1510 North Wells Street
Designer: SPACE Architects + Planners
The Four Corners Tavern Group is about as Old Town as it gets. Places like the Gaslight Bar & Grille, the Kirkwood Bar & Grill, and the West End Bar & Grill (noticing a theme?) offer American bar food in the traditional, wood-paneled bar setting. Things are a bit different at the group’s newest restaurant, Benchmark, designed by Chicago-based SPACE Architects + Planners. Benchmark inverts the pub aesthetic (if not the menu) with a double-height main room and an abundance of natural light. “The client wanted a more contemporary feel,” said firm principal Jean Dufrense, “something to suit younger people in the neighborhood.” To achieve this, SPACE gutted the original two-story structure and built a two-story addition directly to the south, with a second-story walkway that allows for a light well to the ground floor. Crowning the addition is a glass retractable roof—the only one of its kind in the city—designed and built by New York–based Roll-A-Cover. In addition to this inventive design, many of the restaurant’s TVs are situated behind two-way mirrors or on lifts, letting the space easily transition into a lounge at night.
Robert E. Thomas