Reviving a Louis Sullivan Jewel
The victim of neglect, insensitive remodeling, fire, and foreclosure, Louis Sullivan’s 1895 masterpiece once seemed doomed to face the wrecking ball. The building was saved, however, when a developer decided that the building had the potential to be profitable if its original grandeur and prestige was completely restored. To bring this vision to life, we partnered with the developer to restore the building’s late nineteenth-century appearance while meeting contemporary needs and modern building codes.
In order to replicate nineteenth-century materials and workmanship, our design team spent a significant amount of time researching and locating craftsmen who still possessed skills and techniques that had largely disappeared. The terra-cotta façade that sheaths the 13-story office tower was refurbished; the marble mosaic ceilings, floors, friezes, and art glass skylights were restored; and ornamental stairways between the two floors were reopened, re-establishing the original circulation plan. Floors one and two are designed for retail space, while the rest of the building meets modern office requirements with a lay-in ceiling and efficient cores and corridors.
In 1983, the New York Times praised the project team for “brilliantly restoring” the building, noting that “The Guaranty has been fixed up not to change its life, but simply so it could go on being what it was always supposed to be.”