Title Marquette Building
Work Completed Cornice Restoration
Date Completed 2003
Client MacArthur Foundation
Location Chicago, Illinois
Architect of Record McClier

Following an extensive design and fabrication process that involved the development of full scale models,  the GFRC cornice panels were completed and were installed in place on the building. The installation process involved the hoisting of the cornice units into position, leveling and securing the units to a receiving frame on the building.  After the units were secured, a modified bitumen roof was installed over the cornice units. Punched openings through the space between the cornice brackets provide the windows for new conference rooms. Following the same process outlined above, a smaller cornice was constructed and installed on the single bay addition to the west.  The cornice reconstruction project was completed in 2003.

marquette building

Photos by James Caulfield

Project Information

The Marquette Building was originally designed by Holabird and Roche and completed in 1895. The seventeen story building was designed to resemble a stately Italian Renaissance Palazzo, although much taller. The rich brown terra cotta was meant to look like heavy cut stone and the large protruding cornice was a critical element that gave a crowning terminus to the verticality of the façade. Due to deterioration of the terra cotta, the original cornice was removed from the building ca. 1950. In 2002, the MacArthur Foundation embarked on a project to utilize attic space on the 17th floor, and an opportunity presented itself to reconstruct the cornice and return the entire façade to its original appearance. Harboe Architects’ personnel, then with McClier, were the lead restoration architects for the reconstruction of the cornice. The original cornice was terra cotta; however, due to the cost and the weight of terra cotta, the new replicated cornice was constructed of glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels. Historic photographs and drawings were consulted in order to replicate the original design of the cornice.