Landmarks Illinois, a statewide nonprofit agency that advocates for the protection of historic and architecturally significant properties, has taken a shine to how Amtrak has shined up a long-closed-off portion of Chicago Union Station. On Nov. 30, 2016, the organization held a reception in the station’s former women’s lounge to present Amtrak with its 2016 Real Estate and Building Industries Council (RBIC) Award, which honors a recently redeveloped building or place and the project team responsible for the transformation.
The ceremony, held in what’s now called the Burlington Room, celebrated the grand opening of the 3,900-square-foot event space off of the Main Hall. It had been closed for decades until its recent transformation. Restoration work included repairs to water damage, deteriorating plasterwork, column capitals and colorful murals, along with installation of heating, air conditioning and modern audio-visual equipment for events. Lighting fixtures were restored or recreated.
“Amtrak’s extensive restoration work in the Burlington Room and throughout Union Station is remarkable,” said Landmarks Illinois President and CEO Bonnie McDonald. “Through its financial reinvestment, and hiring top-notch designers, contractors and craftspeople, Amtrak has made it possible for people to wonder again at the grandeur and beauty of our iconic Chicago train station.”
Unveiling of the Burlington Room follows the opening of the Legacy Club, a comfortable lounge accessible to Amtrak and commuter customers and the general public, as well as the new Metropolitan Lounge. Since 2010, Amtrak has invested nearly $60 million in the station to outfit regional offices, reinstitute air conditioning in the Great Hall and surrounding spaces and make façade repairs, among other projects.
“Our goal is to make the station a friendlier place to visit and this award helps to acknowledge those efforts,” said Mark Murphy, Amtrak Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Long Distance Business Line, as he accepted the honor.