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Cermak Fresh Market at The Fields creates a pleasant shopping experience with natural light


Cermak Fresh Market is a fast-growing regional grocery store with 14 locations in the Chicago and Milwaukee markets. Family-owned, the grocery chain specializes in providing fresh produce and meats, as well as ingredients prized by home cooks in Chicago’s immigrant communities.

In 2016, the grocer opened a 70,000-square-foot store that anchors The Fields, a 1.5 million-square-foot redevelopment on the Northwest side of Chicago. The buildings that make up The Fields were originally built in 1928 as a warehouse for the Olsen Rug factory. Marshall Field’s purchased the warehouse in 1965 for its own warehouse needs. Macy’s acquired Marshall Field’s in 2005, and the location was closed in 2008. 4K Diversey Partners bought it in 2014 with a vision to create a mixed-use development centered on a live-work concept.


The space that Cermak Fresh Market occupies is located on the ground floor on one corner of The Fields complex. A section of its roof is a single story sandwiched in between three five-story sections. The original building included ridge-style skylights to bring in light into what would otherwise be an incredibly dark space. These old skylights were in bad condition: discolored glass, rust, broken seals, energy inefficient and cumbersome hand-crank functionality.

The Cermak Fresh Market team wanted to include skylights in the design to provide natural light in the space, but they also had a budget and renovation timeline to meet.

The old skylights were rusted and their glass discolored.
With the grocery store located on the ground floor between three taller sections of the building, skylights are essential to bringing natural light into the space. However, the original ridge-style skylights were discolored and had to be hand cranked open.

Solution: VELUX Modular Skylights (VMS)

VELUX supplied two VELUX Modular Skylights solutions to incorporate natural light into the space both on time and on budget. Because they are factory sealed and factory glazed, there’s no need to wet-glaze glass on site, so VMS can be installed year-round, even in the rain.

VELUX 5-Star Skylight Specialist Houseworks Daylighting Solutions replaced four existing ridge-style skylights with VELUX Ridgelights 25-40° and an old single-slope, structural skylight with a VELUX Longlight. And they did it while it was snowing.

The VELUX Ridgelight 25-40° is a classic looking skylight solution consisting of two rows of self-supporting skylights that add natural light and openness to the areas below. It’s mounted on standard steel profiles that enables a fast installation and a safe, economical building process.

The VELUX Longlight 5-25° is a single series of Modular Skylights ideal for adding natural light to larger rooms, corridors and hallways. It has a low-pitch design for flat roofs where a low profile is preferred. The longlight also features plug-and-play installation that saves time.

Mid-winter installation? No problem.

Houseworks Daylighting Solutions lead installer Matt Allison was impressed with the adaptability of the VMS product for cold weather installation. They took delivery of the product and staged it on the roof in a single day while it was snowing.

“We are pretty used to working in the cold; it’s part of what we do in Chicago,” Allison said. “Having no sealants to worry about was a plus. As a result, we set 38 modules on a day that it snowed. We couldn’t have done that with other products, especially if silicone would have been required. The use of a pre-engineered modular skylight system allowed us to come in under budget and our customer was very pleased.”

“The overall quality of this product is impressive” Allison said. “It’s designed for the Midwest with hot humid summers and cold, wet winters. A product that will stand up to conditions and can be installed in almost any weather gives us and our customers peace of mind that you can’t put a price tag on.”

VMS products are delivered on palettes with clear packaging for easy identification.
Houseworks Daylighting Solutions used a crane to load the skylight modules onto the roof in a single day. They used roof carts to roll the palettes into position.
Skylight modules are mounted on a patented system of steel plates on the curbs, making installation quick and simple.

A bright, happy store

Cermak Market’s skylights make for a unique shopping experience not found at other stores. Updating the skylights creates a pleasant shopping experience for customers and working environment for store employees.

Employees said they like having a bright store to work in during the day, adding that it lifts their moods.

“I notice that I smile a lot more at customers when I’m stocking the isles where the skylights are located,” one employee said.

Others noted that customers talk about the light the skylights bring into the store.

“Customers comment all the time how it’s so nice we have skylights in the store,” another store worker said. “They even notice when it’s overcast and rainy.”

After: Four VELUX ridgelights on the roof of Cermak Fresh Market provide a sleek appearance outside and plenty of natural light inside.
After: Four VELUX ridgelights on the roof of Cermak Fresh Market provide a sleek appearance outside and plenty of natural light inside.
After: Four VELUX ridgelights on the roof of Cermak Fresh Market provide a sleek appearance outside and plenty of natural light inside.
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