Ceramic Industry

Chicago’s Monroe Building Uses Rookwood Tiles

May 10, 2012

The Rookwood Pottery Co. recently announced that the Monroe Building, the historic Chicago tower that the company has been involved in restoring, has received a recognition trophy for historic restoration in the first Coverings Installation & Design Awards. The award was given April 19 in Orlando, Fla.

The Coverings Installation & Design Awards judges reportedly recognized the installation and design teams of the Monroe Building for their high degree of craftsmanship and compelling results. Chicago-based Holabird & Root was the project designer.

The 100-year-old Romanesque Monroe Building, which houses the Pritzker Military Library, will celebrate its restoration in July. This work includes the complete recondition and replacement of thousands of original Rookwood tiles along the walls and ceilings throughout the building. In fact, the interior’s vaulted lobby is graced by one of the largest commercial installations of Rookwood tile in the country.

Rookwood’s artists worked meticulously to restore the tiles originally handcrafted by their long-ago counterparts in 1911. They invested years in the project, relying on original construction documents, early photographs, a good dose of chemistry and historic material retrieved from the site.

“Since we had to mimic age progression to match 100-year-old tiles, this project took extensive research and testing,” said Jim Robinson, artist and glaze chemist for Rookwood Pottery. “We used an extraordinarily wear-resistant floor tile glaze and sophisticated color variation to create a visually resonant installation. For the wall tiles, we engineered a crackle pattern customized to match that of the original tiles and used stains to enhance the craze-line patterns.”

For additional information, visit www.rookwood.com.