Described as “ultra-modern” in 1958 when it first opened, the Chicago Skyway toll plaza connecting the Indiana Toll Road to Illinois’s Dan Ryan Expressway had devolved into anything but in recent years. The iconic gateway to the city was in need of modernization, notably new solutions to help drivers and reduce the confusion that caused traffic congestion.
Under a $7 million plan to upgrade the tolling plaza, the Skyway’s private owners tapped local architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to remove decades worth of piecemeal modifications and bring the midcentury structure back to its original streamlined glory.
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“In the 90s, they installed all of the lane signs in the middle of the canopy fascia, which was a major defining element of the original structure,” explained SOM designer Michael Jividen. “By pulling that down and away, it allowed for a more faithful restoration.”
“The attitude with historic preservation is keep what’s historic and clearly identify or set aside what’s new,” added SOM’s Scott Duncan. “I think it’s quite clear in our arrangement that we tried to have the lightest touch possible on the existing historic elements.”