Weiboldt Hall at Northwestern UniversityNorthwestern University’s Chicago campus features the historic Wieboldt Hall, constructed in 1926 to hold the university’s School of Commerce. The building’s construction was funded by Anna and William Wieboldt, German immigrants and self-made retail magnates who believed “the most effective form of charity is developing self-supporting men and women.” Today, Wieboldt Hall houses programs for the Kellogg School of Management.

When this historic building underwent a massive interior renovation, Salas O’Brien served as the engineering consultant.

Historical Renovation Challenges

HVAC Systems

The existing building used localized HVAC systems scattered throughout the building, so our team needed to integrate centralized systems that could support the entire building. We built a new mechanical penthouse on the roof to house a new central air handler and designed the penthouse to match the existing building’s historic façade.

We also added a new central hot water heating system that utilized campus steam to provide heat for the entire building.

MEP Systems

The university was installing a new elevator inside the building, so we needed to remove or relocate all the current MEP utilities. Since the existing structure was not designed to accommodate air conditioning ductwork, our team had to think creatively to find a solution that wouldn’t drastically change the building’s original architecture.

Rising to the challenge, our team crafted a detailed plan that would allow us to maintain the high ceiling heights in the classrooms, and we routed all of the new infrastructure (ductwork, heating/cooling piping, electrical feeders, and plumbing risers) up and down the building through the building’s abandoned boiler stack shaft.

We also added energy-efficient lighting fixtures with programmable dimming and scene control to all the classrooms and provided new standpipes and sprinkler distribution throughout the building to meet current codes.

Renovation Results

Our team was able to preserve the building’s original architecture while still updating its MEP systems and infrastructure to meet modern demands. With its many sustainable features that reduce energy use, water consumption, and waste, this renovated building earned LEED Gold certification. Wieboldt Hall was Northwestern University’s first campus building to receive LEED Gold status.