadership team as Vice President of Operations in mid-2016, and brings a mix of leadership, inspiration, operational experience, and design background to the position. She will work together with the rest of the leadership team to drive the company’s growth and enhance customer service, business development and efficiency.

The firm’s new Interior Architect, Amir Al Abosy, joined The Childs Dreyfus Group in late 2016, but he has been in the industry since 1990. Over the past several decades, he has occupied high-level positions in architectural firms all around the world, including New Zealand, Jordan, Iraq, and the United States. He is well known within the industry and belongs to various professional organizations, including the American Institute of Architects. Amir is also a LEED accredited professional and has been certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He brings a diverse and impressive skillset to The Childs Dreyfus Group that will help the firm surpass all of their clients’ expectations.”

“In total, we have hired six highly qualified, LEED and REVIT certified new team members who we feel have greatly improved our already impressive staff as a whole,” says The Childs Dreyfus Group’s CEO, Rene Pabon. “We have experienced rapid growth over the last 12 months, and are excited to bring these team members aboard to help us continue to grow our business and provide exceptional service to our clients.”

Spotlight on Community: The Residences at Two Liberty

Located in one of the tallest residential buildings on the east coast, these high-end, luxury high-end, luxury condominiums occupy the top 30 floors of a re-purposed 67 story office building. The units embody a European style and details like European kitchens cabinets, marble baths, built-ins, hardwood floors, custom mill-work, and floor to ceiling windows. The dramatic, full floor-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of downtown Philadelphia and the removal of the interior walls create areas of detail and functionality created with through the intricate mill-work.

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Multifamily Design Trend Predictions for 2017

Childs Dreyfus was recently a contributor to an article on Dwell, a website dedicated to housing, real estate, and building trends.

Multifamily interior designers look forward to the beginning of every new year because they get the opportunity to predict design trends and find a way to incorporate them into their work. What should you expect if you plan on moving into a multifamily building this year? Here are the trends designers are expecting to see throughout the year.

To view the full article, visit 

Student Housing Trends: The Past, Present, and Future

Prospective students look at much more than just what programs a school has to offer before enrolling. These days, students want to know what kind of life they will be living if they choose to attend the university, which means they are looking closely at on campus and off campus student housing. How has this shift in priorities affected current student housing trends? What can students expect to see in the future? Take a look at the past, present, and future of student housing:

The Past

When you think of student housing, visions of concrete walls and flat, uncomfortable beds may come to mind. Students used to have fairly low expectations for student housing, but that’s all changed now. In the past, students expected modest rooms either on or off campus that were available at a low price. Students didn’t have much space, so besides sleeping, they did most of their activities outside of their living area. Dining took place in the campus dining halls, and studying was done in the libraries.

In both on campus and off campus housing, amenities were limited. Students typically had access to basic common rooms with seating areas and televisions, and standard sized pools and fitness rooms.

In the past, off campus apartments were not designed with students in mind, which is why they didn’t have the same atmosphere and amenities that today’s housing options offer.

The Present

Today, student housing has become much more luxurious, so prospective students no longer have to dread moving away from home to begin school. In fact, they can look forward to it! Many student housing facilities now offer resort-style amenities, including yoga studios, spacious fitness centers, saunas, basketball courts, tennis courts, and of course, pools with covered cabanas and lounging chairs. Developers have also started to include more places for residents to socialize together, such as on-site coffee shops or snack bars.

What do students want inside their apartments? The majority of college-aged students want large bathrooms, vast study spaces, plenty of storage space, and easy access to a washer and dryer. Today’s students are also more eco-conscious than previous generations, so they will be on the lookout for green features inside their apartments. Think smart home features such as Bluetooth integration and eco-friendly lighting that allow students to reduce their energy usage and still be technologically forward-thinking. Students will also appreciate units with green materials like bamboo, reclaimed wood, and even recycled glass countertops, which have recently made a comeback because of their sustainability and unique look. Even though college students want eco-friendly living spaces, they may not understand what LEED certification is, so promoting a building using this term may not be effective.

Technology is also an important part of today’s student housing. Students need fast and reliable internet access that they can use regardless of where they are in the building. Common areas should also have places to charge smartphones, tablets, and laptops, in case study sessions run longer than expected. Because both students and parents value security, student housing with video screens that show you who is at the front door have also become popular.

The Future

Students living off campus want to stay close to school so they don’t have to travel far to go to class. But, there is a limited amount of real estate available near campuses, and as a result, developers have started to build high-rise apartment buildings to accommodate more students in the limited space.

Another trend in off-campus student housing is micro-housing. Instead of having traditional rooms with two beds, dorms will feature one bed, along with a small space to study and prepare food. Students will be able to sleep, study, and eat within their rooms in a micro-housing design, but they will have to venture outside of their space to use the common restroom or lounge in larger living areas. Micro-housing frees up a lot of space so schools can focus on expanding the size of common areas while still giving each student the privacy they need. Common areas will be large enough to have separate places to watch TV, socialize with friends, or meet with a tutor for help with homework.

In fact, common areas will be incredibly important in future student housing designs. Classrooms are becoming more collaborative, which means students are being sent home with group projects and homework assignments that they must work on together. Both on and off campus student housing should have multiple study rooms to accommodate this growing trend.

Some industry experts believe that hybrid projects will be popular for on campus student housing as well. A hybrid project puts student housing and classrooms, student unions, or libraries in the same building. Essentially, students would be able to live and attend class in the same building, which makes student living more convenient.

Student housing developers will choose modern, edgier architectural designs to appeal to the younger market. Luxury will still be a main selling point, as well as sustainability. But, as more developers begin to incorporate luxurious amenities into their designs, new buildings will have to go above and beyond to differentiate themselves from the competition. More unique amenities, such as recording studios or built in retail shops and restaurants, will begin to appear in higher end, off campus student housing.

Of course, developers will have to find a balance between staying competitive by offering desirable amenities and remaining affordable to the average student. Students—or their parents—will pay more in exchange for luxury and security, but they will still be working within a budget.

When designing student housing, it’s important to incorporate elements of the present while also looking towards future trends. This way, you can create a building that will remain appealing to students for years to come.