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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak: Chicago Union Station's Great Hall work underway

A construction worker prepared the Great Hall skylight for restoration.
Photo –


Amtrak has begun a $22 million project to restore and repair the Great Hall at Chicago's Union Station, the railroad announced yesterday.

The project will include repainting the hall in its original colors, which will be made brighter by a restored and protected skylight with improved lighting.

Completed in 1925, the Great Hall at Union Station was designed by Daniel Burnham and successor firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. The centerpiece of the Great Hall is a 219-foot-long skylight that soars 115 feet above the floor. Over the decades, it has deteriorated due to water damage and flaws within the original design, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

Goettsch Partners is the architect and Berglund Construction is the contractor for the restoration project.

The construction team is using a suspended working deck and swing stations in order to minimize disruption to passengers.

A crane erected on Clinton Street is being used to move materials through the building and above the Great Hall. The painting and plaster repairs have been divided into phases to further provide full customer access to the Great Hall during the repairs.

The team will construct an energy-efficient skylight above the historic skylight in order to maintain its historic appearance and overcome complications of an existing drainage system.

When finished, natural light into the Great Hall is expected to increase by about 50 percent by replacing the 2,052 pieces of glass in frames that had been made bigger over the years in a failed effort to prevent leaks in the skylight, Amtrak officials said.

Once the skylight and roof work has been completed, the historic skylight — along with water-damaged plaster and stone — will be restored.

Amtrak is paying for the project.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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