P R O F I L E
The human factor: Mike DeRouin President at FitzGerald (Chicago, IL), a nationally recognized architecture firm with roots dating back more than 100 years.
By LIISA ANDREASSEN Correspondent
D eRouin has guided a broad range of project teams in the design of complex, mixed-use buildings that accommodate commercial office tenants; affordable and market-rate multifamily residences at every scale; neighborhood and big box retail; and parking uses. He also has considerable experience converting existing obsolete buildings to new commercial and residential uses. He’s a professional problem solver and offers himself as a consultant and mentor both in and out of the workplace. “We try to communicate with staff on a deeper level, so we become an engaging work place,” DeRouin says. “They’re not just an asset. You can’t lose sight of the human factor. If they want to grow, they have a path here to do it.” A CONVERSATION WITH MIKE DEROUIN. The Zweig Letter: Your bio states that you have a great deal of experience with converting obsolete buildings into new commercial and residential spaces. Can you give me an example of a favorite project and tell me why it tops your list?
Mike DeRouin: I love putting new life into old buildings and there’s so much potential with current building construction technology. The Stoney Island Arts Bank is a project that springs to mind. Fitzgerald worked with artist and community leader Theaster Gates and Catapult Real Estate Development on the rehabilitation of the Stony Island State Savings Bank building located in Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood. We were tasked with coordinating the rehabilitation of the three- story, 26,700-square-foot building, which was rescued from demolition in 2012 by Gates after standing vacant for more than 20 years. FitzGerald developed plans to rejuvenate the building in support of Gates’ vision that the site flourish as a hub for creative and cultural activities and create an anchor in the neighborhood. We’re also working to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places. Some prospective uses include a restaurant with culinary training facilities; artists’ studios and offices; exhibit spaces; and a library housing the collection of John H. Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines. Special plans have been made to restore the building’s
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