Saturday, February 21, 2015

325 N. Wells Street Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [325 N. Wells Street Building, Chicago (1912) L. Gustav Hallberg, architect; (1985) adaptive reuse, Booth Hansen Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architect L. Gustav Hallberg's warehouse for the Chase & Sanborn Coffee Company is just one of two former warehouse buildings still standing along the main branch of the Chicago River, which was once lined with brick storehouses from one end to the other. Constructed in 1912, Hallberg's building had a more refined appearance than many of its plain jane neighbors. Sitting on a broad limestone base, with wide window openings and splash of classical detailing, Chase & Sanborn's coffee building was just one of a number of reinforced factory and warehouse buildings in Hallberg's portfolio.

  [325 N. Wells Street Building, Chicago, 325 N. Wells Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Hallberg emigrated from Scandinavia in 1871, and joined Chicago's buregeoning Swedish immigrant population, just in time for the Great Fire. Not as well known today as some of his contemporaries, he was a prolific designer, drawing up plans and overseeing the construction of houses, industrial and commercial buildings all across the city, right up until his death in 1915 at the age of 71.  

 [325 N. Wells Street Building, Chicago, Helene Curtis Building, River North, Chicago  /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1985 architects Booth Hansen Associates redid the interior and added a 2-story glass penthouse to the top of Hallberg's 73-year-old building for Helene Curtis Industries, manufacturers of personal care products. The company had been making shampoo since the 1920s, and their executive offices were located in their manufacturing plant on the city's near northwest side. When young Ron Gidwitz took over as CEO of the company after his father Gerald, one of the founders, moved into the chairman's chair, the Gidwitz's decided to move downtown and into the former Chase & Sanborn warehouse, then known as the Exhibitor's Building. The new 2-floor penthouse contained the boardroom and executive offices, providing directors and company managers with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline. The makers of Suave shampoo, the country's top-selling brand, were purchased by Unilever in 1996 and the building was put up for auction in 2003.
Today the penthouse addition is owned by DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time) makers of modular office systems, while Kimball Office and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology fill out the remaining floors once filled with burlap bags of packed with coffee.

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