Award of Excellence: Historic Category
University of St. Mary of the Lake Mall Area Repairs
Submitted by Zera Construction Company, Inc.
University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
American Hydrotech, Inc.
Initially chartered in 1844, the University of St. Mary of the Lake is the oldest institution of higher education in the Chicago area. St. Mary’s occupies more than 600 acres (2.43 square kilometers) and features a central mall that overlooks St. Mary’s Lake. The mall area was designed and built in the 1920s by Joseph W. McCarthy, an apprentice of legendary Chicago planner and architect Daniel Burnham and includes a boathouse, a viaduct, two lake piers, a belvedere, the tomb of First Lieutenant Edward Hines, and concrete retaining walls that extend along the lake. With over 80 years of service, extensive deterioration was identified throughout the concrete and masonry structures. Because of its size, complexity, and timeline, the project team worked closely throughout the project, particularly during its most difficult aspects, such as: pouring concrete “upside down” within the viaduct over winter; restoring all original decorative elements with modern material; using environmentally friendly construction practices; and working over water.
The project team also discovered that many more repairs needed to be made to the building due to a lack of waterproofing. While this would normally significantly increase a project’s cost, the team collaborated to save the property owner $90,000 overall. This effort allowed the property owner to have additional work completed, including renovations to the center mall, which included structural restoration and waterproofing.
The restoration work began in July 2008 and was completed in September 2009. The project was completed on schedule, even though many unforeseen repairs were needed. The successful completion of this project was due to a close relationship between the structural engineering firm, the concrete restoration contractor, the general contractor, the masonry contractor, and the property owner.