University of Chicago Restores Mies van der Rohe Building

Mies van der Rohe's 1965 School of Social Service Administration Building at the University of Chicago

Credit: Krueck and Sexton Architects

One of Mies van der Rohe's iconic academic buildings got a much-needed restoration last summer.

The University of Chicago announced last month that it had reopened the School of Social Service Administration Building, completed in 1965. In just 15 weeks, workers installed new glass windows, stripped lead-based paint, and applied new black paint to the exterior.  

"In some areas we were astounded by the amount of corrosion and pitting of the steel surfaces," says Rico Cedro, associate principal at Chicago-based Krueck and Sexton Architects, which oversaw the $3.4 million project. "We could literally see [water] bathtubbing inside the curtain wall."

The university considers the 80,000-square-foot building historic. One of van der Rohe's later works, it occupies a prominent position on campus near buildings by Eero Saarinen and Edward Durell Stone.

The project won't actually be completed until December, when workers will replace aluminum front doors installed in the 1980s. "They stick out as a sore thumb," Cedro says.

Krueck and Sexton Architects (the firm also restored van der Rohe's 1956 Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology), had hoped to restore the Social Service Administration's original sloped roof, but university officials decided to wait until the existing roof was due for replacement in five to 10 years, Cedro says. 

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Submitted by anonymies at: November 29, 2008
The technique of sloping a flat roof to fix leaks was very common for replacement of original tar and gravel roofs. Unfortunately, it requires an increase if the height of the roof edge, which alters the proportions, making the roof edge appear too heavy, even clunky. This building, along with thousands of modernist homes, really suffers from that. I really look forward to the correction of that problem when the current roof wears out. Modern roofing materials work quite well as completely flat surfaces, unharmed by puddles of standing water.