October 9, 2019


The Chicago Architecture Centers annual "Open House Chicago," where architecturally-significant and interesting buildings are made available to the general public, takes place on Oct. 19th and 20 this year. It features multiple Epstein-designed and/or engineered buildings, including Ignite Glass Studios, Testa Produce, Harold Washington Library Center, McCormick Place West, 150 N. Riverside, and 200 S. Michigan.

Last year, more than 100,000 people took part in the event and, with upwards of 350 sites opening up for this years version, attendance is sure to dramatically increase.

Ignite Glass Studios, which won a Distinguished Building and Divine Detail Award from the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, saw Epsteins architects and engineers renovate a 70's era industrial building into a 15,000-square-foot glass blowing studio. Ignite also features classrooms, an art gallery, and a one-of-a-kind assembly/event space located at 401 N. Armour in Chicagos West Loop.

The Testa Produce Headquarters and Distribution Center is one of the most green industrial facilities of its kind and the first LEED-NC Platinum Refrigerated Distribution Facility. Testa, which is located at 4555 South Racine Avenue, features numerous Epstein developed sustainable design and engineering strategies, including incorporating a 238-foot-tall wind turbine that provides power to the facility, and a variety of landscape, solar and water conservation features.

The 10-story, 750,000-square-foot Harold Washington Library Center is one of the largest public libraries in the world. In the late 80's, as a member of the SEBUS Group - a joint venture group comprised of Schal Associates Partnership, Epstein, Hammond Beeby and Babka, and U.S. Equities Realty, Inc. Epstein helped shape the South Loop area of the City of Chicago. Located at 400 S State Street, Harold Washington features 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.

McCormick Place West Green Roof, a project located at 301 East Cermak Road, involved Epstein leading a 25-member design and engineering team for a 2,385,077-square-foot addition to the McCormick Place Convention Center. The addition features a 96,000-square-foot green roof that retains about 77,812 gallons of stormwater that would otherwise flow into Lake Michigan. Nearly 40,000 plants have been used to green approximately 15 percent of McCormick Places nearly 1 million-square-foot rooftop. The McCormick green roof is the second largest in the Chicago and one of the largest modular green roofs in the world.

At 150 N. Riverside, Epstein provided civil engineering services to Riverside Investment and Development for this 54-story commercial high-rise building. 150 is located near the confluence of the three branches of the Chicago River as well as existing passenger rail lines and therefore the civil design was more challenging than a typical high-rise tower site. Only the building core could touch down onto the tiny ½ acre parcel in order to fit between Amtrak tracks to the west and the Chicago River to the east. A public plaza was created from an overbuild over the Amtrak tracks at the level of the two roadway viaducts north and south. What used to be an inaccessible gravel covered site with 100 percent runoff was transformed into a public plaza with 56 percent landscaped area. And, stormwater from the overbuild plaza and the building green roof is routed by pipe to the east edge of the site where it is filtered before discharging into the Chicago River.

Finally, 200 S. Michigan, is a modernist 22-story, 350,000-square-foot high-rise office building designed by Epstein that was built in 1958 and helped introduce the "international" style of architecture to Chicago. This new style got its name from an architectural exhibit curated by Phillip Johnson at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that featured the work of Gropius, Mies and Corbusier. The international style embraced technology, thereby allowing a steel-framed building to reach heights unheard of with masonry structures. These buildings also featured square or rectangular footprints, a simple cubic form, windows running in broken horizontal rows forming a grid and façade 90 degree angles. 200 N. Michigan was also one of the first buildings in Chicago to employ true curtainwall construction and also the first on Michigan Avenue to break away from the limestone and bronze look, using blue porcelain enamel and glass instead.

For a full list of the buildings participating in Open House Chicago and view how to register, please click here.