We meet the architecture studio Kwong Von Glinow
Chicago’s Kwong Von Glinow on Optimism and Architecture
The American Midwest has turned the world of architecture upside down. As part of our Next Generation 2022 project, we meet ten emerging practices pioneering change, including Kwong Von Glinow, based in Chicago.
Optimism is a driving force behind the Chicago Kwong Von Glinow (KVG) practice. How does this manifest itself? Often in houses, or rather reimagining traditional dwellings to create unique homes for unique residents. One such building is Ardmore House in Chicago and a 12,000 square foot Howard Van Doren Shaw house in Highland Park, Illinois, for a family of art collectors (the practice has a particular talent for working with artists, collectors and artistic institutions).
âOur work translates forward-looking architectural concepts into playful designs with broad appeal,â says Alison Von Glinow, who, before co-founding KVG in 2017, worked with internationally renowned firms, including winners of the Pritzker Herzog & de Meuron Prize in Basel; SOM in Chicago and New York; Toshiko Mori Architect in New York; and Svendborg Architects in Copenhagen. Lap Chi Kwong has also worked with Herzog & de Meuron, as well as with Amateur Architecture Studio, on projects such as the M + Museum in Hong Kong, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Kramlich Residence & Gallery in California.
Buildings of all types and scales that look familiar but aren’t quite what they appear to be are the MO of KVG. “If there’s a common thread that ties our work together, sometimes we talk about the idea of ââ’a part of this, a part of that,’ says the duo, who met at Harvard Graduate School of Design. . “It seems ad hoc and arbitrary, but on the contrary, we think it is actually a fairly precise and controlled approach. [to] design. It is not only this and only that, nor all this and all that. We love to find ways to create a balance that can be a part of this and a part of that. ‘
The âa bit of this and thatâ approach extends to the firm’s three most recent projects: all historic renovations with additions. âOn the one hand, we have to respect the existing building and appreciate the things that were done in the past that cannot be produced in the same way anymore. On the other hand, historic spaces must function for contemporary life. Users shouldn’t have to live like people did 100 years ago, âsays Von Glinow.
Ardmore House. Photography: James Florio
Focused on the creation of âinnovative living environments, places of cultural engagement, urban public spaces and contemporary workspacesâ, the co-founders consider Ardmore House one of their main achievements. âWe designed the house around values âârather than criteria,â Kwong explains. The speculative housing development won the AIA Chicago Small Project Honor, AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Citation of Merit and AIA Illinois Excellence in Interiors Award for projects under 5,000 square feet.
Consulate of Switzerland in Chicago
The duo are keen to update any lingering perception of architecture as an industry focused on professional services: âEngaging with different artistic and cultural institutions allows us to broaden our knowledge and learn more about our city ââfrom another angle, âthey say. âWe were delighted to ask ourselves how we could rethink homes by ‘walking through’ the architecture into their interiors,â adds Von Glinow, referring to an installation titled Contraband architecture which they created thanks to a grant from the Graham Foundation, which was exhibited at the Swiss Museum of Architecture.
Their optimism extends to the future of architecture: âWe see that some places, like Switzerland, many European countries and Hong Kong, have urban initiatives and organizations that guide young practices on a successful path. The more cities recognize, build and encourage young professionals and design cultures, it will encourage more young practices to get involved in building an even better city. Â§
Home rendering for an art collector
Tours in a tower project