CRE N Illinois

Metal Construction Association honors two Chicago projects

IBEW Local 134 Headquarters/Union Hall, Chicago. IBEW Local 134 Headquarters/Union Hall, Chicago.
IBEW Local 134 Headquarters/Union Hall, Chicago. IBEW Local 134 Headquarters/Union Hall, Chicago.
Eleanor Boathouse, Chicago. Eleanor Boathouse, Chicago.
Eleanor Boathouse, Chicago. Eleanor Boathouse, Chicago.

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) acknowledged the IBEW Local 134 Headquarters/Union Hall and the Eleanor Boathouse, both located in Chicago, with the 2018 Chairman's Award. The IBEW Union Hall won in Commercial/Industrial category and Eleanor Boathouse won in the Municipal category.

The decisions for both awards were unanimous among this year's panel of distinguished architects: Steven G. Blye of Legat Architects, Steven Ginn of Steven Ginn Architects and Paul Mankins of substance architecture.

The IBEW Union Hall  $25-million project totals approximately 70,000 square feet: a 48,000-square-foot retrofit of the former Chicago Public Schools’ 1960s Drake Elementary School into IBEW administrative offices, plus a new, 22,000-square-foot wing to house the IBEW’s union hall and lobby.

Wight & Company served as architect and contractor, PPG Industries was the coating manufacturer, Architectural Panel Systems acted as metal installer and Sobotec Ltd. was metal fabricator on the project. According to Milica Stojsavljevic, project designer from Wight & Company, IBEW union leaders "wanted to create a gathering place that puts light on the union’s future as well as its legacy, a state-of-the-art facility that would set a precedent."

The project impacts the Bronzeville neighborhood revitalization not just aesthetically but socially, educationally and economically. The school’s original gymnasium has been renovated into a community center where neighborhood residents can play basketball, soccer and other indoor sports for free. The existing school building serves as Local 134’s business headquarters and houses offices, conference rooms and lounges—spaces that were not complementary with the previous classroom layout.

Everything was demolished except for the concrete structure and to rebuild the exterior skin and interiors. Aluminum panels were chosen with a proprietary fire-resistant core and custom colors to create a silhouette around a light-filled wall.

"This project takes a union hall beyond what anyone would typically do," said Blye. "The design is so elegant it could easily serve as a theater or museum."

In the Pilsen neighborhood, the 19,000-square-foot Eleanor Boathouse is the last of four new boathouses and river launches created by the Chicago Park District to reclaim the Chicago River as a major system of parks and water-based recreation. The design, incorporating alternating roof trusses, was inspired by the rhythm and motion of rowing.

"There's a Nordic feel to this," said Ginn. "It has a playfulness of bringing aspects of a boat into the design."

Studio Gang designed the boathouse and Walsh Construction was the contractor; Bennett & Brosseau, Inc. acted as metal installer, RHEINZINK America was the manufacturer and Sheet Metal Supply Ltd. was the regional rollformer.

The zinc used is 100 percent recyclable with a potential lifespan of 100 years or more. This choice of material aptly expresses the intent of conservation in regard to the river itself.

“By making the riverfront a destination for recreation, anchored by dynamic sustainable architecture, we hope to catalyze long-term stewardship and support of the river’s remediation,” said architect Jeanne Gang.

Winners in eight categories were announced at the MCA's Winter Meeting Awards Dinner in Key Largo, Florida on January 15th. Awards were given in eight categories: Overall Excellence; Residential; Metal Roofing; Education - Primary & Secondary Schools; Education - Colleges & Universities; Institutional; Municipal; and Commercial/Industrial.