The Pullman National Monument Visitor Center by Richard Wilson of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture with Bauer Latoza Studio for the National Park Service Pullman Administration Building is a large-scale, community-initiated project geared to connect hundreds of thousands of people to culture, the outdoors, and America’s history.
For its community-centric design, The Pullman National Monument Visitor Center has recently been awarded a 2022 American Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The Pullman National Monument Visitor Center is the result of decades of community advocacy and determination, which saw the $35 million renovation project transform the iconic but long-abandoned Clock Tower and surrounding 12-acre campus.
The site is the former Pullman Company’s Administration building, formerly the Clock Tower, and Factory Grounds, eponymously named for its owner George Pullman, where until the late 1950s railcars were produced.
Designated a National Monument by President Barack Obama in 2015, the new Visitor Center and Factory Grounds sit in an urban national park.
The site has been at the forefront of every Pullman organization’s agenda since the Pullman company shut down.
From the beginning, the effort was led by the community members and its local organizations including the Historic Pullman Foundation, A. Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, and Alderman Anthony Beale.
After being designated as a National Monument, the National Park Service, National Park Service Foundation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and many others joined them in the effort to restore the vacant buildings and create an inspiring environment where people from across the globe can come to experience Pullman/Roseland and its history.
The project converts 12-acres and 27,000 square feet of abandoned buildings and grounds.
Chicago’s only National Park has begun drawing visitors and national attention, creating critical opportunities to connect hundreds of thousands of people to culture, the outdoors, and America’s history.
It has also created new jobs and other economic opportunities that are strengthening the local economy.
Since its opening in September 2021, the project is on pace to attract more than 300,000 visitors annually.
These visitors will be introduced to the stories of America’s civil rights and labor movements and encouraged to explore the Pullman community and its new amenities — like Culver’s, or attend a cultural program hosted at the Pullman Artspace Lofts as well as visit the A. Randolph Pullman Porter Museum and the Historic Pullman Foundation Visitor Center.
The project has also been a catalyst for further development in the Pullman community.
There are now plans to garner and invest additional resources to renovate the vacant Hotel Florence, the North Wing and Rear Erecting Shops at the Factory Grounds, and other buildings to help bring the stories of Pullman’s history alive for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who visit national parks each year.
More than $60 million in funds have already been allocated for infrastructure and transportation improvements in the area, which also will benefit more than 50,000 neighborhood residents and create additional economic opportunities in the region.
In addition to these future projects, efforts are underway to develop a new hotel on the remaining two-and-a-half acres of the former Ryerson Steel site, near the Visitor Center, which will help attract more people and businesses to the community and create more jobs.
Finally, it is expected that public agencies such as Metra, the Chicago Department of Transportation, CTA, and others will parlay the work done on-site to provide greater access to the site and to other communities for Pullman/Roseland residents.
Project: Pullman National Monument Visitor Center
Architects: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Lead Architect: Richard Wilson
Associate Architects: Bauer Latoza Studio, Ltd.
Client: National Park Service Pullman Administration Building
Photographs: Courtesy of the Architects