Landmarks Illinois and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation honored IIT University Technology Park’s Incubator South and Technology Business Center with a Preservation Award for Adaptive Use at the awards ceremony on October 27. The annual Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards ceremony recognizes individuals, organizations, projects and programs from across the state of Illinois, whose work demonstrates a commitment to excellence in historic preservation.
The Incubator South was originally designed as an industrial research and testing facility for railroad technology by Mies van der Rohe in 1944. The neighboring building – the new Technology Business Center – opened as a laboratory facility in 1959 and was designed by Schmidt, Garden, and Erikson. These connected buildings have been transformed to create a state of the art incubator facility for start ups. Due to material shortages, the original window systems of Incubator South were constructed of wood – an exception for the Mies buildings at IIT. A major part of this project was painstakingly restoring the wood windows and the two-story steel and glass enclosure surrounding an original Mies stair. Although the exterior of the Technology Business Center was restored to its original appearance, the interior has been dramatically altered to include a 4,000 square foot atrium, which sheds natural light into the offices and laboratories. The jury noted that “this sensitive rehabilitation is a great reinvention of an often misunderstood architectural style.”