The 601W Companies
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects
Ferrara Candy Company
Federal Home Loan Bank
The Old Post Office in Chicago, Illinois has been redeveloped by The 601W Companies and Gensler. The rehabilitated property now operates as offices, retail, and event spaces. MHA Chicago consulted on federal historic tax credits for the $800 million project.
Nine stories tall, three city blocks long, and one block wide, the “groundscraper” is the largest adaptive reuse project in the nation. If stood on its end, the building would be 64 stories tall. The rehabilitation effort tasked project partners with redevelopment of 2.8 million square feet. With 19-foot ceilings, 14-foot windows, 80,000 square feet of amenities, and a capacity for 12,000 to 14,000 workers, already signed-on tenants include Uber, Walgreens, Ferrara Candy Company, HomeChef, and Cboe.
Designed by famed Chicago architecture firm, Graham, Anderson, Probst & While, the Art Deco post office with classical accents was originally completed in 1921. The property was expanded in 1932 due to increasing postal demands and the rising popularity of the mail-order industry. The Chicago Main Post Office acted as the nation’s critical distribution center for many mail-order catalogs including those of Chicago-based Montgomery Ward and Sears. Utilitarian and functional, the property was built alongside the Chicago River, above a Chicago rail yard, and with room for a later roadway (the Congress Expressway, now the Eisenhower Expressway, was later built underneath the building in the 1950s).
In 1997, the USPS relocated to a new, nearby facility with more up-to-date technology. The move marked the beginning of the Old Post Office’s two decades of vacancy. In 2016, The 601W Companies purchased the property.
Every effort was taken to retain original windows, lobbies, scales, mail chutes, conveyors, the Postmaster-General's suite, corridors, mosaic tile floors, and plaster ceilings. Restoration work included work on the building’s limestone facade, the main lobby’s floor-to-ceiling marble, gold mosaic tiles, and brass grilles. Around 2,200 windows received new glazing; their original steel framing was replaced with aluminum. And the main lobby’s iconic 6-foot-long 1920s pendant lanterns were newly fitted with LEDs.
The rehabilitation of the property also included the addition of new electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roofing, and flooring systems in order to meet modern life-safety standards. The project also earned LEED Gold Core & Shell certification.
The Old Post Office’s amenities include a conference center, an 18,000 square foot fitness center named “Boxcar,” a multi-function work and event space named “The Library,” and multiple bars (The Telegram Lounge is equipped with a bocce ball lane and billiards). Best of all, however, may be the widely celebrated “Meadow,” or the landscaped rooftop with a bistro and bar area, basketball court, paddle ball courts, and running track. The 3.5 acre terrace was designed by Hoerr Schaudt, a team of landscape architects who are also reimagining the rooftop of another MHA project - Houston’s former Barbara Jordan US Post Office, now POST Houston by Lovett Commercial.
- AIA Chicago | 2020 Design Excellence Awards - Divine Detail Award & Interior Architecture Award
- Building Design + Construction | 2020 Reconstruction Award - Platinum Winner
- Chicago Building Congress | 2020 Merit Award for Renovation & Adaptive Reuse Over $15M
- Commission on Chicago Landmarks | 2021 Preservation Excellence Award
- Engineering News-Record Midwest | 2020 Award for Merit for Renovation/Restoration
- Green Roofs for Healthy Cities | 2021 Award of Excellence – Extensive Commercial / Industrial / Institutional
- Interior Design Magazine | Best of Year Awards 2020 Honoree - Commercial Lobby & Amenity Space
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