GREC Architects


The urban landscape of yesteryear has been replaced with a picture that is growing much more varied and nuanced in recent years. With the population growth in the top metropolitan areas across the country almost rivaling that of suburban migration between 2010 and 2015, according to the Urban Land Institute; the rich, diverse, and often dense landscape of the urban environment paired with growing interest and awareness in fresh, local food is driving innovation and creativity on the part of designers, developers, and investors. There has been a renewed interest in agriculture, use of land, and sustainability; and an exploration in the intersection of food and real estate, where food-centric amenities are integrated or leveraged through residential or commercial development. While many metropolitan areas are making an intentional effort at the city level to program rich green, public spaces for its community to gather, there are still areas that remain heavily concrete with limited access to fresh, local agriculture.In Chicago’s West Loop Gateway neighborhood, which is built on a history of industry and technology, EMME was intentionally designed as a green sanctuary. At nearly 233,000 square-feet and 14 stories, EMME is a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold Certified mixed-use development project featuring 199 residential units, a 3,000-square-foot retail space, and more than 8,000 square-feet of roof area dedicated to urban farming. “Sustainability to us, and to the client, is not just a LEED checklist,” said Don Copper, principal at GREC Architects, an architecture and design firm in Chicago, Illinois. “It’s not just making sure you check all of these things off. Gerding Edlen likes it to become part of the identity of the building and the residents as well.”Gerding Edlen Development, an Oregon-based vertically integrated real estate investment, development and asset and property management firm, acquired the site of the then future mixed-use apartment building in 2015. The firm is dedicated to developing a portfolio of vibrant and sustainable projects that positively enhance communities, neighborhoods, and the planet; and has cultivated more than 75 LEED Certified projects in its portfolio, including 23 LEED Platinum, 49 LEED Gold, and five LEED Silver.

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