Ground design

Chicago’s coffee cart offers minimalism and macchiatos

515 North State Street in Chicago is a modernist skyscraper by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, which won the Pritzker Prize in 1987. Built in 1990 as the American Medical Association Building, it blends the contemporary styles of its era, traditional influences and minimalist lines in an architecture Tange describes as “basic forms, spaces and appearances” arranged in a “logical” way, uniting technology and humanity. Today, the 20th century building, one of the city’s most prized landmarks, has a new addition to its main lobby: a sleek, designer new coffee cart designed by the Norman Kelley architectural studio with l architect and educator Spencer McNeil.

Chicago coffee cart led screen detail

(Image credit: Daniel Kelleghan)

The minimalist architecture of a Chicago coffee cart

The project, simply named “Cart”, was designed as a retail cart to offer locally roasted coffee and a seasonally inspired take-out menu on the ground floor of the 29-story office building, which is owned by a subsidiary of Beacon Capital Partners. “In keeping with Tange’s architectural heritage, Cart is an abstraction of a traditional form,” the design team explains. Much like the surrounding lobby (a minimalist mix of stainless steel and polished granite), the new structure is a composition of clean geometric shapes in stainless steel.

aluminum chicago coffee cart casters

(Image credit: Daniel Kelleghan)

The carriage – at 5 m long, 2 m wide and 3.4 m high – pulls on a yatai cart, a mobile food stall dating back to 17th century Japan. Offering a modern twist on the historic typology, which traditionally had two wheels, this particular cart rests on six stainless steel cylinders.

Stainless steel refrigeration equipment (four refrigerators, one cooler) and a set of jatoba wood shelves are arranged above this base. An open ceiling structure with a continuous four-sided LED ribbon completes the design, crowning it with a dynamic banner, which can be combined with a nearby 7m high media wall, to display still images, text or graphics. animated images for passers-by.

“Although Cart is stationary, its abstract metallic form is designed to imbue the lobby and adjacent public plaza with an image of movement,” Kelley and McNeil say.

Chicago coffee cart in the lobby of the Kenzo Tange building

(Image credit: Daniel Kelleghan)