General Services Administration
EM Dirksen & JC Kluczynski Federal Complex Restoration
This project included repairs to the original curtain wall systems at these iconic buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Project Overview

The Everett M. Dirksen Courthouse and the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building were built in 1964 and 1973, respectively, and are part of the federal office complex in Chicago’s downtown Loop. The buildings were designed by Mies van der Rohe, and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This project centered on restoring the curtain wall systems at the buildings, which were among the first to be constructed of both steel and aluminum elements.

Approach

The facade repair scope included repairs to the original curtain wall systems, restoration of the peeling exterior paint finish, replacement of deteriorated glass-to-metal and metal-to-metal building joint seals, installation of a proper weep system to drain water from the curtain wall system, and the addition of blast resistant solar film to window lights to improve thermal efficiency. A mast climber platform system was chosen to provide access to perform the repairs.

Berglund led the paint selection process, which proved challenging because there is an inverse relationship between finish longevity (color and gloss retention) and the desired high gloss level. After an extensive mock-up and research process, Berglund's team found a paint solution that best achieved a compromise between the two major project goals: longevity and historical accuracy.

The project team identified a particular window joint as the likely point of water infiltration, which collected in the vertical tube mullions. Upon closer field inspection during initial mockup attempts, Berglund’s team discovered that field conditions varied to a significant degree from anticipated conditions. To achieve the repair based on the new findings, Berglund devised a pliable, flat tape version of the original preformed silicone gasket that performed like the original Mies design

From the Team
Jack Tribbia

Berglund brought value to the GSA by devising inno­v­a­tive solutions for mast climber access, paint selection and sealant repairs.

President-Restoration Division

Outcomes

All preservation techniques and materials were accepted by the State Historic Preservation Office, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and General Services Administration. Outside architects conducted independent peer reviews of the work to study the visual effects of installing blast resistant film on windows from the exterior. We continually worked with tenant and floor representatives to address and alleviate their concerns about work disruption. Ultimately, this project was successful because GSA and Berglund worked together to forge a common goal at the onset of the project.

Berglund’s team found a paint solution that best achieved a com­pro­mise between two competing major project goals: longevity and his­tor­i­cal accuracy.