News / 5.13.15

Throwback Thursday – Vienna Sausage Manufacturing Company

This 95,000 sf meat processing facility four separate facilities into one to produce corned beef, smoked and cooked meats, hot dogs, and, Chicago’s beloved favorite, sausage!

Although it's only a balmy 50 degrees in Chicago at least there's not snow on the ground, which means we are all thinking of summer, and the fact that copious amounts of grilling and ingesting of a Second City (to none) favorite – sausage – is just around the corner! (Side note – the correct pronunciation of that sacred delicacy is – sassage) With this delicious thought in mind we've decided to take our weekly Throwback Thursday trip back to 1973 for the opening of the Vienna Sausage Manufacturing Company food processing plant located at 2501 N. Damen. A 95,000 square foot meat processing facility that consolidated four separate Vienna facilities into one to produce corned beef, smoked and cooked meats, hot dogs, and, Chicago's beloved favorite, sausage!

This plant featured a unique design for an industrial facility – instead of utilizing pre-cast concrete or ribbed metal – the Vienna facility was built of brick and colored mortar in order to achieve a client goal that this building serve as not only a world class, efficient and easily maintained meat processing plant but become Vienna's 'beautiful home' as well. In fact, the design was considered so distinctive for the time that the Society of American Registered Architects at their annual conference in '73 awarded the Vienna Plant a Gold Medal for Architectural Excellence.

In addition to Vienna's distinguished design, Epstein's architects and engineers were also charged with controlling the pollution output for the plant. Therefore this plant featured an industrial waste water treatment system, which was designed by our civil engineering group, as well as a cutting-edge energy saving scrubbing system for the smokehouses in order to reduce air pollution.

This Vienna facility was completed nearly 50 years after our first project with Vienna, a partnership that included multiple projects in Chicagoland as well as a modernist, almost Miesian, office and manufacturing facility in Vernon, California.

(Elevation of the Vernon, California facility)

For those of you not from Chicago, the Vienna Sausage Company was founded in 1893 by Austrian-Hungarian immigrants, Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany, and this duo introduced their family's frankfurter recipe at Chicago's famous World Columbian Exposition. In fact, Emil and Sam's 'dogs' were such a big hit at the fair that the Vienna brand was born shortly thereafter and now has been in business now for 122 years!

(Processing floor at Vienna's Halsted location - 1958)

This building still stands and you can even visit the factory for a tour or to purchase Vienna's yumminess at the company store. One caveat on this building is that it won't be around much longer. The Chicago Department of Transportation is in the beginning stages of fixing the intersection nightmare at Damen, Elston and Fullerton Avenues, which means Elston is going to be relocated directly through Vienna's building. Thankfully this doesn't mean the end of Vienna in Chicago, the company is moving their operations to Bridgeport, where they will continue to produce their world-class 'sassage' to delight of Chicagoans everywhere!