March’s Featured Architect: Lamar Johnson Collaborative

Clayco added the discipline of architecture and engineering to the enterprise back in 1999 with the founding of Forum Studio. The idea from the start was to be a creative force with extraordinary technical strength to cultivate a culture of design-build within the Clayco brand.

Three years ago, we merged Forum Studio with the Lamar Johnson Collaborative to expand into a full-service design and architecture firm. This move provided innovative designs that stimulated positive change and further expanded our brand nationwide. The united companies have given a boost to the “integrated” platform we have and also bring the true meaning of Art and Science to the purposeful projects we work on.

Working closely on projects with LJC has fully advanced our obsessive commitment towards listening first and then delivering on our clients’ visions. By harnessing the power of integrated design, including architecture, workplace strategy, interior design, landscape architecture, urban planning, and engineering, LJC achieves its clients’ goals and aspirations.

Additionally, Clayco and LJC share a passion for being actively involved in our communities, which is why it comes as no surprise that we decided to partner together.

The LJC Team

Chairman of the firm, Lamar Johnson, is an experienced leader known for breaking new ground in AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction). He, along with his leadership committee, have made the focus of LJC about enhancing the human experience through the spaces that we inhabit, which brings further meaning to our motto, “beyond these walls.” There is no other design firm in North America that has such a full range of competency, technology, and building knowledge in the product markets that LJC serves.

Every architect and designer at LJC contributes to “creating spaces, connecting people, and building communities.” LJC is led by an outstanding leadership team that has an impressive portfolio of awards and experience. They stand out in the knowledge, commitment, and adaptability they bring to the design portion of Clayco’s integrated delivery model.

Strength in Adaptability

LJC has shown great strength in adaptability during difficult times. Due to the current pandemic, we are forced to rethink the way that we work and live.

Whether we realize it or not, our behaviors towards how we not only use spaces but also how we feel safe and comfortable in them are changing. LJC has stood up to the challenges that follow this behavioral shift. They have developed resources on how to adapt within higher education, research labs, residential places, healthcare, and the workplace.


Collaborative Projects

Our partnership has brought about many exciting projects. Macy’s flagship was a historical project that we worked on together alongside Brookfield Properties. This project spotlights the adaptive re-use of a landmark department store into a contemporary office space for Macy’s.  Our challenge was to renovate the building while still preserving its iconic essence in Chicago’s history.

The Pfizer project was an integrated effort by LJC/Clayco/CRG to design, build, and lease their 294,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. The site concept was to integrate the new laboratory building with this unique site and its natural beauty, sunset views, and dramatic topography. The building program was strategically organized to provide operational efficiency and enhanced cooperation. LJC developed a workplace strategy that optimized the use of space through centralized office supplies and storage, a dining facility on the first floor, and a centralized café on all other floors.

Another great collaboration was Fulton East, a 12-story office and retail building located in the heart of Chicago’s Fulton Market District. This project was unique because it required teamwork in constructing an office building fit for post-COVID-19 business life. Fulton East is now the nation’s first, next-generation office made to address employee health, safety, and wellness in today’s post-COVID-19 business environment. It is also LEED-certified.

Making an Impact

Deciding to work with LJC was a win-win for Clayco. Beyond their expertise, they are highly committed to and engaged with their communities. LJC and Clayco have volunteered together to raise money in an initiative called “Women Build” that helps break barriers such as the pay gap and provides an opportunity for women to become homeowners in the Chicago community. Another cause that we’ve both invested our time in is the “Pedal the Cause” fundraiser that provides funding for cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center and Siteman Kids at the St. Louis Children’s hospital.

LJC is also dedicated to increasing diversity in the industry. Two organizations they work closely with are ACE and NOMA. ACE is a mentorship program in Chicago that helps students learn more about careers in architecture, construction, engineering, and other related professions. NOMA’s mission is to increase the number of minority architects through various forms of outreach, community advocacy, and professional development.

For more about LJC and their inspiring projects, visit their website here.

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