The United States Custom House is an 11-story reinforced concrete, limestone and granite office building that was originally constructed between 1932 and 1939. The General Services Administration awarded Berglund a design-build contract to restore the building's facade following the guidelines set forth in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. We assembled a project team that achieved GSA’s vision of restoring the Custom House’s magnificence, maintaining the integrity of the original design and increasing the structure’s life an additional 25 years.
The work scope centered on removing and resetting 75 percent of the limestone panels on the building. Berglund tradespeople took great care to ensure that the panels that were reusable were undamaged during removal. Of the 5,537 panels that were removed for resetting, we only had to replace 10 percent of them, which preserved the historic character of the building. Once we dismantled the limestone cladding, we removed the corroded shelf angles and replaced them with stainless steel shelf supports. The original limestone was retained and reused. If the original stone was too deteriorated to be reused, we installed matching Indiana Limestone.
The integration of 5,606 stainless steel shelf support angles extended the life of the building curtain wall system by an estimated 25 years. Original architectural features of the building were retained throughout the project’s duration. The parapet level contains beautiful bas-relief carved stone details, all of which we were able to preserve and reuse as a result of careful material handling by our skilled craftspeople.
In addition to General Service Administration employees, the building had business tenants, a daycare facility and laboratory areas. By posting progress boards, distributing newsletters and working with the building management, we kept everyone informed and minimized disruptions. We are proud that this project had no loss time accidents.
The parapet level contains beautiful bas-relief carved stone details, all of which we were able to preserve and reuse as a result of careful material handling by our skilled craftspeople.
The work scope submitted by Berglund for this project has been accepted by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which qualifies the U.S. Custom House for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
This project demonstrated that preservation and re-use of building materials is possible through investigation, perseverance and innovative means and methods.