Zinc-clad control house sets sail at Chicago Harbor Lock

Located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River, the Chicago Harbor Lock is one of the only lock systems that relies on gravity rather than pumps to shift water levels. With the 70-year-old system aging and in need of replacement, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates the Chicago Harbor Lock, commissioned CTE AECOM, Chicago, to design a new control house as the first phase of renovation of the locks. The primary issue was the need for a control operations facility with an unobstructed view of the harbor and locks, and secondary was the need for office space and maintenance and storage facilities.

The design of the $5.5 million control operation facility was driven by the size of the site, which is only 40 feet wide. The control house occupies the second floor and glass tower and provides a 270-degree view of the harbor. The tower is tilted and the desks are glass so engineers can look through them to the lock below. Schaefges Brothers, Wheeling, Ill., served as the general contractor for the project.

Shaffner Heaney Associates, South Bend, Ind., engineered and fabricated 9,000 sf of Reynobond Zinc Composite Material for the southern and eastern elevations of the lower building and on all elevations and soffit of the tower. BBC of Bensonville, Ill., attached the panels to the shear wall to create the geometry of a ship's bow, sides, and stern. Reynobond ZCM panels were also used on interior column enclosures and Reynobond Brushed Aluminum Composite Material was used to fabricate interior window stools.

“Zinc is one of the most environmentally friendly materials available,” says Melita Ristovska of CTE AECOM. “In this case, I believe the patina will develop a bluish color reflecting the natural environment of the locks, and, as it ages and the patina deepens, it will meld beautifully with the historic structures on the site.”

Alcoa

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