To fully appreciate the innovation of the Chicago digital startup scene, we also have to appreciate the spaces that inspire it. Here are the 8 coolest offices of digital companies in Chicago (in no particular order). Did we miss someone? Let us know by emailing [email protected]
Morningstar (22 W Washington)
(Photo credits to Mario Carrieri)
In Morningstar’s open-office space, all employees have identical workstations (with no walls or cubicles to separate them) that feature recyclable glass, stainless steel, aluminum, and wood. Keeping up with their environmental pledge, the space’s ceiling tiles are made from 70 percent recycled content. In addition to a 210-person auditorium and an on-site TV studio, Morningstar’s team also enjoys a huge café on the seventh floor with cafeteria-style tables (where chess games often take place) in addition to smaller spaces on each floor.
Enova (200 W. Jackson Blvd.)
Designed by Brininstool + Lynch, Enova's 18,000-square foot tech epicenter features a 130-foot-long workstations, audio/TV equipped conference rooms and social gathering lounges. One of the significant architectural designs is a 150-foot long wall (that serves a noise-dampener) constructed with recycled fiberboard panels that create a wave-like effect.
GrubHub (111 W Washington St)
In addition to its sleek kitchens and collaborative spaces, one of GrubHub’s most enjoyable features is the space’s rooftop deck - one of the few in the middle of the loop. In the summer, employees hold meetings outside or just take a break from their desks there.
Closerlook (212 W. Superior)
At its current location since 1996, the Closerlook is currently expanding to the fourth floor of the building because of company growth. The construction, which will be done next month, will feature a new staircase to connect the two floors within the office, remodeled kitchens on both floors, more formal meeting rooms as well as more lounge areas.
Kcura (231 South LaSalle Street)
kCura’s office features eight breakout corners named after Chicago neighborhoods and a kCura café that serves as a “town hall” for employees (it’s where they host everything from happy hours to cook-offs). The famous, old green couch (pictured above) in kCura’s reception area was purchased by kCura’s founders in the early days and has served as a bad, waiting room and an intern’s desk throughout its lifetime.
DigitasLBi (180 N La Salle)
Torchia Architects turned Digitas’s office into a funky Chicago headquarters with salvaged materials like wooden pallets, a shipping container and conveyer belts. The office is topped off with pool tables and basketball nets and urban graffiti-style decorations. Additionally, the space just opened up its Innovation Lab which is equipped with wearables, 3D printiners and sensors for experimentation.
Sprout Social (131 S. Dearborn)
Sprout Social’s new office features a media room for Wednesday movie nights, alternative work spaces (like standing tables or couches), a fully stocked kitchen and a game room with foosball, ping pong and arcade games.
Centro (222 W. Hubbard)
In their nicely designed space, Centro employees enjoy free weekly yoga classes and breakfasts in their kitchen for yearly Wellnessdays, a health day where they do free checkups at the office. Employees dine daily in their cafeteria (pictured above). The Centro team also decks out the office for their monthly happy hour for new hire orientation; pictured above is the happy hour theme of “Got Talent.”