Historic Main to Rise Again

By Marcia Faye
Main Building

Building for the Future - Video Extra

Listen to University Archivist Ralph Pugh talk about some memorable events in the history of Main Building in this IIT Magazine Video Extra.

Main Building—the former principal classroom facility of Armour Institute—has been vacant since 2012, when the last university offices it housed were relocated to other Mies Campus spaces. Five larger-than-life figures, however, continue to keep vigil with the 123-year-old structure as the rising sun shines bright on their ghostly glass faces and the setting sun reflects the jewel tones of the foliage that frames them. Comprising the Philip Danforth Armour Memorial windows, the female figures represent heat, light, gravity, and motion while the lone male represents success.

The three-paneled stained-glass piece, designed by Louis Tiffany associate Edwin P. Sperry, was created in memory of benefactor Philip Danforth Armour’s youngest of two sons, who died at age 31. Set into a lintel of Carrara marble on the front landing between the first and second floors of Main, the windows will soon win over a new legion of admirers—urban dwellers. Illinois Tech is partnering with MCM Company Inc. to restore and convert Main Building into apartments. Based in Cleveland, MCM specializes in preservation and adaptive historic re-use projects. In the early planning stages, the project is awaiting city zoning approval, says Bruce Watts, Illinois Tech vice president for facilities and public safety.

“This will be a vibrant improvement to our campus, further establishing the university and its tech park as a growth engine on Chicago’s South Side and spurring other positive development in the Bronzeville community,” he notes.

Editor’s Note: Please share your memories of Main Building by sending a note to iitmagazine@iit.edu. We may edit your submission for content and clarity.

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IIT Magazine Video Extra: Listen to University Archivist Ralph Pugh talk about the history of Main Building and see some historic photos of the building over the years.  

MCM Company Inc.: mcmcompanyinc.com/index120615.php