The Principia, Mary Horton Rackham Court, Historic Renovation

Elsah, Illinois

Mary Horton Rackham Court, a historic college residence hall designed by Bernard Maybeck in the 1930s, is an architectural treasure. However, for the building’s primary users—the students—their first home away from home had become obsolete and dingy with the wear and tear of six decades. Rackham Court was in need of the kind of revitalization that would allow ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMCohen Hilberry Architects, Architect-of-RecordFEATURED IN2000 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYResidence Halls/Lounges building’s intrinsic character to show through, while providing students an environment in which to thrive.

The renovation included an overall upgrade of the building’s condition, appearance and performance. Also included in the project was space for computer rooms, phone systems, laundry facilities and a counselor’s office—all of which had to be carved from existing building volume.

The architect’s approach was to honor those elements that were architecturally significant or still suitable to their function, and to change only those elements that had outlived their program or were in violation of codes.

Photographer: ©Stan Strembicki