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Extreme Preservation: Big Moves & 'Architectural Taxidermy'

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The slow roll of the landmark Rees House this week, potentially the heaviest home move in the country's history, as well as the recent Van Bergen House move, demonstrate the great lengths (figuratively, in the former case) that preservationists will go to save important buildings. But these two moves are far from the only cases of extreme preservation in Chicago history. Curbed asked Lisa DiChiera, Director of Advocacy for Landmarks Illinois, to give us some recent examples of other engineering feats that helped restore and save classic construction.

↑ Mather Tower (2002)
When the gold cupola of this slender, 21-story skyscraper began crumbling, the only solution was airlifting a replacement. A helicopter was drafted to ferry a 21,700-pound replacement from a river barge to the top of the "inverted spyglass." During the move, the motion of the rotor blades actually spun the structure, whipping around heavy metal cables.

↑ Farwell Building (2008)
Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin called the plan to save this building's classic facade "architectural taxidermy." Developers literally "skinned" the exterior of the building, a historic example of Beaux Art and Art Deco styles from the 1920s, demolished the frame, and re-applied it to a new structure.

↑ Randolph Tower (2013)
This 1920's tower, originally known as the Steuben Club Building, saw its terra cotta facade fall into a state of disrepair to the point where nothing less that a total overhaul was required; the building had a brief moment of infamy when a piece fell onto the L tracks in 2001. The renovation project completed last year was massive; 32,000 terra cotta pieces were fabricated, replaced or fixed, as well as gargoyles on the 39th floor.
Patrick Sisson
·The Landmark Rees House Begins its Epic One Block Journey [Curbed Chicago]
·Historic Van Bergen House Makes Move Across North Shore [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous preservation coverage [Curbed Chicago]