Cool Building Wednesday: Sullivan Center

March 3, 2010


(photo by Lee Bey)

I took a stroll down State Street yesterday and took these photographs of the cast-iron restoration work at the former Carson Pirie Scott store.

There is some fascinating work going on there--right there on the sidewalk, right in plain view--as workers re-attach the restored pieces of century-plus iron ornament to the street-level frontage of Louis Sullivan's masterpiece.‚  Just look at the entry vestibule now.

Built in 1899 as Schlesinger and Mayer department store, the building became Carson Pirie Scott's flagship store in 1904.‚  When Carson's parent company closed the store in 2007, the building was sold and reborn as the Sullivan Center, an office and retail complex that is luring new tenants to State Street.

Part of the building's new lease on life is a first-class restoration of its cast-iron facade. Thanks to work led by Harboe Architects, we're seeing the ornament as it was originally intended with its even, dark green color and the ironwork's‚  organic, plant-like detail standing in relief:


(photo by Lee Bey)


(photo by Lee Bey)


(photo by Lee Bey)

We complain loudly when a piece of important architecture is lost in Chicago.‚  But we should cherish the victories, also.