• eva2900

Designing Catalyst Ranch

Project: Transformation from an empty smoked herring factory to creative caviar


Client: Catalyst Ranch


Challenge: Create a space which enhances creativity and fosters original ideas, engages the five senses and evokes nostalgic feelings, yet serves as a fully functional conference center.


Starting Point: The vintage loft consisted of 9,000 sq. ft. of raw space on one floor, with an additional 6,000 sq. ft. on a different floor (added 2 ½ years later) in a 120 year old former sausage and herring factory with exposed brick, high wood beam ceilings, lots of windows and unfinished cement floors. Only HVAC systems were in place.


Timeline: Initial build-out had to be completed in 5 weeks, the second build-out took 3 months.


Results: On time, on target.


Layout: Elevator opens directly into the space, creating an immediate “wow” effect at first glimpse. A custom bar/serving counter anchors the kitchen area. Five meeting rooms, two offices, break spaces and reception areas were created resulting in a natural flow through the entire space.


Design elements: Cheerful and unusual color combinations, ethnic art, primitive accessories, vintage furniture, salvaged junk turned into functional art, books, toys (past and present). Mexican hacienda colors in the hallways where there is little natural light, more muted palettes in the meeting rooms which all have a heavy preponderance of windows. Custom designed easels and dry erase boards. Artist rendered bathrooms and TV carts. Every element was chosen to play into the overall design scheme and ignite the imagination of meeting goers. In a nutshell, whimsy with large doses of humor.


Feedback: To date, over 90,000 people have experienced a meeting or event at Catalyst Ranch. The result is a constant stream of referrals from satisfied meeting attendees, facilitators, professional meeting planners, administrators, hotels and other conference centers.


Testimonial: “With exposed beams, large windows, high ceilings and brick walls, the basic building alone would make a great meeting space. Add to that eclectic décor, the total flexible seating arrangements, the range of intriguing stimuli scattered throughout, from hats and feather boas to puzzles and hammocks, and you have a very creative meeting space.”

Lindsay Shanholt, Business Innovationist, Creative Realities


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West Loop Chicago