July 13, 2018


The Illinois Council of The American Institute of Architects (AIA Illinois) has named four of Epsteins projects to the Illinois 200 Great Places list!

To commemorate the Bicentennial of Illinois statehood in 2018, AIA Illinois convened a selection committee of architects, local officials and other organizations to name the 200 Great Places in our state. The list of Great Places emphasizes the collective sense of place created in cities and towns, as well as buildings designed by individual architects.

More than 11 years after the original 150 Illinois Great Places were named by AIA Illinois, Illinois' architects have added more Great Places to the list in honor of the states 200th birthday. Each of the 200 Great Places are accessible to the public, holds significance for local communities and creates a unique experience for visitors.

Illinois Bicentennial in 2018 was the perfect opportunity to take a stronger look at more contemporary architecture than we were able to do with the first 150, which went all the way back to the beginning of Illinois civilization, Kim Kurtenbach said in a statement, AIA, 2018 AIA Illinois Board President. As before, it was difficult to narrow the list to only 200. Separately and in total, our 200 Great Places are more than just examples of good or even great design they are a testament to humanitys need to shape their environment in a way that is often both vibrant and equitable.

Epsteins noted projects include the:

  • Federal Center, Chicago 1964 a project Epstein completed with Mies van der Rohe
  • United Airlines Terminal 1, Chicago 1988 collaborated with Jahn
  • Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago 1991 with Hammond, Beebe, Babka
  • Serta International Center, Hoffman Estates 2009

Federal Center:

This 3-building complex, designed by Mies van der Rohe, houses U.S. Postal Service facilities, federal court facilities and government offices.Epstein provided Architect of Record and complete engineering design services for this project, which includes the 30-story, 1,385,000 square foot Everett McKinley Dirksen Building, the 45-story, 1,500,000 square foot John C. Kluczynski Building, and a single-story general post office. Large open areas, which contain paintings and sculptures, were planned around and within the buildings.

This project received the Distinguished Building Award presented by the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

United Airlines Terminal 1:

The Chicago O'Hare International Airport Development Program was designed to upgrade Chicago's principal airport to meet the long-range transportation needs of the Chicago metropolitan area. As part of this program, United Airlines built a new 1.2 million square foot terminal complex on the site of the former International Terminal. Epstein, as Architect/Engineer of Record, worked in association with Helmut Jahn, the Design Architect.

United's Terminal 1 includes a main and parallel concourse separated by over 800 feet of paved tarmac between the two structures. This allows for dual taxiing of wide-body aircraft between the two concourses. An underground pedestrian tunnel, equipped with moving sidewalks and an overhead kinetic light sculpture, connects these concourses. The terminal further houses one of the world's largest underground baggage-handling rooms, capable of processing 480 bags per minute.

The facility operates with a variety of security systems, including CCTV, metal detectors, and door monitors, depending on area and function. This 1.2 million square foot terminal is entirely handicapped accessible. Doors are equipped with manual, card access, code, and electric remote controlled locking mechanisms.

Terminal 1 received the AIA National Honor Award for Design.

Harold Washington Library Center:

The 10-story, 750,000 square foot library center is one of the largest public libraries in the world. It is significant for the unique design/build aspect of its construction and its location among the historic buildings at the south end of the loop. As Architect of Record, Epstein was responsible for the architecture, structure and building management systems, as well as management of 14 primary consultants in supporting disciplines.

The building is concrete frame, flat slab construction for the library floors, which are characterized by broad flexible floor plates. The upper two levels are steel frame and house the winter garden and administrative functions. The classical exterior is clad in brick and granite and is capped at the roof with large-scale decorative sculptural elements.

Typical library floors contain shelving stacks for the 1.5 million-volume collection along with staff and reading areas. Most areas are served by an under floor cellular system allowing flexible distribution of communication, data and electrical wiring that support a truly state-of-the-art facility. In addition to shelf space, the library contains reader seating for 2,337 patrons, an auditorium that seats 385, multipurpose meeting rooms for 450 individuals, a video theater, an orientation theater, a public restaurant, a library store and classrooms.

The center received an Award of Excellence for its design from the Urban Land Institute.

Serta International Center

Epstein provided full architectural and interior design services as well as civil, MEP and structural engineering for the new Serta, Inc. corporate headquarters in the Prairie Stone Development in Hoffman Estates. The program consisted of 60,000 square feet of office, showroom and presentation areas, plus a 20,000 square foot research and development center and a 10,000 square foot basement. The selected site borders a protected wetlands area and, as a result, the building was designed to take advantage of the site, allowing all work areas to have vistas to the outdoors.

The 17-acre parcel Prairie Stone site is part of an environmentally-sensitive business park. The site is directly adjacent to a protected wetlands area which serves as an integral part of the storm water management system. The net effect of the composition is a building elevated in a sea of green prairie grass. The architectural massing of the building was developed to express the two main programmatic functions: research and development and office work space. The office work space is contained in the linear bar structure which parallels the property line of the site, opening to the wetlands. This allows natural light and equal visual access to the wetlands for all workers in the building.

The structure containing the R&D facility and is designed to engage the bar structure at the programmatic center of the building. Located at the heart of the building are the public spaces such as showrooms, lunch room, and the training auditorium. The second level opens onto an outdoor deck area covered by a sunshade canopy which has been designed as an extension of the R&D roof structure. The canopy is articulated as a pattern which will reflect Sertas interest in textures and fabrics. The curtainwall glass perimeter is shaded by horizontal louvers. The design intent of the building is to float lightly on the landscape reinforcing the notion of environmental sustainability and echoing the lines of the prairie landscape.

This project also won the prestigious AIA National Honor Award.

All of the 200 Great Places are featured in a new website. AIA Illinois even created a new Instagram account. Each of the newly named Places will receive a special commemorative plaque!

Way to go, Epstein!