October 14, 2021
For today’s Top 100 Projects countdown, we journey back to 1958 for project no. 62: the Epstein-designed and engineered Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (JFMC) headquarters.
This 66,000-square-foot office building, located at 1 South Franklin, served not only as the JFMC’s main administration building, but also housed affiliated agencies. Some of these include the Jewish Children’s Bureau, the Jewish Family and Community Services, the Jewish Vocational and Employment Service, the Jewish Welfare Fund of Chicago and the Combined Jewish Appeal of Metropolitan Chicago.
At the dedication, Illinois Gov. William Stratton described this building as a "splendid symbol of the spirit, strength, and importance of Jewish charitable efforts." Furthermore, the building was, in essence, the heart of philanthropic life for Chicago's Jewish community, striving to help the local community but also the Chicagoland region in developing solutions for common problems of living (family issues, illness, aging, homelessness and child abuse). The goal was made very clear in the cornerstone inscription, which read "To the welfare of the Jewish community and to the benefit of all mankind."
The JFMC called this building their home until they moved into their current headquarters at 30 S. Wells in 2006. Nevertheless, Epstein’s involvement with the building continued. The La Quinta Corporation, looking for a location for their flagship Chicago hotel, identified the building as the perfect spot. Epstein was subsequently hired by La Quinta to renovate and reconfigure the office building into a new, modern hotel, a task that was completed in 2009 when La Quinta Inn & Suites opened.