News / 11.5.15

Throwback Thursday – Combined Insurance Company of America

A 10+ year project that transformed Combined’s modest facility into a massive example of 60’s modernism

Today’s stop on our weekly Throwback Thursday trip recalling significant projects in Epstein’s history takes us to Chicago, February 1971 for the completion of the 380,000 square foot Combined Insurance Company of America office building. The conclusion of this project, located at 5050 North Broadway, marked the end of over 10 years of various renovations, remodels and additions to Combined’s headquarters. Since the early 60’s Epstein was involved in a variety of design and engineering projects at this site which eventually transformed Combined’s modest facility into a massive example of 60’s modernism.

In 1959, Combined moved to an existing 77,000 square foot building at 5050 North Broadway but soon realized that their business was expanding at a rate that would soon make this facility inadequate. Therefore, Epstein was hired in 1960 to develop schemes and plans for a new 6 story addition that would create an additional 110,000 square feet of office space for 1,000 employees and, most importantly, room for Combined’s new extensive collection of IBM computer equipment. This modern addition featuring aluminum sash and structural glass was juxtaposed with the original circa 20s building creating a striking image of old and new. This addition was completed in 1962.

This addition fulfilled the needs of Combined for 6 more years when due to continued growth the further need for significant new space was required. Therefore, Epstein was once again called upon to design and engineer a solution for Combined real estate needs. The solution developed included a new 10-story, 185,000 square foot reinforced concrete structure which would replace most of the original 20s building. In addition, to this new building, Epstein’s architects and engineers were also tasked with refacing the entry portion of the existing 20’s era building and creating a more prominent lobby entrance for Combined. A space that also contained a fairly significant private art collection that Combined curated.

Combined operated out of this facility until 2010 when it took up space at the Illinois Center at 111 E. Wacker. Currently, this 5050 North Broadway building houses a variety of small businesses and medical/dental professionals.