Isaac G. Ettleson Building, Facade Evaluation and Terra Cotta Reuse Study

Chicago, IL

The Eagle Building, as it is commonly known, was designed by Harry Hale Waterman and constructed in 1911 as the Hamilton State Bank, an Orange Rated historic building identified in the City of Chicago Historic Resource Survey. This two-story corner commercial building was ornamented with cast iron window surrounds and white terra cotta cladding featuring projecting eagle figures at the piers and cornice that impart its nickname. Each eagle is composed of 10 unique terra cotta pieces.

Purchased for redevelopment, the owner received immediate pushback from the city on its plans to dismantle the façade and reinstall it on a new, significantly larger structural frame. To gain City approval, the owner needed to provide significate justification that the structure was insufficient for rehabilitation. AltusWorks was engaged to evaluate the integrity of the terra cotta elements and opine on the feasibility of dismantling, restoring and reinstalling the terra cotta on a new structural frame. Ultimately the owner received approval and drastically transformed the simple corner retail and office structure into a large mixed-use complex by adding a new block-wide seven-story residential tower adorned by the historic terra cotta eagles and the terra cotta surround.

Eagle Building, before rehabilitation 

Eagle Building, decorative terra cotta restored and reinstalled.

Eagle Building, restored terra cotta surround.

Eagle Building, terra cotta detailing.