Picture yourself walking into the Great Hall at Union Station in Chicago. With its huge columns, arches, and skylights, the Great Hall is a spectacular interior space. Rays of light cascade from the skylight into this waiting area for passengers.
Built in 1925, Union Station was originally designed by Daniel Burnham, an American architect. Over the past ninety years, leaks had developed in the skylight, and plaster had degraded in the Great Hall. Construction is now underway to alleviate those problems. The $22 million project will refurbish the 219-foot long skylight and repair plaster throughout the Great Hall.
An article at https://archpaper.com, “Chicago Union Station Renovation Will Brighten the Great Hall,” describes the process:
“To address the skylight’s water problems, each of the 2,052 pieces of glass will be replaced and a new third layer of glass will be added above the entire opening. The new high-efficiency, fully transparent glass panes will replace the current wire-embedded glass, and the end result is expected to allow about 50 percent more light into the space. Once the significant water damage on the walls is repaired, the entire Great Hall will be repainted in its original color.”
This phase of Union Station’s renovation is being funded by Amtrak, which owns the building. The renovation is expected to be completed in late 2018.
More controversial is a proposal by Chicago-based architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) to construct a seven-story addition atop the current Union Station. The proposed glass rectangle would contain a hotel, apartments, an office complex, and retail. Reaction has been less than enthusiastic. One article appearing June 26, 2018 at https://archpaper.com compares this proposal to the disaster at Soldier Field. In “Will a proposed addition turn Chicago’s Union Station into the new Soldier Field?” Elizabeth Blasius writes, “In 2004, Chicago watched historic Soldier Field become a toilet bowl. In 2019, Union Station will become a self-inked address stamper.” Blasius feels that “the addition reads as out of scale and context for the existing building.”
Since Union Station was listed as a Chicago Landmark in 2002, the plans for the proposed seven-story addition would have to be reviewed by The Commission on Chicago Landmarks before a permit is issued. Using Chicago’s Landmark Ordinance as its guide, the commission would consider the appropriateness of the proposed addition on this Chicago Landmark. Blasius believes that “the plan as presented should be considered by the CCL as an adverse effect on a designated local landmark.”
—By Karen Centowski
To see a rendering of the proposed addition and to read the entire article, go to https://archpaper.com/2018/06/will-proposed-addition-turn-chicagos-union-station-into-new-soldier-field