Old Main Post Office, Gensler, 601 W Companies, Wiss, Janney, Elstner, Mcquire, Igleski & associates, terra cotta restoration, architectural terra cotta

Currently The Largest Adaptive Reuse Project in the U.S., the Restoration of Chicago’s Old Main Post Office is Underway

Boston Valley Terra Cotta is currently manufacturing terra cotta masonry for the massive restoration of the Old Main Post Office, one of Chicago’s finest architectural gems. The NeoClassical landmark was originally designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and was completed in 1921. The building was in use for many years as the main federal post office in Chicago. In 1997 the post office moved to a more modern facility and the building sat empty for twenty years afterward. Talks of reconstruction came about in 2011, however, the restoration of the Old Main Post Office did not begin until after 2017 when 601 W Companies acquired the lot and began planning to revive the building.

Leading the restoration project is the architecture firm Gensler, along with preservation architects Mcguire, Igleski & Associates, and forensic consultants at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates among others. Many parties have been brought into this project due to its enormous scope — including the restoration of the luxurious Art Deco lobby, and the addition of a food hall, a 3-acre rooftop terrace, and public riverwalk. With 9 stories and 2.8 million square feet of work to be done, the Old Main Post Office is currently the largest adaptive reuse project in the United States.

The replacement pieces of terra cotta masonry being fabricated are befitting of the grand scale of the Old Main Post Office. Some units are very large and some are much smaller — with a range of forms being created, Boston Valley’s capabilities with traditional and modern fabrication techniques makes for efficient manufacturing with beautiful results. Through the scope of this project Boston Valley will use all four forming methods: Hand Press, Slip Casting, Extrusion, and RAM Press. Copies of original blocks with more ornate detailing are created through Slip Casting, while less sculptural units are produced with the RAM Press; both forming methods are beneficial for duplicating pieces of the same unit.

The completion of the Old Main Post Office restoration is anticipated for 2019.

Old Main Post Office, Gensler, 601 W Companies, Wiss, Janney, Elstner, Mcquire, Igleski & associates, terra cotta restoration, architectural terra cotta

Terra cotta masonry drying in the factory before glaze application and firing.

 

Old Main Post Office, Gensler, 601 W Companies, Wiss, Janney, Elstner, Mcquire, Igleski & associates, terra cotta restoration, architectural terra cotta

Large terra cotta units after fabrication.