This week’s Epstein Throwback Thursday takes us back to August 1993 for the opening of the Midway Airport Exit Toll Plaza in Chicago. This modernist gem was designed and engineered by Epstein and was comprised of a small parking office, containing two desks and a bathroom, a vehicular canopy, a pedestrian canopy, toll booths and a garden wall.
The canopy stood at the main entrance to Midway Airport at Cicero Avenue and due to its location and function, the canopy simultaneously acted as a sign, weather protection, and gateway to the Chicago.
The form and scale of the main canopy was intended to act as a unifying element for the various functional pieces. The wall elements were designed to contain the composition and emphasize its presence along Cicero Avenue, the main vehicular artery serving Midway. The opaque elements (the bathroom block and enclosure wall) contain the composition while the office is transparent, allowing supervisory personnel to observe the toll booths. The small canopy slides under the larger one, allowing for covered pedestrian access to the toll booths. And, at night, the canopy functions as a large reflector, illuminating the toll plaza and guiding motorists to the exit.
Our design was well received by our client and also the winner of a Distinguished Building and Divine Detail Award from the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture.
Lastly, if you are curious, this Toll Plaza no longer stands, although the cantilevered canopies from this award-winning structure served as the inspiration for the main entrance canopy when Midway Airport was completely redesigned and redeveloped, a project that was completed in 2004 and, for which, Epstein served as the lead architect and engineer.
The new Midway Airport - featuring the Toll Plaza inspired canopy