Restoration of the Blackstone Hotel

November 20, 2008
The historic Blackstone Hotel, on Michigan Avenue in Chicago's South Loop, was designed by Marshall & Fox Architects and was completed in 1910. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this landmark hotel has hosted numerous presidents in its long storied history including, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

The original ornate brick and terra cotta facade of the hotel's twenty-three-story neoclassical Beaux-Arts facade had recently fallen into disrepair. In 2005, however, new owners initiated a comprehensive interior and exterior restoration of the building. Lucien LaGrange Architects retained WJE to provide restoration services for the building's exterior masonry facade, windows, and roof.

WJE conducted a comprehensive condition investigation of the building's terra cotta, brick, and granite elements. WJE professionals conducted facade cleaning studies and made appropriate repair and restoration recommendation for the hotel's roof, masonry, and windows.

Restoration of the exterior masonry facade and signature mansard roof included replacement of approximately two thousand cracked and deteriorated terra cotta units with new terra cotta, repair and restoration of thousands of existing terra cotta nits with new non corrosive anchors, replacement of large areas of distressed brick masonry, repointing of all mortar joints to protect against water penetration, replacement of non original aluminum windows with new aluminum framed windows, and replacement of the gray metal roof with a new green patina aluminum roof to replicate the appearance of the original copper roof. Care was taken to provide quality materials that closely matched the appearance and color of the original masonry where new brick and terra cotta was needed.

The interior of the building was gutted as well, and historic rooms were restored with equal care and attention to detail. As a result of WJE's efforts, the Blackstone Hotel has been awakened to a renewed beauty and grandeur of when it was originally built.

As a result, Lucien LaGrange Architects and WJE were recognized for their efforts in the renovation of the Blackstone Hotel, receiving awards from the Chicago Landmark Award for Preservation Excellence from the Commission of Chicago Landmarks, Excellence in Masonry (gold award) from the Illinois Indiana Masonry Council, Design Award (silver medal) from the Association of Licensed Architects, and 2008 Project of the Year from Midwest Construction.

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