The Right Stuff

High-end glam or bargain-basement funky, one interior designer’s vision is uncompromisingly green.

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The Emerald: Luxe Living

The Emerald’s Club Room, a circular motif unites the terrazzo flooring, the banquette seating, and the alder-log cocktail tables.  Photo Gallery:::

In the Emerald’s Club Room, a circular motif enhances the nightclub vibe and glamorous trappings. “It started with these patterned circles we made in the Compac quartz tile floor with Enviroglas recycled-glass terrazzo,” Wiltgen says. “We played that theme up with similar fabrics, circular tables, and very primitive cubes made in Canada of alder logs. It’s the dramatic mixture of textures like this that contributes greatly to the warmth and friendliness of an interior, making it inviting—or if you get it wrong, forbidding. I don’t want to install anything that people are afraid to sit on.”

Graceful bar stools designed by Jill Salisbury for EL: Environmental Language line the sparkling IceStone-topped bar and conference table. Salisbury also designed the low-slung, intricately grained bamboo Tian tables, the metal-framed upholstered Origami lounge chairs, and an ingenious grouping of ottomans that can be easily rearranged for entertaining. Curvy light fixtures swathed with silk in different shades of green were custom made by Aqua Creations; canoe-shaped hanging fixtures delineate seating areas within the large space.

Wiltgen used sculptural panels from Seattle’s Modular Arts company on several expanses of the lobby’s walls. “They are completely composed of minerals,” he says, “which means they’ll never burn, and there are no pollutants in the production process. I love the way it becomes art when you graze it with light.” The tiles come in 32-inch squares in a variety of patterns, and are applied over drywall. For the Emerald, the team used the Dune style behind the bar and on the soaring two-story wall that backs the reception area, orienting the tiles horizontally for a rippling-water effect. They can also be mounted vertically, or even alternated, and painted.

To save as much energy as possible, Wiltgen commissioned Chicago-based lighting consultant Design Illuminations to come up with a computerized system that uses 75 percent less electricity than conventional lighting.

 "A computer chip controls everything,” he says. “Sensors trigger lights in some areas, certain lights go on only at night, and the color of the LED lighting in the recessed shadowboxes is carefully controlled.” These glowing, backlit chartreuse rectangular panels—some with mirrors—are a distinctive element of the space, and are used in both tower lobbies as well as in long hallways visible from the street.

Next: EcoLogic Lofts

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