• PHOTO BY GREG MURPHEY
  • PHOTO BY GREG MURPHEY
  • PHOTO BY GREG MURPHEY

Restoring a rare piece of Chicago history, and a true public treasure, back to its original glory.

Chicago Cultural Center Preston Bradley Hall Tiffany Dome
City of Chicago Department of Fleet & Facility Management
Chicago, IL

The City of Chicago commissioned Wight & Company to oversee the restoration of the world’s largest Louis Comfort Tiffany art-glass dome, designed by Tiffany’s chief mosaicist, Jacob A. Holzer, in 1897. We oversaw the 7-month, $1.7 million construction project that included the cleaning, repair and/or replacement of more than 30,000 pieces of glass.

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Project Details

The Tiffany Dome was not a typical run-of-the-mill interior restoration; this was an opportunity to work on a rare piece of Chicago history which had been covered with a concrete and copper exterior in 1935. The goal was to bring the Dome, located in Preston Bradley Hall within the Chicago Cultural Center, back to its original grandeur of 1897.

Process Steps:

  1. The art glass was carefully removed, crated and relocated to an off-site location where it would spend the next six months being restored.
  2. The existing roof that consisted of copper and concrete plank was removed from the steel frame and hoisted to the main roof where it was hauled away.
  3. An old radiator heating system in the interstitial space was also removed, along with the florescent lights that had previously illuminated the art glass from the topside of the dome.
  4. A new skylight would be incorporated above the art glass that would light the hall below with natural light. While the skylight was in fabrication, the interior decorative finishes work started on the cast iron frame. This process encompassed many steps including: cleaning, painting, aluminum leafing and finishing with a two-step varnish coat.
  5. When ready, installation of the new skylight would require precise coordination, as all the components needed to be craned to the roof since there was no access from within the building. The aluminum stick frame pieces were lifted first, the frame installed, and then the glass was craned into position over a two-night span.
  6. Finally, the reinstallation of the restored art glass. The glass was reinstalled starting at the top and working down to make sure that no piece was damaged from moving around the interstitial space. Once all pieces were installed, the platform from which the glass had been installed was removed. This was a majestic process as it slowly allowed the sun to filter into the hall below to unveil the dazzling beauty of the Tiffany Dome as it had not been seen since the 1930s.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2008 Project of the Year - Renovation/Restoration, Small Project, Midwest Construction
  • 2008 Chicago Landmark Award for Preservation