Updating an iconic landmark: Walgreens in the Wrigley Building in Chicago
Close to 30,000 square feet of marble-like porcelain tile and custom-made glass tile create a fresh interior design for the new Walgreens in the north tower of the Wrigley Building in Chicago
Within the last couple of years, Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Building has experienced a significant amount of change — from being designated as an official city landmark to undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation to a transformation into a state-of-the-art business environment with a new retail component. The building’s latest reincarnation — contributing to the newly developed retail area — was the addition of a two-story Walgreens in its north tower, which opened on June 25, 2014, and serves as one of the company’s new flagship stores.
The 27,800-square-foot store, located on the Magnificent Mile at 401 N. Michigan Avenue, is Walgreens’ 14th flagship store and the third in Chicago. It was designed by Ted Theodore, Jr. of the architectural firm, Camburas & Theodore, Ltd. in Des Plaines, IL; and built by Tom Ruckman, project manager at Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Inc. in Wood Dale, IL, and Joseph Hoog, owner of JB Hoog Design Consultants, LLC in Des Plaines, IL.
Twice the size of a typical Walgreens, the store follows the company’s new “Well Experience” format in which every aspect of the store focuses on the idea of being “well,” a rebranding effort to differentiate the company from the traditional drugstore. The first floor features an Upmarket Café, including a made-to-order juice, smoothie and milkshake bar; made-fresh daily sushi and sashimi; a large selection of produce; and prepared, on-the-go meal options such as wraps, soups, sandwiches and salads. Customers can also indulge in a self-serve frozen yogurt station and Icee station. The store also features a walk-in cooler with a wide selection of craft beers and wines complemented by an assortment of cheese and crackers, known as “the beer cave,” with the second floor containing a Look Boutique, which offers an expanded selection of skincare, hair care and cosmetics, as well as a 180-degree view of the Magnificent Mile from a section solely dedicated to Chicago souvenirs.
“The Walgreens company has been opening flagship stores across the country with an entirely new upscale look,” said Hoog, the Chicago area representative for Interstyle Glass of Vancouver, Canada, who supplied the tile that was used to construct the new store. “My initial involvement was with Interstyle Glass for these 16 new stores to date. Interstyle developed a custom glass tile exclusively for Walgreens’ project.”
Hoog said he originally became part of the project when the architect of this Walgreens, who was also enlisted to design nine other Walgreens stores that are located throughout Illinois and Chicago, contacted him about supplying tile for the State Street store in The Loop. “I received a call from Ted Theodore, Jr. at Camburas & Theodore inquiring about Interstyle Glass for the State St. Chicago project, which was specified for that project,” said Hoog. “When I stated that I also represent porcelain tile manufacturers, I was, after many months, invited to bring samples for the next flagship store in the Noel State Bank Building at the intersection of North Ave. and Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. In keeping with the architectural integrity of that building, I selected to show a marble-looking porcelain tile from TransCeramica Tile of Itasica, IL, along with Interstyle Glass and a true marble staircase.
Wrigley Building, Chicago, IL
Architect: Camburas & Theodore, Ltd., Des Plaines, IL
Tile Supplier: JB Hoog Design Consultants, LLC, Des Plaines, IL (TransCeramica and Interstyle Glass)
Tile Installer: Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Inc., Wood Dale, IL
Installation Products: Mapei Ultraflex LFT, Opticolor, Planipatch, Ultra Plan Easy, AquaDefense and Eco Prim Grip from Mapei of Deerfield Beach, FL
Installation Time: 3 months
“My relationship with TransCeramica spans over many years, and with that, I was able to negotiate a great product at a very reasonable cost,” he went on to say. “Along with Camburas & Theodore, Ted Theodore and his staff, I worked with the Walgreens design team, bringing them samples that were requested for this project, and ultimately, color selections and sizes were chosen. I also was invited by Walgreens to present selections for the Philadelphia flagship store, which again was porcelain tile from TransCeramica and a Statuary Venato marble-looking porcelain tile, which was also chosen.”
Because of his success with the Walgreens stores he had helped supply tile for in and around the Chicago area, Theodore and his team invited Hoog back to present options for the Wrigley Building’s store. “I researched the architectural details of the Wrigley Building — especially the flooring — and what I found was a white marble with darker boarders in many areas,” said Hoog. “I presented a Calacatta [marble-look] porcelain tile along with many other options. The presentation was made to the architect. The architect presented the material to the Walgreens design team of Joseph Kazlauskas, AIA, and Stephanie Nelson Designer and their team, and in the final selection, the Calacatta porcelain was chosen with a design of a brown porcelain border, supplied by TransCeramica.”
Hoog supplied a total of 28,000 square feet of porcelain tile from
TransCeramica for the floors in the store, and 240 square feet of custom made glass tile from Interstyle Glass for the wall area above the cosmetics department on the second floor. For the floors, 25,500 square feet of 18- x 18-inch porcelain tiles from the Marmi Di Napoli collection in Calacatta with a matte finish were employed. To create the floor border, 18- x 18-inch tiles from the Marmi Di Napoli collection in Bruno Di Pietra with a matte finish were fabricated to form 3- x 18-inch pieces. “Since this tile is not available in a 3- x 18-inch format, it needed to be cut from an 18- x 18-inch tile at the same calibration as the Calacatta tile otherwise the entire floor layout would not line up to be perfectly straight,” said Hoog. “We needed to fabricate 3,200 pieces of these tiles. Also, at the corner we needed to cut the 3- x 3-inch corner tile cut from an 18- x 18-inch Calacatta tile. Again, this needed to be very exact (calibrated) in order for the entire floor to line up. There were 350 of these 3- x 3-inch tiles used on the floor.”
On the wall above the cosmetics department, 240 square feet of tile from Interstyle Glass was used. “The tile is a 2- x 4-inch pink tile that was mesh-mounted,” said Hoog. “The tile was specially created for Walgreens flagship stores in pink or gray in a 2- x 4-inch x 8 mm size or a 4- x 8-inch x 8 mm size — depending on the store.”
A special feature of the store, which is located at the Michigan Ave. entrance, is a large mosaic tile reproduction of the Wrigley Building clock that runs on the floor and up on the wall. The clock utilizes Fiandre’s “Maximum” porcelain tile collection in Uni Ice matte, Uni Cloud matte and Astor Moon matte. “These tiles were 5 x 10 feet and then waterjet cut to create the sizes [that were needed],” said Hoog. “This was very detailed work and created a special challenge to the install team to make sure all the pieces fit to the exact specification and height.
“This design was created by Stephanie Nelson from the Walgreens design team,” Hoog went on to say. “I introduced the material to be used for this portion of the project. The size available is 5 x 10 feet in size, which is a huge tile, a state-of-the-art technology in this industry. The clock is 20 feet in diameter — half of it is on the floor and the other half is on the wall.”
The entire project took about six months to complete, with about three months allotted for the tile installation, according to Ruckman, who led the project’s installation. “We ran 24 hours a day for five consecutive days,” he said. “I had eight guys during the day working 12 hours and six guys during the night working 12 hours — Monday through Friday. It ran that way for almost a solid four weeks. We actually caught up to the general contractor, as far as our installation, and there was stuff they had to do behind us before we could keep going. When four weeks went by running two shifts, we transitioned to just working during the day with six guys for another three weeks [to compensate for the contractor].
“Normally, we just work during the day, but because of the opening date of the store, which was set, the only way to get this done was to work 24 hours because between the first and second floor, just the floor tile, there was a little over 21,000 square feet,” Ruckman went on to say. “It was all 18- x 18-inch porcelain on a 45-degree diagonal with a 3-inch border. They took the image of the clock, and I had it waterjet cut into the thin panel porcelain and that was installed in the floor as well. That tile in that space for the building and for Walgreens — that was the perfect tile for that building.”
Ruckman and his team utilized mostly Mapei products to complete the installation, including Ultraflex LFT thin set mortar, Opticolor grout, Planipatch and Ultra Plan Easy underlayment materials, AquaDefense for the crack isolation membrane and Eco Prim Grip roll-on synthetic resin-based primer (since there were some areas where they were installing tile over tile).
“The Wrigley Building is probably 80 to 90 years old, if not older, so it was all remodeled work,” said Ruckman. “The second floor had another company come in and pour in a 2-inch lightweight concrete, which we had to underlay to make it flat for our tile installation. [On the] first floor, there was one section where they tore the floor out so we had to float part of the floor with a mudbed and transition using Planipatch and Ultra Plan easy for underlayments. There was also one section where there was old existing quarry tile that was there for maybe 30 to 40 years that we went directly over.
“Our guys are really good with doing the underlayment, so as long as your floor is properly underlaid, the tile tends to go in kind of easy,” he went on to say. “The floor went in really well. I spent 20 years in the field installing before coming to the office, and that’s one of the flattest floors that I’ve seen in a long time. I was extremely impressed myself on the quality and finish of it. The tile installation seemed to be pretty easy. I’d say the most challenging part was the floor prep.”
Since the project’s completion in June 2014, both Hoog and Ruckman have heard positive remarks from everyone, including Walgreens. “I have received many positive comments from those that have been in the new Walgreens in the Wrigley Building. I have especially received many comments about the clock,” said Hoog.
“I was told by the general contractor that they received a letter from Walgreens complimenting them on how well the whole space was put together and how this particular general contractor was going to be the go-to contractor to do all of the remaining Walgreens flagship stores in Chicago,” said Ruckman. “People have raved about the floor, quality and how flat it is. It’s an extremely nice looking floor.”