WALF members organize tours designed to deepen appreciation for both historic and contemporary Chicago architecture. Tours frequently feature buildings under construction or recently completed, led by architects involved in the project.

Tours cost $35 for non-members, $25 for members, and $15 for students.

Cook County Hospital
1835 W Harrison St, Chicago, Illinois, 60612

Tour: December 2nd at 11:00am

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill have transformed the historic Beaux-Arts Cook County Hospital in Chicago. Designed to help anchor the neighborhood’s resurgence, the project team worked to preserve, restore, and adapt the former hospital building as the first phase of a proposed $1 billion redevelopment plan. The proposal aims to revitalizes the surrounding  Medical District and provide new amenities to the area.

Opened in 1916 and designed by Architect, Paul Gerhardt, the Cook County Hospital served its patients for 86 years until 2002.  The building is a designated Chicago Landmark. The building had fallen into a severe state of disrepair and was threatened with demolition. Over 342,000 square feet, the Cook County Hospital has instead transformed into a hotel, food hall, medical office and community spaces.

Restoration work focused first on repairing the neoclassical-style exterior, which involved the replacement of more than 4,500 pieces of terra cotta on the façade. Inside, SOM and interior design practice KOO restored red terrazzo flooring and ornate Beaux-Arts molding, while also selecting contemporary artwork, lighting, and finishes.

“We didn’t just want to preserve the old Cook County Hospital – we wanted to bring it back to its former glory, from the facade to the original Beaux-Arts masonry detailing and terra cotta ornamentation,” explains Brian Lee, SOM Consulting Partner. “The restored historic volume and finishes in the main lobby bring the original grand entrance back to life, establishing a new entry point for the community.”

As SOM outlines, County Hospital was where the first blood bank was created in the United States, and the hospital was known as “Chicago’s Ellis Island” for its treatment of poor communities and immigrants to the city. A new museum space will showcase the role the hospital played for the city and in the field of medicine.  SOM led a design-build collaboration for general contractor Walsh Construction, with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates and interior designers KOO.
Information from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

RSVP Here for our Cook County Hospital Tour by November 27th! Fill out the form below & Make your ticket payment through the PayPal Donation button or at the event.

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All money received for unused reservations will be donated to the WALF Scholarships.

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Previous Tour Oct. 2022 – Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at the Illinois Institute of Technology (3137 S. Federal St. Chicago, IL 60616)

Photos from Previous Tours

Our tours range from historical to contemporary. Six to seven tours are typically scheduled every year. Some previous locations have included:

Lane Tech Murals

Commonwealth Promenade Apartments

Millennium Park Walking Tour

Chicago Cultural Center

Heritage Condos

Garland Court Construction

Bronzeville Bus Tour

Brad Lynch Residence

Krause Music Store

Palmolive Building Renovation

Skybridge Condos

Loyola University Art Museum

Prairie Avenue District: Marshall Field Jr. House/Condo Conversion

Orozco School Mosaics & National Museum of Mexican Art

Vietnam Veterans’ Art Museum

Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago

B’hai Temple

Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio

Rooftop Garden at Chicago City Hall

Crab Tree Farms

BPAPS Hindu Temple

Harrison Conference Center

St. James Chapel at Quigley Seminary