Named a Chicago landmark in 2002, Chicago Union Station was designed by noted architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and completed in 1925. The station’s ornate Beaux-Arts main waiting room, the “Great Hall,” is one of the United States’ most historic and memorable public spaces with its 219-foot-long vaulted skylight and connecting lobbies and stairwells.

Over the years, extensive deterioration and leaks developed in the original skylight, and plasterwork showed signs of decay. The project team was hired to investigate and assess the existing conditions, and design and construct a new watertight skylight over the original system. The work also involved fully restoring deteriorated finishes.

While the restoration work was taking place on the upper portions of the Great Hall and skylight, approximately 130,000 Metra and Amtrak daily commuters passed through the grand public space directly below. To avoid creating obstacles and provide a safe environment for the public, a suspended work platform was hung from the skylight’s structural steel beams, with no scaffolding taking up valuable space on the floor.

At the completion of the full 42-month project, the existing skylight was re-glazed, a new high-performance skylight was added, and plaster, ornamental painting and historic lighting were restored for the continuing stewardship of the station for many years to come.


  • Architects: Goettsch Partners

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

  • Lead Architects: Goettsch Partners

  • Area: 600000.0 m2

  • Project Year: 2019

  • Photographs: Tom Harris

  • Manufacturers: Oldcastle APG, The Lighting Quotient, Luminii