Goose Island Factory Gets Green Rehab


The colorful history of the 42,700-square-foot building at 1071 W. Division Street in Chicago begins in 1905, when the Horween Leather Company tannery moved in and started making razor strops (sharpeners) out of horse hide. In 1927, the Burhop Paper Company took over the building, churning out tons of boxes and paper, and endless rolls of twine. In its heyday, it anchored a bustling complex in the heart of the industrial area known as Goose Island. There Burhop workers would manufacture and store packaging supplies, load them onto freight trains that pulled up just south of the factory, and ship them out to waiting customers. This four-story brick structure was built to last. In fact, during World War II, its basement doubled as a bomb shelter. When the company shut down its Division Street operations in 2013, the last of the remaining survival kits were finally cleaned out.

Now the aging L-shaped factory has been granted new life. Fresh from a top-to-bottom modernization, it is about to house Boelter Companies’ food service showroom and offices. During the renovation, which included demolishing the eastern half of the fourth floor and a first floor addition, care was taken to recycle or reuse original wood, concrete, and brick. Most of the century-old Douglas fir beams and maple floorboards remain in place.

Blended with the old are new materials like ceiling tiles made of bamboo, a rapidly renewable wood. The rehab is replete with water- and energy-saving features, from the permeable paver parking lot where the rail spur used to be, to the white, superinsulated roof deck, and a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) ventilation system. The southern-facing windows, enlarged to allow in maximum sunlight, now have panes that consist of argon gas sandwiched between layers of glass. The new space, designed by SKJN Architekten, is a candidate for LEED gold certification.

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