The Old Chicago Main Post Office building has been through a lot. Built in 1921, expanded in 1932, and vacated in 1997, the building has remained vacant despite numerous attempts at renovation and redevelopment. It’s a large and spacious building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and featured in multiple Hollywood blockbusters, yet for nineteen years efforts to utilize the vacated space kept falling through. In 2016, however, New York-based 601W Companies began work on their master plan: turning the building into a sprawling riverfront mixed-use office space, complete with restaurants, shops, entertainment, and a rooftop park.
G&R has been involved with the project since 2016 and has provided multiple pricing scenarios for various banks of elevators. As the project progresses and more intricate details of the restoration are discovered, G&R’s involvement has continued. Most recently six custom cabs were sent to the Chicago jobsite for installation. The elevator service contractor performing the work is Chicago’s Parkway Elevators.
G&R has worked with Parkway Elevators in the past, collaborating on several projects, one of them being on a G&R favorite—the Chicago Athletic Association hotel, another building renovation similar to the Old Chicago Main Post Office venture. The design for the Post Office cabs involves some of the same design elements that G&R has quoted in the past, only now with alternative materials, making for a fairly straightforward project. The cabs will feature many common custom cab materials: black safety glass, etched metals, and a lot of oxidized bronze. Oxidized metal has seen a resurgence, and oxidized bronze will be the perfect look for the historic art-deco style of the Post Office.
We normally oxidize bronze in-house, a process which is more akin to an art than a science. For this job, however, it was better to let an outside vendor handle the process. Each lobby cab has a number of large pieces, and there needed to be consistent oxidation results with each piece. In this case, our vendor covered more than just the oxidizing—they formed and cut as well, so the pieces that were sent to us were ready for assembly.
The rear wall of each cab is comprised of three oxidized bronze insets, and the centerpiece includes a very large etching of a historic vault. Sidewalls are comprised of black colored safety glass, and each wall has an oxidized bronze panel behind the oxidized bronze handrails. The call buttons and signage are brass.
The cabs’ ceilings are composed of oxidized brushed bronze and come equipped with downlights and perimeter lighting. This particular variety of perimeter lighting provides uniform LED light through each panel, which has removed the need for another wired-up light fixture. Instead, we drop the LED lighting into the ceiling frame and run a wire to the cab top. It’s not only low-voltage; it also serves as emergency lighting. The LEDs should last for ten to twenty years, but if it needs to be replaced the new lighting can be dropped in from above.
Once this project is completed we will share detailed photos in our Project Gallery. In the meantime, we invite you to contact our team if you have questions about this project or our work—we have found that the best outcomes are achieved when our team is consulted early in the design process.
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