After careful conservation of its exterior façade, the Farwell Building on Michigan Avenue at 118 East Erie St. takes on new life when The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Chicago, Magnificent Mile, are unveiled on April 20.
The Residences opens its doors with “Simply Magnificent: A Showcase of Homes,” an interior design showcase featuring five designed ultra-luxury homes created by celebrity designers from Chicago, London and Spain. Open to the public for tours April 20 through May 13. All Showcase proceeds benefit The Art Institute of Chicago.
Designed by architect Philip B. Maher and built in 1927, the Farwell Building was landmarked by the City of Chicago in 2004. The iconic structure was central to the avenue’s earliest period of development when it gained the title of “Magnificent Mile.” With its French-inspired Classical and Art Deco characteristics, the limestone-clad edifice features a distinctive mansard roof, wrought iron balconies and finely carved details.
Arthur Farwell, a prominent Chicago business owner, was committed to creating a distinguished building that would set the standard on Michigan Avenue. The 11-story high-rise was built during Art Deco’s burgeoning period in the late 1920s. Its “skyscraper” verticality, clean lines and smooth Indiana limestone surfaces, display the modern sensibilities of its day.
Architect Philip Maher was also strongly influenced by Daniel Burnham’s “Chicago Plan” and the desire to transform the gritty, turn-of-the-century Chicago into a more elegant “Paris on the Prairie.” Therefore, Classical Revival elements, most notably the building’s distinct mansard roof, can also be seen. The sum result is an eclectic jewel.
By design, the architecture of The Residences draws from the Farwell Building’s Classical and Art Deco characteristics and deftly incorporates the historic building’s distinct characteristics into the new structure’s elegant style.
A documentary film on the restoration of the Farwell Building titled “The Living Landmark” will premiere at the Showcase. Developed by filmmaker Margo Dahmani, the documentary short is produced by Kinema Group in Chicago and Kinari Design in London. Featuring viewpoints from preservationists, architects, developers and engineers, the film tells the story of how a struggle to preserve one of Chicago’s important landmarks was resolved by a visionary team.
To preserve the Farwell Building façade, its exterior was dismantled piece by piece, catalogued, shipped, warehoused, repaired, and reassembled onto the façade of the newly-built structure. Prism Development Co. worked with a historic architectural consultant to plan and assess the building’s in-situ condition, plan the dismantlement, and oversee the restoration process.
“The Farwell Building represents ‘sustainability’ beyond the word that is bandied about today because it sustains not only materials, it preserves its urban fabric to the past and community,” said Hans Kiefer of KGH-Kellermeyer Godfryt Hart P.C.
As the façade was dismantled, four contractor teams worked in tandem like a well-choreographed ballet. The process received oversight from two inspecting architects, including one representing the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. An architectural conservator sculptor recreated the 14 bas relief panels that flank the top of the building along with other newly-cast decorative elements. A newly-engineered strongback system was attached to the Farwell Building in order to securely re-attach the refurbished limestone panels. The metal decorative panels have been repaired and repainted to match the original historic black paint discovered through meticulous sampling and testing of the original panel paint.
Simply Magnificent Showcase is hosted by Prism Development Company in partnership with Traditional Home magazine. For more information and tickets, visit online at www.simplymagnificentshowcase.com.
Downtown Chicago’s only residential high-rise under construction, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Chicago, Magnificent Mile, is slated for delivery in May 2012. Call (312) 242-5980 for more information or to schedule a private showing.