Gold Coast Galleria

Western Specialty Contractors – Chicago Masonry Branch recently completed facade repairs to the Gold Coast Galleria Condominiums in Downtown Chicago, Illinois. The 34-story, residential building is constructed of exposed painted concrete slabs, shear walls, columns, balconies and an aluminum and glass window wall system. Constructed in 1991, the building's facade was showing signs of distress due to normal aging of sealants and isolated concrete distress.


Western's scope of work included: removal and replacement of unsound concrete; 100% removal and replacement of concrete-to-metal sealants; 100% removal and replacement of window glazing; rout and seal of hairline concrete cracks; installation of a new balcony coating membrane; and application of an architectural coating to all exposed concrete.


Western crews were able to access the facade for repairs by assembling seven swing stages with weights and beams around the entire exterior of the building. A system of tarps and chutes was set up below work areas to collect falling demolition debris and protect pedestrians below.


In total, Western crews applied approximately 400 square feet of an architectural coating to recoat the concrete facade surfaces.


The project was completed within nine months.



Aon Center

When it was completed in 1974, the Aon Center, then known as the Standard Oil Building, was the tallest structure in Chicago. It’s 83 floors rise to 1,183 feet. In 1985, the building was renamed the Amoco Tower and in 1999 it became the Aon Center.

The building was originally clad in thin carrara marble. The marble suffered from a problem called thermal hysteresis or permanent warping. It had to be replaced in 1991. Mount Airy White granite was used for the exterior cladding and the building was caulked at that time with a urethane sealant. After 20 years, the sealant had reached its life expectancy and had to be replaced.

Western was the successful bidder for the sealant replacement. The scope of work involved the 100% replacement of the exterior caulk joints at all granite and window joint perimeters. Silicone sealants were chosen because of their longer life.

The Western crew utilized the building’s house rig to access the tower’s exterior and manlifts for the third floor and lower portions of the building. A pipe scaffold system was used on the lower plaza level.

The project began in the summer of 2011 and was completed in 2013.

1751 & 1771 Diehl Road

The integrally colored concrete entrances at the 1751 & 1771 Diehl Road buildings were placed earlier this year. After the concrete cured, the color did not match the buildings. The owner, Keystone Property Group thought that they would have to replace the concrete with a color that would be more compatible. This would have been a costly and time consuming process.

Western was brought in by Butterfield Color to see what could be done to alleviate the problem. After meeting with Brian Lauck, the regional director for Keystone, Western was able to develop an alternative to removing and replacing the concrete.

First, the entire entrance way was power washed to remove dirt and grime. A pattern was chosen to compliment the building and make the entrance in two different colors of Clearguard color gloss sealer; Autumn Oak and Walnut. The 8,000 square foot project was completed in a week.

Keystone was pleased with the outcome and received numerous compliments from the tenants. The work has lead to several more projects for Western.


American Girl Place

Englewood Construction completed the build-out of the American Girl Place in Water Tower Place in 2008. Plans for the new flag ship stone called for the removal of 20 existing precast panels on the second floor to make way for a curtain wall in the proposed cafe area of the building. Each of these panels weighed 4,500 lbs. Western Specialty Contractors' Chicago branch was hired by Englewood as requested by Water Tower Place, to complete the removal and installation of the new curtain wall.

Western also installed mounting plates for the numerous large awnings that were placed on the building’s exterior. The building is clad in marble. The mounting plates had to be fabricated to match the existing cladding.

What began as a new, yet routine scope of work resulted in a design/build project. Western employed various trades and consultants to assist in the design and logistics and its work revolved around the schedule of all the subcontractors.

The project’s successful end result came from a collaboration of all involved and the numerous hours in the design of the system. The work was completed in time for the fall opening of the store.


Metropolitan Tower

The Metropolitan Tower is currently undergoing a massive face-lift. The old steel structure and limestone clad structure is being converted from a representative of a roaring 20’s office building to a new modern up-scale condominium on the beautiful Magnificent Mile. The owner, Metropolitan Properties of Chicago wanted to equally address the facade during the major conversion and put a nice polish to this historic jewel.

Western Specialty Contractors was chosen to perform the necessary repairs as designed by Thornton Tomasetti. Western provided 100% access to the engineers in order to inspect nearly 200,000 square feet of the building’s facade by utilizing swing-stages. It took approximately 35 drops to access this area with swing-stages ranging from 20’ to 40’ in length. Tomasetti would inspect the drop and mark repairs needed; Western would follow up and perform the repairs. The largest challenges in this project were to safely maneuver the swingstages around this historic building. The large water-tables posed awkward obstacles during vertical travel. Also, enormous architectural columnade construction made it very difficult to reach the building from the swing-stages. Western developed safe and efficient ways to provide access and perform the necessary repairs.

The majority of Western’s work consisted of grinding out old caulk at the head joints of the limestone and replacing it with mortar, approximately 40,000 linear feet. Other work included:

  • Routing and sealing all skyward facing limestone joints
  • Routing and sealing cracks in limestone
  • Limestone patching
  • Installation of epoxy stabilization pins
  • Rebuilding of limestone
  • Limestone Dutchman
  • Shelf angle restoration
  • Brick rebuilding
  • Brick parapet rebuilding
  • Brick tuck pointing
  • Metal panel restoration

401 East Ontario

Western completed the first full exterior restoration project for this 50-story condominium constructed in 1989. Working under the direction of WJE’s downtown office, Western’s scope of work including the following:

  • Apply 200,000 square feet of an architectural concrete coating
  • Remove and replace 150,000 lineal feet of exterior vertical caulking
  • Remove and replace 500 square feet of expansion joint
  • Apply 40,000 square feet of urethane traffic coating
  • Remove and replace 1,000 lineal feet of stainless steel copings
  • EIFS repairs and vertical concrete repairs
  • Shelf angle restoration

To complete the project on time, Western utilized eight suspended scaffolds on the building. Through the help of all involved; project deadlines and routine obstacles were overcome to provide a water tight building, delivered with quality workmanship and no lost time injuries.