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April 12, 2022 Huen Electric Completes Work on Award-Winning Renovation of 20th-Century Hospital

Engineering News Record recognizes Cook County Hospital’s transformation into Luxury Hotels as among the “Best of the Best” Projects

For more than a dozen years, Cook County Hospital sat vacant on W Harrison Street in Chicago. Over a century after its original construction, Walsh Construction chose Huen Electric for the design-build services needed to electrify the dilapidated, historic structure as part of transforming it into two modern, functioning Hyatt hotels.

Huen Electric’s scope of work included electrical power, lighting, voice data, CCTV, cable TV, and fire alarm systems among the 3 million square feet of space, including the 210 rooms of the dual-branded Hyatt House and Hyatt Place hotel.

Huen Electric completed the electrical work in the fall of 2021. Since then, the project has won several awards: the American Institute of Architects Illinois’ Honor Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks’ Preservation Excellence Award, and Engineering News Record Midwest named it a Best Project and it made it onto ENR’s top 20 “Best of the Best” list.

Built in 1916, the hospital provided much-needed health care to Chicagoans for decades. It was the site of the world’s first blood bank, and in 1987, the first hospital ward in the U.S. exclusively for AIDS patients. Later, it was also the setting of the TV drama “E.R.”

In 2018, after years of neglect and decay, Murphy Development Group convinced the county to save the building. It would require a massive undertaking to rescue and repurpose the dilapidated structure into a 210-room hotel with an amenity floor, an 11-vendor food court, a seven-story office wing, a first-floor daycare center, and a new parking lot.

“By the time we took over, [the structure] was fully depreciated,” said John T. Murphy, chairman and CEO of Murphy Development Group, in a video produced by Walsh Construction. “There were trees growing outside the facade, the homeless had populated the building. It was in very, very rough shape. But we figured out the right plan and the right economy that allowed us to move it forward.”

Huen Electric was proud to be part of the team and contribute its expertise to this once-in-a-lifetime project.

“Even through all the curveballs thrown at us, our team was able to quickly react and come up with several different types of solutions and really vet out multiple scenarios so that we could move forward in the most efficient manner,” said Ken Johnston, senior project manager for design-build contractor Walsh Construction.

Now the building piques the interest of both tourists and brings new life to the city of Chicago. According to Ken Johnston, “To renovate a building like this is really to touch a part of history.”