S.R. Crown Hall
Renovation of S.R. Crown Hall at Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture in Chicago served as more than just an update to a 50-year-old building.
For students, teachers and area architects, the project became a valuable learning tool, explains Tom Sinnott, renovation sales representative at the Chicago office for contract glazier Harmon Inc.
“This was the first time I had seen observation platforms and portals built into the sandblast protection,” Sinnott says. “They had portals of clear plastic so architects, students and other interested people could literally stand over the shoulders of the craftsmen on the job.”
Much of that interest stems from German architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s revolutionary design. “It’s considered a temple of modernist architecture,” Sinnott says. “It’s a very well-known building in the architectural community, as well as a focal point for the campus itself.”
The $3.6 million renovation of the one-story building replaced the curtain wall with stronger and more energy-efficient glazing, while maintaining the original appearance, Sinnott says. Harmon replaced the 1⁄4-inch polished plate glass and steel stops with a new system, featuring 120 lower lites of 1⁄4-inch, clear, tempered glass with a sandblasted interior lite from Owatonna, Minn.-based Viracon, and 68 upper lites of 1⁄2-inch PPG Starphire ultra-clear glass, he says.
“They were able to improve the look of the glass with the oversized, low-iron glass on the top lites,” Sinnott says. “It took it back more to what the original intent of the design was.”
The garden level features the clear, sandblasted glass in 136 steel windows from Hope’s Windows Inc. in Jamestown, N.Y.
The decision to use the sandblasted glass on the lower lites resulted from an “exhaustive search by the architect to find a material that would reduce fingerprints and tape marks,” as architecture students use the glass to hang drawings, Sinnott says.
The renovation was packed into a tight three-month window during the summer, and was completed in mid August, about a week before the start of the fall 2005 semester, Sinnott says.
Chicago’s Clune Construction Co. served as the general contractor, and the renovation architect was Krueck & Sexton Architect Inc. of Chicago. Austin AECOM’s Chicago office served as the historic preservation consultant.