Restoration of Crown Hall





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


This essay documents the research of restoration and modifications to Mies van der Rohe’s masterwork, Crown Hall, the heart of the Chicago campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. Restoration was necessitated by 5 decades of use during which the building had fallen into major disrepair. During the restoration, practical and philosophical issues arose from the building’s landmark designation by regional and national authorities. The essay describes the forensic research that preceded design, investigation and selection of alternate materials modifications to the building envelope. This includes a detailed description of modifications balancing original materials and systems with current codes. The essay concludes by placing the restoration of Crown Hall in the larger context of preservation of modern buildings and the threat to these works which, unlike Crown Hall, are rarely protected by landmark designation.

How to Cite

Sexton, M. (2017). Restoration of Crown Hall. Docomomo Journal, (56), 64–71.




Author Biography

Mark Sexton, Northwestern University

Founding partner of Krueck + Sexton Architects. Along with Ronald Krueck, he designs and manages all of the firm’s work. He is a member of the GSA Design Excellence Program National Registry of Peer Professionals, serves on the Board of Overseers for the IIT College of Architecture, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Advisory Design Council and is currently on the faculty of Northwestern University teaching an architectural design studio in the School of Engineering. The firm has been recognized with numerous awards including AIA National and Chicago Honor Awards, Divine Detail and Interior Awards, Business Week/Architectural Record – Good Design is Good Business Award, Chicago Athenaeum Architecture Award, AIA COTE Top Ten Green Building, Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois and Design Build Institute Project of the Year. In 1997, Montacelli Press published the firm’s first monograph, Krueck + Sexton Work in Progress.


Atelier Ten; Trans Solar, “Illinois Institute of Technology Crown Hall Renovation Environmental Study-Stage I Report”, New York, Atelier Ten, 2003.

Fujikawa Johnson and Associates, Inc.; Krueck + Sexton; TT-CBM Engineers; Environmental Systems Design; Pacific Construction Services, S.R. Crown Hall Restoration Study – 1997, Chicago, Fujikawa Johnson and Associates, 1997.

MCCLIER, S.R. Crown Hall Historic Structure Report, Chicago, McClier, 2000.

PADOVAN, Richard, Towards Universality: Le Corbusier, Mies, and De Stijl, Routledge, London, 2002.

PEARSON, Ginny, “Historical Significance of the Mies Campus at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)”, Chicago, IIT Media Relations, 2003.

Leach, Neil, Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory. New York, Routledge, 1997.

THOMPSON, Eric, “National Historic Landmark Nomination: S.R. Crown Hall”, Washington, DC, National Park Service, 2001.

WETZEL, Catherine, “An Integrated and Collaborative Approach: Integrating Technology in Beginning Design”, Proc. of 2008 National Conference on Beginning Design Student, Atlanta, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2008.