224 South Michigan Avenue — Santa Fe Center (Railway Exchange Building)
224 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL
The compressive forces within the terra cotta were a cause for concern at the busy intersection of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Street.
The dismantled terra cotta revealed under-lying steel, which the window head pieces are suspended from.
Three terra cotta corners were completely rebuilt, including new brick back-up masonry, rehabilitation of the under-lying steel column and the installation of a new uni-strut anchoring system to hold the new terra cotta in place.
The Santa Fe Center, which was built in 1904 as the Railway Exchange Building by D.H. Burnham & Co., is a 17-story building that is clad in glazed white terra cotta. The distinctive façade that consists of bay windows and porthole windows was in trouble by the early 2000s— a lack of supporting steel (common in many early skyscrapers) was causing a tremendous amount of pressure on the stacked pieces of terra cotta, especially at the corners of the building which was evident in the cracking patterns on the facade. Central worked closely with structural engineers and devised a cost-effective structural system for the terra cotta at the corners of the building. Additionally, the terra cotta facade was restored on the Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard elevations. The Santa Fe Center now stands as a gleaming example of a successful masonry restoration on the notable “street wall” of Michigan Avenue.