Bill Bickford and Austin DePree were college roomates at Trinity, and often caught themselves walking around Hartford discussing architecture. Fast forward 20 years, and the two are partners in a growing Chicago architectural practice, Northworks Architects and Planners LLC, whose wide-ranging portfolio, which includes restoration work, high-priced homes and most recently restaurants, is getting noticed.
According to everything we hear and read about him, Bill is the kind of instinctual architect who is able to listen and be relationally astute with clients, while maintaining integrity in his designs.
This Chicago single family home is a great example of Austin’s ability to meet the needs of his client in a way that maintains the basic structure of the urban dwelling. Set along a quiet street in Lincoln Park, they essentially doubled the size of the house, seamlessly adapting the foundation and exterior shell of an existing home. All aspects of the home, including millwork and custom hardware, were designed to express simplicity and a modern lifestyle. There is an understated elegance and restraint that makes for a timeless aesthetic.
And now for something completely different: this Michigan barn was commissioned to Northworks as part of the Walnut Farm project. Austin was tasked with the job of converting an existing 19th century barn into a fully-conditioned home. Working closely with the local contractor and a barn restoration consultant, Austin conducted a thorough investigation of the existing structure. The resulting design is intended to preserve the character of the original barn while taking advantage of its spacious interior volumes and natural materials.
The overall look here feels rustic and industrial, with a big emphasis on wood and all of the luxurious richness inherent in the material. By bringing out the best of the dated structure, the new space pays homage to a well built barn. And how about that indoor pool? Sleek yet warm, and utterly luxurious, it might just turn us into lap swimmers.
Two exterior shots that exemplify their attention to classical design: a mountain cabin retreat set on a hillside slope and a pool house that responds to the character of an existing Lake Forest estate. In both cases, the modest size of the structures illuminates the attention to detail and insistence on simple structures that are oriented towards providing ample light.
The dramatically high ceilings in Thistle Hill Farm allows for expansive views of the surrounding landscape; the owners wanted to be able to experience a connectedness with nature within a historic farm setting. Located on a 200-acre farm of rolling terrain in Western Wisconsin, this new single family home is a weekend retreat built in a completely sustainable way that honors the environment it inhabits. A free-flowing layout paired with mid-century pieces creates a laid-back vibe that makes you want to settle in by the fire.
Austin and Bill’s newest ventures are restaurants, and there’s a lot of buzz about the ones they’ve done so far. Above is a recent bar they redid for a private club in Chicago. Previously underutilized, this room, set in the lower level of the club, was converted to a members’ bar. The new gathering space now offers a quiet respite for friends gathered to drink and dine. The felt-covered walls and ceilings, reflective glass paneling, high-gloss black trimwork and custom-designed furnishings exude a sophisticated ambience and timeless appeal.
Their entire portfolio is inspiring, and we’re thrilled to see all the projects this talented firm will complete in the coming years.
Northworks Architects and Planners LLC. // Chicago, IL // 312.440.9850