Franklin and Van Buren District Cooling Plant

Chicago, Illinois (Loop)

AIA Chicago Distinguished Building (1999); Illinois Engineering Council Project of the Year (2000);
Chicago Athenaeum Distinguished Building (1998); Chicago Building Congress Award of Recognition (1998); Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute Regional Design Award (1998); Exhibition: New Chicago Architecture (1998); Metal Construction Association Merit Award (1997)

Located on a highly visible site adjacent to the Congress Expressway and the Chicago River, the 40,000 sf plant’s design is site-specific and expressive of function. Architecture critic Blair Kamin characterized Eckenhoff Saunders’ second plant for Exelon Thermal Technologies as a “potent architectural presence” and “civilized urban design.”

A curved green glass wall serves as a “bookend” to the graceful sweep of the 333 Wacker Drive building. The tank’s massive, cast-in-place buttressed concrete walls relate to the expressway piers nearby. A galvanized screen on the rooftop masking evaporative condensers takes its visual vocabulary from expressway signage structures. At night the building comes alive with views into the mechanical areas.