The Daley Center is as much a part of Chicago as deep-dish pizza and hot dogs without ketchup, and starting Monday, it will experience one of the city’s famed summer traditions: construction.
The lobby will undergo a $2 million makeover that will change the way visitors enter and exit the building. The upgrades will also feature automated turnstiles for judges, attorneys and building employees.
For the first week of construction, the east lobby of the building near Dearborn Street will close, allowing access only on the west side. From June 23 through June 30, the west lobby along Clark Street closes, and the east lobby reopens.
The renovations are being funded through a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant.
When the dust clears July 1, building patrons can expect to see a new entry and exit scheme.
Gone will be the retractable-belt stanchions at each corner of the lobby. They’ll be replaced by bulletproof glass barriers.
The security lines and metal detectors will remain in the same spots, but identification-carrying judges and attorneys won’t be allowed to walk around the side of the security equipment. Instead, they will be directed to access the elevators only through the turnstiles on the southern side of each lobby.
Users will tap new ID cards on a sensor to open the turnstiles, which will be supervised by sheriff’s deputies.
“They’ll scan them, their picture will pop up and then they’ll go through,” said Benjamin Breit, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart.
Dart’s office plans to issue the new cards to authorized people once the turnstiles are installed. But the new turnstiles will be open, and attorneys can pass through with their current sheriff’s identification card until cards are issued.
“We expect that it’s not going to be too big a change,” Breit said. “Until the proxy cards are ready, it’s going to be business as usual.”
Dart’s office has not set a timeline for issuing the new cards. Breit said the office will make announcements to attorneys and courthouse staff.
Built in 1965 and originally called the Chicago Civic Center until it was renamed a week after former Mayor Richard J. Daley died in 1976, the courthouse complex is among the nation’s busiest.
The Daley Center was designated a Chicago landmark in 2002 as the city’s first public building using a modern, international-style architectural design instead of a classical one.
The lobbies’ changes were approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks’ permit review committee at its March meeting.