Aria Group has been designing restaurants for over 34 years, but we recently experienced unique challenges while working on Amy’s Drive Thru in Roseville, California. Partnering with a client committed to the environment and social well-being enabled us the opportunity to design a restaurant with a Living Roof. Amy’s is the first Certified B Corporation fast-food restaurant, leading the charge in vegetarian/plant-based options. “Certified B Corporations are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Unlike other certifications for businesses, B Lab is unique in our ability to measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact.” – Bcorporation.net. This project strives to educate – showcasing its environmental and social concerns through its teamwork, commitment to climate concerns, and ultimately its design. The following is its story…
Progress photos of the living roof components
Designing a Restaurant with a Living Roof was made possible through collaboration with our client and many partners. Our team included: Amy’s Drive Thru, KDC Construction, Clarke and Reilly, Chestnut Company, MFSD+B, Henderson Engineering, Hart Gaugler & Associates, Kier + Wright, Camp & Camp Associates, Inc., and Symbios Ecotecture.
“The living roof at our Roseville Amy’s Drive Thru is not only beautiful – it also promotes a number of environmental benefits including reduced energy requirements, retention of stormwater on-site, habitat biodiversity and reduction of the heat island effect, just to name a few.” – Jason Dedmore, Director of Real Estate & Development at Amy’s Drive Thru, Inc.
A living roof offers many benefits to a building and the environment. The mass of the soil acts as a great insulator helping to regulate the buildings internal temperature. This allows for less heating or cooling and an overall lower energy bill. The return on investment varies per geographical region but Roseville offered a great opportunity for Amy’s.
Symbios Ecotecture installing the Living Roof.
The soil and plants absorb rainwater and hold it on site versus running off directly into the sewer system. Holding more rainwater onsite reduces strain on the sewer system leading to less flooding. This does create the need for a slightly larger structure to support the roof and more caution with waterproofing the building roof, but Aria worked with Amy’s to celebrate the resulting gabled structure by exposing it inside the dining room and celebrating the design on the interior.
Environmentally, the Living Roof also offers a reduction to the urban heat island effect. Higher temperatures in urban areas leads to higher cooling loads in buildings, increasing the carbon footprint, compounding the Climate Crisis.
Growing plants does take time — see below photos of the plants at restaurant opening and six months later. Plant selection is an important process that Symbios Ecotecture and Camp & Camp teamed up to provide the best options of native species to thrive. The selected plants also create a habitat for pollinators and birds, increasing biodiversity.
Left photo at restaurant opening by photographer Cesar Rubio. Right photo six month after opening by Symbios Ecotecture.
The architecture, with cues from agricultural structures, is simple in form, but form follows function in creating various dining opportunities and protecting patrons and employees from Roseville’s climate. The design team chose to have a gabled roof to showcase the Living Roof to patrons and the community, creating a green beacon for Amy’s Drive Thru. A living roof is very much a team effort, affecting not just design but our consulting engineers. By having conversations early and often the team was able to deliver a sustainable end result.
Partial living roof section by Aria Group
Aria Group will continue to innovate and lead by example in keeping social, economic, and environmental concerns top of mind. We are excited to collaborate on designs that continue to enrich our communities and the environment through our designs leading to a more harmonious future with our planet.
We are kicking off our 2023 series of Meet the Team with introducing you to Jade Heiler! Jade is an experienced architectural designer and has been with us since late 2021. She has been a great asset to the team working on projects with a world-renowned chef that is expanding in the US market, as well as working on multiple locations of The Capital Grille. Before working on hospitality projects here at Aria, Jade gained experience in a diverse range of projects covering municipal, educational, retail, and entertainment sectors. Jade takes pride in her work and enjoys the challenge of working through construction details to best support the design intent. Fun Fact: Jade studied Fashion Design and Retail in undergrad and worked as a merchandising manager before making the switch to Architecture and pursuing her master’s degree! Learn more about Jade Below!
Jade graduated with her Masters in Architecture from Kendall College of Art and Design.
How many places have you lived in your life and where did you grow up? I grew up in Matteson, IL, on the south side of Chicago. I went to Central Michigan University and moved to Grand Rapids, MI after that. I lived in Michigan for a total of 11 years. I just moved back to Chicago in 2021!
What neighborhood do you live in and what is your favorite neighborhood place to visit? I live in Uptown. During the summer, my favorite place is Foster Beach. It’s a tourist-free beach and only a couple blocks from my condo. During the winter, my living room is my favorite place to visit!
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? My sister Jasmine is a year older than me and she’s very cool, calm and collected. My brother Clyde III (or Tre as we call him) is 2 years younger than me and he’s also calm and quiet, and together we nerd out on video games and Star Wars. I’m the middle child and definitely the liveliest of the three. I keep everyone entertained.
Do you have any pets? I have a black cat named Reggie. His full name is Regulus Arcturus Black, for my Harry Potter fans out there. I also have an Australian Shepherd named Lando Calrissian, for my Star Wars fans out there.
Best travel story? I spent a month in Volterra, Italy during grad school for study abroad. We lived with another group from a Polish architecture school and made some great new friends. My favorite part was the karaoke party we had one night at our host restaurant. I did a duet with one of the students from Poland, to Déjà vu by Beyonce and Jay-Z. The restaurant owner called me Jay-Z for the rest of the trip.
Using her fashion design and modeling experience, Jade walks the runway to show off our team’s 2022 STITCH competition entry.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? I always wanted to be a fashion designer and I did get a degree in fashion design. But the more I studied the retail and business side of things, the more I fell in love with it. When I transitioned into architecture, my thesis project was a design for a clothing store that functions like a real world version of Instagram influencing. My favorite part of retail and restaurant design is creating an experience through all of the little details.
Jade’s high school band walking in the Thanksgiving Day parade (left) and showing off her newest hobby, building Star Wars Lego sets.
What is the dorkiest thing about you and why? I collect Star Wars Lego sets. I don’t know how it started but I now have 27 of them. Putting them together is probably my favorite pastime and how I relieve stress. The only ones I don’t have yet are the ones that cost over $500, but I’m planning to complete my collection this year.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I played the clarinet in the Marian Catholic High School marching band. My sophomore year we were in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and my senior year we were in the Rose Bowl parade.
Words you live by and why. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” My dad drilled into me that I can do anything I put my mind to, that it’s better to try and fail than not try at all. That quote is my mantra. I’m not afraid to make big changes in my life and now I’m right where I want to be.
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our Blog!A Cozy New Hideaway in Sister Bay!
Our design team hit the ground running on this one! An untimely change in project resources meant that our client was left without a designer and a fast-paced project timeline! Our design team jumped in and crafted an enlivened interior concept focusing on the area’s historic roots and the client’s vision of a high-end boutique experience.
This area in Sister Bay, WI is known for the beauty of its natural landscape and connection to an expansive shoreline. Long-time residents & visitors alike have come to deeply appreciate the weaving hiking paths, sprawling orchards, restaurant & bar corridors alongside the shopping & arts districts. All of which make it an incredible location for a stay at this year-round boutique hotel!
Door County is also home to an exquisite Scandinavian heritage, which became a main concept driver for the design of the DoRR Hotel. Our design process began with the concept of ‘hygge’ – a Danish term focusing on the idea of “coziness” or invoking the feeling of deep contentment & well-being. We did this through the lighter color palette and bringing in warm finishes and elements.
Beginning with entry into the lobby spaces, guests are greeted by a premier, on-site, guests service team stationed behind marble-look stone and rustic wood features. The atmosphere is equally homey and sophisticated – ensuring guests feel invited to gather around for a drink, snack, or even to play a board game at the various seating styles & arrangements. The furniture throughout the project was selected and designed to be the perfect blend of Scandinavian minimalism and mid-century modern. Rich and warm accent colors pocketed within an airy and natural palette.
The brighter, lightly finished, wood tones are contrasted by blackened metal accents and luxe plaster-work, both bringing forth deeper colorways. Soft seating is wrapped in distressed leathers, beige twills and deep, moody, blue and green tones. A fire-wood installation adds warms and definition, while drawing your eye up to the natural cedar beams above.
The DoRR Hotel houses 47 well-appointed guestrooms highlight the gorgeous views within light and airy spaces, allowing guests to relax and unwind in. All guest rooms feature white shiplap walls, herringbone flooring and custom white oak and leather furnishings. Eight of the guestrooms take the form of unique suite-style spaces featuring unique floor plans, bay-facing balcony views, high-end furnishings and thoughtful in-room amenities.
Guests of the suites are invited to cozy up alongside the linear electric fireplaces, watch the sunset on the outdoor terrace or unwind with cup of tea from the custom-crafted navy blue shaker-style kitchenette space.
Both the guestroom and lobby spaces share a design that is centered around the ideas crucial to the Danish concept of hygge. With furniture & materials that embody a sense of elevated comfort, warmth and conversation. The multifunctional lounge spaces throughout the lobby floors, alongside the unique suites and guestrooms, ensure that each stay provides a new experience!
General Contractor: Bayland Buildings Inc.
Photographer: Ballogg Photography
To read more about the DoRR Hotel project, check out our Case Study here!Meet the Team: Nathan Kiecker
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! This month, we would like you to meet Nathan Kiecker. Nathan is an Architectural Designer and has been a part of the Aria Group team since 2019. Recently, Nathan’s focus has been on several Shake Shack projects around the U.S. and his technical talents have been instrumental to several other sports entertainment venues like Topgolf and the Henrico Sports Complex. Rounding out his hospitality experience, Nathan is also on the team that designed three new food & beverage spaces within Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Continue reading to learn more about Nathan!
What project are you most proud of since being at Aria Group? That would be my first project ever: Shake Shack San Francisco Centre. It was a small interior buildout in the Westfield Mall but it taught me the detailed intricacies that smaller projects require when designing in an existing space. I would liken it to mastering a game of Tetris. Being a part of the process was definitely very rewarding specifically in detailing and coordinating an angular design.
Where did you grow up? I grew up, and still live, in Berwyn, Illinois. Berwyn is 10 minutes south of Oak Park where Aria is located so I have been familiar with the area and surroundings all my life. It is really nice being close by our office.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? Since childhood, I have always wanted to be an architect. It may sound cliché, but being introduced and experiencing Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential work along with his home and studio—just minutes from my own home—was very influential. I took that direction and passion and have built my career toward that goal.
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? I have two older sisters Nicole (the oldest) and Nora (Middle) which makes me the baby. A fun fact is our names start with the letter N, and I would say all three of us have design-orientated minds as do our parents, who are both graphic designers. We all followed in their footsteps.
Nathan and his two older sisters all followed in their parents footsteps with design oriented careers.
What is something you get overly competitive about and why? Anything sports-related, definitely golf. If I wanted to be completely honest though, I’m competitive when it comes to anything that involves two individuals and an end goal of winning. Being competitive is a personal driver for me but when I’m working with my team – I want my team to be successful first and foremost.
Nathan is always ready for a competitive game of golf!
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? Pasta! I have eaten it so much that now I can make my own sauce from scratch. It’s just one of those easy quick meals that can be made anytime.
What’s the last TV show you binge-watched? Ozark. Season 4, Part 1.
What’s your current favorite TV show? Peacemaker! If you have not seen, or heard of this, do yourself a huge favor and have a blast. Thank me later.
What is in the trunk of your car right now? My golf clubs. I’m always prepared for a round with the boys, weather permitting of course. But then again, that is what Topgolf is for!
What is something most people don’t know about you? I collect sneakers. #Sneakerhead. I have really stepped up my game in the last 5 years. I usually wear beaters during the winter, but when the weather warms up be on the lookout for the heat!
Do you have a favorite travel story? So this is not one of my best stories, but it’s definitely one I’ll always remember. When I was in college I decided to wait in line for the new iPhone (at the time it was the iPhone 6). In-store purchasing started at 6am on a Saturday morning at this particular mall which was roughly 15 miles away from college. I had the bright idea of biking there to be one of the first to purchase. So I left and headed out around 8pm the evening before. Since this part of Michigan did not have many sidewalks or street lights, I had to bike up and down hilly roads overnight holding a flashlight in one hand and cars racing past me. After 2 hours of biking I arrived. Following several cups of coffee at a nearby Denny’s, I headed over to the mall to jump in line. It was incredible how many people rushed in all at once—many of them serial early adopters who always flood Apple stores for the next upgrade. The experience was chaos! Pushing, shoving— pure CHAOS! Even an ambulance arrived to help with injuries. When I finally made it to the front of the line, I learned that I needed my parent to verify the account information. The crazy adventure was all for nothing. Ever since, I happily just order online!
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our Blog!
Meet the Team: Brian Zielinski
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! Brian Zielinski is a Project Manager at Aria Group who just celebrated 15 years with our firm. He joined our team in 2006 as an Architectural Technician and has been practicing architecture for 17 years. Brian has managed a variety of projects in our office, including Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Buddy’s Pizza, Topgolf, and Nando’s. He is currently working on an exciting sports complex that we are designing on the east coast! He says he has a hard time choosing a favorite project as there are so many that standout, but mentions the Topgolf Nashville music venue and Perry’s Steakhouse in Schaumburg. Another that brings back memories is a California Pizza Kitchen in Tempe, AZ, which is where it all started for him at Aria. Fun Fact: Brian almost didn’t study architecture. He credits staying close to his hometown as a main reason that he eventually landed at Aria Group. Lucky for us that Brian made the right decision and our team and our clients have all benefited. To learn about more fun facts about Brian, read on!
Do you have children? How many and what are their names and ages? My wife and I have two beautiful, smart, and wonderful girls: Elizabeth (12) and Katelyn (8). Elizabeth is an old soul, very creative, and artistic. Katelyn is a little spit fire, always looking for fun, and is very competitive. We are so lucky to have them in our lives.
Do you volunteer any of your time with your kids’ activities? I volunteer my time and coach any sport my daughters want to play – soccer, volleyball, softball, golf and now probably basketball this winter. I grew up playing sports of all kinds and have played travel soccer and club volleyball for many years and played volleyball in college. In the past, I’ve coached volleyball at the collegiate level and at an elite volleyball club in the Chicagoland area, so naturally I figured I’d get back into coaching with my girls when they were ready. I’ve always felt playing sports is such a crucial thing for kids to be a part of to learn about hard work, team work, responsibility, facing adversity, success, struggles, the highs, the lows – it all helps them in anything they decide to do in life. It’s also such a joy to teach kids and develop their skills. The transition from the beginning of a season to the end is amazing to watch the progress the kids make in a short amount of time.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? From the earliest I can remember, I wanted to be an engineer or architect. I was always building or tinkering with something when I was a kid. My uncles were engineers, my Grandpa loved to draw and paint, and my Dad can fix just about anything. They all had a tremendous influence on me and the profession I chose.
If you had a boat, what would you name it and why? (stupid names only) Comfortably Numb. Yes, Pink Floyd fan guilty as charged if you get the reference. This was a good bar name I came up with when I designed a bar in college, but I’m more likely to own a boat than a bar in my lifetime. The name definitely fits the boating lifestyle.
What is your ideal “I think I’ll call in sick today” day? Really not my cup of tea to call in a PTO day if I’m busy, but 75 degrees, light breeze, not a cloud in the sky is ideal – I’d be teeing it up on the golf course. Afterwards I’d spend time with family or friends. Those that know me well know I’d be back online taking care of business in the evening.
Since we are all foodies, share your favorite restaurant in Chicago: Vie which is Chef Paul Virant’s fine dining restaurant in the suburb of Western Springs. It had a Michelin star for a couple of years about a decade ago which is the reason why we tried it out originally. My wife and I had a wonderful experience their the first time we went. Our waiter that night happened to also be the sommelier, and he took us on a tour of the wine cellar and the kitchen after we were done with dinner. I highly recommend as the food is incredible, the presentation magnificent, and the staff is so personable.
What’s the last book you read? The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. I’m a history geek and love how Erik Larson books intertwine non-fiction historic events into a story.
Words you live by and why? Work hard, tell the truth, and do the right thing. Growing up my family always stressed these things, but it wasn’t until recent years that I combined all of these as it was a motto I’ve heard from my wife’s late uncle who was an outstanding guy and inspiration to many.
You have to wear a t-shirt with one word on it every day for one year. What word do you choose and why? “Relax.” Why? Because everyone needs to relax a little bit and take a deep breath every once in a while. We all need to chill out and recharge to get ready for the next task, the next adventure. (“Booya!” is a close second and maybe the word on the back of the t-shirt.)
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our blog!Meet the Team: Martika Camacho
Our team is the soul of Aria Group and key to our success and growth as a company. Martika is a great example of one of our team members that has grown within Aria through her great work ethic and dedication to her projects and clients. Martika began at Aria in 2013 as a design librarian, where she was able to become familiar with the products and reps we work with and get her feet wet on interior design projects. She was a natural fit at Aria and joined full time upon completing her interior design degree at Columbia College. Now, fast forward 7 years – Martika is an experienced designer and finding herself taking on a significant design role on many projects.
Martika can be counted on to volunteer for the office outside of her daily work. She works with our wellness committee and dominated the runway as the model for our entry to the IIDA Stitch Competition, where our team took home Best of Show honors in 2020. “We partnered with Mapei and Ceramic Technics,” Martika recalls by saying, “we were all so proud of our accomplishment and that’s why it stands out so much!”
But there is more to this Fierce competitor and dedicated team member. To learn more about Martika and her personal interests, read on below!
What is something you get overly competitive about? Everything. Just kidding, I am very competitive in my health and fitness goals. When I am not signed up for a race, I am often joining a fitness/wellness challenge organized by influencers that inspire me. I feel if you have a passion, surround yourself with likeminded people and follow likeminded content. It’s amazing how a little bit of shared passion fuels you further.
What was your first job? dELiA*s “fashion representative” – we had to answer the phone with a bubbly line “We’re having a great day at dELiA*s!” and offer up a compliment to everyone that walked through those doors. The walls were bursting of graphic tees and quirky patterns. I can safely say I worked there for the discount and can thank them for my bubbly demeanor.
What’s a secret talent that you have? During the holiday season and occasionally in the year, I sell beer bottle/can candles that I craft myself! The upcycled beer bottles are hand cut and sanded by me, tops of cans are opened by me as well. All candles are soy based with a cotton wick and scents are all essential oil based. I treat the candles like a choose your own adventure – pick your bottle/can & pick your scent. I’d say I am a beer connoisseur – one of my favorite podcasts is Good Beer Hunting. Every bottle & brewery has their own story – it makes me happy when I can share my passion with other people that appreciate it. I love beer so much – my husband and I got married at our first craft brew love – Revolution!
Do you have any pets? One dog – he’s a handful but we love him so much! His name is Ernie – Ernest or Ernnifer when he’s in trouble and Ern-bern when he’s a good boy. Ern is about to turn 6. He is a Staffordshire/Beagle/Pit-bull mix.
If you weren’t a designer, you would have been a? If I wasn’t a designer, I would like to picture myself as a successful entrepreneur! Maybe a mix of yoga instructor, craft brewer, local baker, and Etsy vibes? Oh! Maybe it’s a yoga studio connected to a bakery/brewery with my own little shop in front – One can only dream!
Who is your favorite artist? Kozmo – She’s Chicago’s Burger-Flower artist! You can spot her work throughout the city now, most commonly in Pilsen. Her work is so uplifting with her bright color selections and spunky content. What I love most about her is her toon inspiration! I love local artists and scoping out murals throughout the city!
What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Homemade ice cream is where it’s at! I love making the Cereal Milk ice cream recipe from the Momofuku Milk Bar book. I’ll often make it with cornflakes and occasionally with Lucky Charms. The Cheesecake ice cream is a dangerous one as well! Also, anything from Salt & Straw is amazing! Recently had their Thanksgiving Turkey flavor that was to drool for. Can you tell I love ice cream?!Aria Group: Public Interest Design
A House in Austin – photos by Travis Vannoy
Aria Group couldn’t be more proud to highlight two socially responsible projects as we start out hopeful for the new year. These projects showcase Aria Group’s continued commitment to helping in our communities through providing thoughtful design solutions pro bono.
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that spending time with family is one of the most important parts of life. Aria Group was fortunate to work with the community organization, A House in Austin. A House in Austin’s mission is to nurture bonds for healthy families and bright futures. In hopes of integrating into the neighborhood’s fabric, the organization purchased a Victorian-era house in need of renovations in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. Aria Group assisted with bringing the house up to zoning, accessibility and rehabilitation codes appropriate for their programs. Creating a house into a place of business and gathering provided some challenges aesthetically as well. We worked to maintain the character of the house with every decision, but practical elements, especially for accessibility, needed to be implemented into the project. Along with Himelick Construction, Systems Design Group, Inc., CE Anderson and Associates and Robin Titus Designs, the team created an inviting and secure space for the families. Functional and inspiring design played a key role to help empower parents to shape their children’s futures.
Sarah’s Inn – photos by Orenthal Jeffries
Another lesson learned from 2020 is that every day is a gift and should not be taken for granted. We worked hand in hand to create a safe, private and comfortable design for the new headquarters for Sarah’s Inn. Sarah’s Inn’s mission is to provide comprehensive services for families affected by domestic violence – giving families the support they need to find safety, rebuild their lives, and heal. They were in need of expansion to furnish a secure location for education, counseling and group events. The team included Radix Construction Services, Systems Design Group, Inc., and TGRWA, LLC. All worked to redesign an old electrical union training facility into a warm and inviting space for Sarah’s Inn to continue their mission.
Aria Group was honored to be a part of these exciting socially responsible projects – working to better individuals, families and communities.Recap: Top Posts 2020
As we look forward to a new year of posts, we thought we would revisit our greatest hits of 2020. As we checked our stats, we were not too surprised to find that our top five all have some relation to the story of 2020 – the pandemic. We sought to take a positive spin and push our creativity, while helping to find solutions to tough problems. We hope you find the same.
Masks On Doors Open – Our series on reopening restaurants safely.
Pandemic Design – We produced a series of case studies for a special Covid themed edition of NEWh Magazine investigating how we can practice safer design for projects at various scales.
Walter’s Favorites: Take-Out – Our principal, CFO, and resident foodie shared his favorite local spots to order-in.
Parklets + The Evolved Patio – Outdoor dining was a hot topic in 2020. This article explores options to expand and improve patio design.
Designer Tips: Home Work Stations – As most of us settled in for a year of remote work our designers share some tips to make your home work station a better place to be.