The team at Harboe Architects has restored many of Chicago’s most famous structures, including buildings by Louis Sullivan, Holabird and Roche, Mies van der Rohe, and long-time resident of Chicago, Frank Lloyd Wright. The small but accomplished firm welcomed me this summer to participate in projects ranging from Mies’s Crown Hall to Wight’s Unity temple. While working on the Crown Hall project, I had the opportunity to further develop my AutoCAD skills by recreating Mies’s original drawings.  The intention is to restore the ceiling as closely as possible to Mies’s original perfect grid.

Unity Temple is currently wrapped in plastic to prevent debris from dropping onto the street and the interior is mostly empty and stripped. Visiting this construction site was a wonderful opportunity to see restoration work in action. I look forward to visiting again post-restoration to see the transformation. Along with one of my coworkers, I inventoried a large collection of objects that were amassed by Unity Temple’s congregation over the years. This collection included all of the original cabinets from the kitchen, more than 70 globes of various sizes that cover all of the lights in the temple, many pieces of miscellaneous trim, and many concrete samples. Some of my favorite objects we found were two “rheostats,” large adjustable resistors for an electric circuit.

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Globes from Unity Temple
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Old rheostat from Unity Temple archive

My main project this summer was decorating the office with images of buildings which the firm has worked on. This involved hunting down high-quality historic images and matching them with corresponding images of the sites after restoration. They will be hanging in the office soon for visitors to enjoy and for the staff to be proud of. Here are a few of my favorite pairs:

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The Marquette Building (140 South Dearborn Street), by Holabird & Roche
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Marquette today; the office of Harboe Architects is on the third floor
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Sullivan Center, formerly Carson Pirie Scott Building (1 South State Street), by Louis Sullivan
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Sullivan Center today; Target occupies the first two floors, behind the beautifully restored ironwork
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The Rookery lobby (209 South LaSalle Street), originally by Burnham & Root, redone by Frank Lloyd Wright
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The Rookery lobby today

Being in Chicago in the summer has been one of the best parts of this internship. Although I am a born and bred New Yorker, I very much admire how beautiful Chicago is and the wealth of amazing architecture it contains. I look forward to the rest of my year here as well, although I will miss my HP colleagues. I wish them the best of luck!

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