December 22, 2021
Today’s feature in the countdown of our Top 100 Projects is a building near and dear to all Epsteiners: our corporate headquarters located at 600 West Fulton in Chicago’s West Loop.
Epstein's continual growth over the years at our former headquarters, 2011 Pershing Road, resulted in a progressively greater requirement for space. We saw great potential in a 9-story, 225,000-square-foot loft building at 600 West Fulton. The building had historical significance in that Sears, Roebuck and Co. first used it in 1902 as a HQ/distribution facility for their mail-order business. When we purchased the building in 1982, the appearance was practically unchanged from what it had been 80 years earlier.
Using the combined talents of our engineering, design and construction staff, we created exciting and efficient contemporary offices throughout the 9-story loft building. To renovate the 600 West Fulton Street warehouse for its new use, our designers viewed the building's interior as "space" and were not limited by its former use. Inside they found a sturdy wooden structure, brick bearing walls, and exposed piping as well as ceiling heights ranging from 20-28 feet and dramatic sawtooth skylighting on the 9th floor. These aspects of the building were viewed as assets and incorporated into the building's design. The wood beams were sandblasted, and the brick walls stripped of their plaster. We left the wood ceilings uncovered; in fact, we highlighted them by our choice of indirect lighting.
The fire protection system was adequate, but the electrical distribution and HVAC systems were completely replaced. The fire protection piping, the new electrical conduit, and air handling ductwork were left exposed, and then painted tan to coordinate with the neutral decor and to contrast with the dark wood ceilings. We have an open look to our offices. To create this, we preserved only the essential interior brick walls, and used glass partitions for the inward-facing office walls.
It was unusual that a building of this vintage did not have traditional Chicago-style windows - a large, middle glass panel sided by two narrower panels. To recall this historical character, we reconstructed all of the windows in the building.
This project received a National Design Award from the Society of American Registered Architects as well as an Award of Merit from the Chicago Lighting Institute.