The renovation of Bronzeville’s historic Bee Branch Library and the conversion of the Loop’s Johnson Publishing Building from offices into rental apartments were among ten projects to receive an Excellence in Preservation Award from the city’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Monday.
Established in 1999, the annual awards highlight projects based on “extraordinary design, craftsmanship, and community impact.” To be eligible, properties must be a recognized Chicago landmark or situated within a landmark district. Here are the ten notable preservation projects that earned recognition.
Quincy CTA station
Dating back to 1897, the Loop’s Quincy L stop was recognized for a recent modernization program that brought full accessibility to the downtown station without sacrificing its design by architect A.M. Hedley. The $18.2 million undertaking added two new elevators, updated lighting, tiled flooring, stairs, and doors. “This project serves as proof that a structure can be adapted to accommodate everyone while still retaining its historic character and integrity,” wrote the Chicago Department of Planning and Development in a statement.
Johnson Publishing Building
Once home to Chicago-based Ebony and Jet magazines, South Michigan Avenue’s Johnson Publishing Building reopened this year as 150 apartment units. The 11-story landmark building was designed by John Moutoussamy in 1971 and remains Chicago’s only high-rise designed by an African American architect. Developer 3L Real Estate completed extensive interior and exterior work and added a new amenity deck below the buildings’ iconic “Ebony JP Jet” rooftop signage.
Chicago Bee Branch Library
Located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood at 3647 S. State Street, the Chicago Bee Branch Library was designed by architect Z. Erol Smith and completed in 1931. The building originally housed the Chicago Bee newspaper and was later converted into a branch of the Chicago Public Library. A recent $2.32 million renovation, overseen by the city’s Department of Fleet & Facility Management, restored the structure’s storefronts to their original historic appearance as well as carried out extensive repairs to the terracotta Art Deco exterior.
Lofts on Arthington
In North Lawndale, nonprofit developer Mercy Housing Lakefront earned recognition for restoring a 111-year-old former Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog printing facility into 181 units of affordable housing. The project at 3301 W. Arthington Street also earned a Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award earlier this year.
In Fulton Market, the 1920s-era Howard Building at 1000 W. Randolph Street has been converted into new retail space by prolific West Loop developer Sterling Bay. The $2.1 million restoration repaired the structure’s masonry facade, restored bricked-over window openings, and installed new glass to match the historic windows. The Howard Building is a contributing property within the FultonRandolph Market District, and its rehab “ serves as a gold standard for the rest of the district,” according to the DPD.
Episcopal Church of the Advent
Designed by architect Elmer C. Jensen in the mid-1900s and closed in 2016, Logan Square’s Episcopal Church of the Advent reopened this year as nine apartment units. Although the landmark protection does not extend to the interior of the former religious structure, JAB Real Estate preserved architecture features such as decorative woodwork, trim, and stained glass windows, noted officials from the city’s Department of Planning and Development.
Triangle Motors showroom
This long-vacant, 100-year-old former automobile showroom located in the Motor Row historic district on Chicago’s Near South Side was restored into commercial space by Windy City RE. The project repaired the vintage building’s brick and terracotta exterior, installed new windows, and restored its commercial storefront. It provides a “creative example of what is possible for similar structures in the district,” said the DPD.
The Chicago’s 2019 Excellence in Preservation Awards also recognized a handful of smaller-scale residential projects. These included the rehabilitation of an old sandstone three-flat in Lakeview and a pair of new construction single-family homes that were designed to complement their respective historic districts in Wicker Park and Kenwood.