Tag Archives: renovation


Chicago Union Station
Chicago Union Station

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


Did you know that the Illinois Governor’s Mansion in Springfield is the third-oldest governor’s mansion still in use in the United States? Designed by Chicago architect John M. Van Osdel, the sixteen room Italianate mansion was completed in 1855.

After decades of neglect and lack of upkeep, the Illinois Governor’s Mansion at 410 E. Jackson Street in Springfield had suffered significant interior and exterior deterioration. Roof repairs were a priority to prevent further water damage to the interior.

In May of 2015, the non-profit Illinois Executive Mansion Association launched a campaign to raise $15 million from private donors to restore the 162-year-old mansion. Two years later, the association had reached its goal. The yearlong renovation began.

During the renovation, Governor Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, lived in the Director’s House on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. When asked about living on the fairgrounds, “I have to say, I’ll be happy not to be listening to the speedway anymore,” Diana joked. “I’ll be listening to the trains instead.”

When the renovation is complete, the mansion will be ADA-accessible and have a fully functioning kitchen in the private residence. It will also have a revamped visitor’s experience to showcase the history of Illinois. According to The State Journal-Register posting May 21, 2018, “The mansion will include exhibits highlighting 1893’s World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois life during the Civil War, the children who have lived in the mansion, and an “Art of Illinois” project showcasing 80 pieces of fine and decorative art throughout the building.”

According to The State Journal-Register, the goal is to complete restoration in time for the August 2018 bicentennial of Illinois statehood. “This is one of the most historic, beautiful governor’s mansions anywhere in the United States, and we’re very proud to have it restored to its historic beauty,” Governor Rauner said.

What’s ahead for the mansion? Diana Rauner, who had co-chaired the non-profit Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association, said, “Ensuring that the building is well-taken care of is really important. One of the things that we’re so proud of is that this building will now be part of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Department of Natural Resources. It will be well-curated and well-cared for.”

—By Karen Centowski

To see photos taken during the restoration, go to Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/illinoismansion/