A New Vibe for the Old Colony Building

Pappageorge Haymes Partners has refashioned this classic Chicago landmark into a vibrant student apartment center. Together with MCJ Development and CA Ventures, the Old Colony Building has been repurposed to appeal to attendees of Illinois’ largest concentration of urban college campuses. Carefully interweaving a wealth of surviving historic components with new uses, the completed facility sets a new standard for housing.

137 apartments have been accommodated in the 17-story building whose distinctive cream colored terra cotta bays and curving glass windows afford panoramic views of Chicago's Loop. Historic glass offices, mosaics, marble wainscoting, plaster arches, quarter sawn oak trim and wood floors have all been repaired and reused through-out. Keith Giles notes that, “The restoration of the original wood floors distinguishes this project from others in the market and warms the environment like no other material can.” The fully furnished apartments provide an equally robust array of contemporary finishes and features including everything from flat screens and wi-fi to laundry and tutors. “The finishes and furnishings were selected to be a colorful, youthful counterpoint to the historic building.” according to JJ Smith of CA Ventures. Common amenity elements include a roof top terrace and event room, BBQ grilles, fully equipped fitness center, "Collaborate" center and business office. Clearly not your father's or mother's dormitory.

In 1893, Holabird and Roche won the commission for the innovative building that was the first to use a portal braced skeletal frame also following the 'Chicago Construction' method of carrying a masonry skin. The oversized double hung windows, high ceilings and a narrow foot print that made for well lit, well ventilated offices also served to make for the ideal apartment conversion. As a designated Chicago Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, compliance with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation allowed the project to receive a $10M tax credit. Restoration of the facade, of the coffered scagliola ceiling, preservation of the historic corridors, plaster finishes and glass office partitions were among the requirements that became distinguishing aesthetic characteristics. The renovation included reopening the closed Van Buren entrance and restoring the two-story limestone columns and carvings. Missing storefronts are being restored to their original condition with metal replica castings. The project is named the “ARC” (arcatoldcolony.com) and opened its doors to residents in August.

Project profile

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