Before blueprinting renovations to the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building, including the introduction of several sustainable systems into the 39-year-old tower, project team members referenced another set of blueprints, those of the original architect, Modernist pioneer Mies van der Rohe.

Kluczynski's floor-to-floor repetition and open, flexible plans proved ready-made for renovations, and team members used van der Rohe's approach to scale, layout, materials and lighting to guide their efforts.

Particular attention was paid to washrooms, which were gutted and rebuilt with locally sourced Miesian materials low in volatile organic compounds. The washrooms were also equipped with low-flow fixtures that annually conserve 3 million gallons of water.

By introducing elements ranging from variable-flow pumping systems to occupancy-controlled lighting, the team reduced the tower's annual energy use by 30% below baseline. Among other elements, engineers replaced a perimeter fan-coil system with electronically controlled variable-speed fan-blower motors, among the most energy efficient on the market.

Plans required that portions of existing porcelain tile and all existing porcelain fixtures be recycled into the project. In all, about 102,000 lb of the material were diverted from the building for recycling and reuse, with more than 57,000 sq ft of it incorporated into new washroom floors and wet walls. Like other finishes, the tile was recycled and fabricated locally.

The building remained fully occupied throughout renovations, prompting the contractor to coordinate replacement of air-handling units and fan coils so that either the new or existing system provided consistent temperature control.

To accommodate the day-to-day build-out requirements, coordination among team members, the building management team and occupants was key.

Upon completion, the tower received LEED-Gold certification.

John C. Kluczynski Federal Building, Chicago

Key Players

Owner U.S. General Services Administration, Chicago

GC Pepper Construction, Chicago

Designer Cannon Design, Chicago