Transforming Northern Trust Bank with an Architectural Glass Canopy

As a staple in Chicago’s financial district for more than a century, Northern Trust Bank has established itself as a trusted institution and an industry leader. Marked by outstanding service, expertise, and integrity, the company exemplifies traditional values. However, as younger consumers enter the market and consumer tastes change, it is crucial for established companies to evolve in order to stay competitive. This was the challenge facing Northern Trust Bank as they looked to modernize their branch location on Chicago’s Monroe Avenue.

The current branch design matched that of many historical banking institutions, with dark wood, marble, and brass throughout. Although these classic materials were beautiful, they left the space feeling dark and outdated. With new, modern, banking institutions entering the market daily, Northern Trust knew the space had to be updated, and fast. To bring the location into the 21st century, the bank enlisted help from the accomplished architects at Harley Ellis Devereaux.

The team of architects set out to update and modernize the space, while keeping in touch with the company’s long-standing values. One of their main goals was to bring light into the space. This was a challenge due to the urban setting and the limited amount of natural light available. To solve this, the team’s lead architect developed the concept for a large backlit architectural glass canopy, which would serve as the lobby’s main light source.

His inspiration for the canopy design started with a small swatch of translucent white fabric that he found on his desk. He loved the way the fabric interacted with light, as it allowed light to pass through but softened it, creating an overall glow. His goal was to recreate this effect on a large-scale across the glass canopy. The team contacted Goldray Glass with this idea and asked us to use the fabric swatch to bring their vision to life. That’s where Goldray’s research and development team truly showed their expertise. The team worked diligently, using various colors and patterns of ceramic frit, an enamel ink that is applied to the glass and fused to the surface, to achieve the same look and effect of the fabric. The final piece was created using multiple applications of ceramic frit on more than one surface. This layering technique provided a translucent appearance to the glass, which diffused the light and matched the effect of the original fabric.

Once completed, the canopy is a crucial design element, filling the once dark space with warm, white light. The installation flows seamlessly from the lobby out to the entryway, visually connecting the two spaces and creating a warm welcoming space for all.

Goldray Glass was thrilled to have been a part of bringing Harley Ellis Devereaux’s vision to life and many other projects aimed at making buildings beautiful. For more design inspiration, please join us on Instagram,  FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter where we regularly post project pictures and case studies as we build our community of industry professionals.  If you’d like to work with a member of our team, please call us at 1-800-640-3709 or email us at info@goldrayglass.com and we’d be more than happy to assist you with your next design.