Building 13 Naval Station, Great Lakes, Ill.

October 12, 2010 |

Designed by Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt and constructed in 1903, Building 13 is one of 39 structures within the Great Lakes Historic District at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. The original boathouse, considered a “contributing structure with major significance,” reflects the Beaux Arts vocabulary and classical forms that Hunt applied to his work (1902-1911) at the Naval Station campus.

After more than a century of use, however, the building envelope, brick, terra cotta, windows, and roof were in sore need of repair, even as the Navy was seeking to expand the function of the nearly 27,000-sf boathouse to support year-round marine activity of the Great Lakes harbor with the addition of shops, classrooms, offices, toilets, and showers. However, any renovation had to be done within the strict guidelines of the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Base Exterior Architecture Plan (BEAP).

The design-build team, led by Chicago firm Johnson Lasky Architects, took on the structural problems more or less from top to bottom. Visual and physical inspections, materials testing (including brick and mortar analyses), and soundings on each individual terra cotta unit were conducted.

The roof was replaced with shingles over three-inch polyiso ventilated nail base insulation panels. Forty-year asphalt shingles rated for 110 mph wind loads were used to meet the BEAP’s historic requirements. New copper gutters, flashings, and terminations were installed.

At the turn of the 20th century, terra cotta was used as a mass-produced alternative to carved stone, and Hunt made extensive use of it in Building 13. Damaged terra cotta was replaced with new matching material from California manufacturer Gladding McBean. Brick was salvaged from Navy supplies of matching historic brick. Mortar was replicated based on an analysis of existing original material. New exterior doors replicated the original wood panel design. The glass transom above the main entrance door was fitted with laminated glass.

Windows were completely restored off site; missing glass was replaced with glazing that matched the original in texture, thickness, and type (“wavy”) to meet state historical preservation standards.

 With the building now providing year-round use, it was necessary to upgrade the mechanical system to forced air, with an air handler, ductwork, controls, and other equipment. The Building Team solved this problem by housing a new mechanical room between two existing mezzanines on opposite sides of the building within the warehouse.

In granting the project a Gold Award, the jury praised the Building Team’s attention to detail. “They had to tackle a lot of different components: brick, terra cotta, the windows, etc.,” said K. Nam Shiu, PE, SE, VP at Walker Restoration Consultants, Elgin, Ill. “This was a labor of love. It doesn’t look like any corners were cut,” said Tom Brooks, VP, Restoration Division, Berglund Construction, Chicago. “Instead of remove and throw away, they chose to remove and restore,” said George Tuhowski III, LEED AP, Director of Sustainability and General Superintendent, Leopardo Construction, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Judge Darlene Ebel, Director, Facility Information Management, University of Illinois at Chicago, called it “a good restoration, with good sustainability. The building still fits in with the whole area.” BD+C

* Note: Walker Johnson, FAIA, recused himself from the proceedings during the judging of this entry.


Building Team

Submitting firm: Johnson Lasky Architects (architect)

Owner: Naval Station Great Lakes

Environmental design: EDI, Inc.

Structural engineer: AHG Structural Engineering

MEP/fire protection engineer: KJWW Engineering

GC: Boaz Friedler Joint Venture

General Information

Area: 26,900 gsf

Construction cost: $5 million

Construction time: May 2007 to August 2009

Delivery method: Design-build

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