Located at 947-949 W Newport Avenue, the 127-year-old structure has been physically relocated rather than demolished, making way for the new tracks while preserving historic architecture. In total, 16 buildings across three blocks were purchased by the CTA for the $570 million infrastructure project. The Vautravers Building was the only one to remain due to its designation as part of the historic Newport Avenue district.
To prepare the 1,000-ton structure, a system of jacks, bracing, and cribbing were staged beneath the building. Certain fragile pieces of the facade were temporarily removed, while vertical beams were installed for additional support. According to an article by the Chicago affiliate of ABC Eyewitness News, the building was lifted on Monday using this prepped system, while Tuesday focused on the actual moving process. The building will remain elevated for several more weeks as a new foundation is built.
The modernization is being engineered, designed, and built by Walsh-Fluor, a partnership between the Walsh Construction Company and Fluor Enterprises. Situated just north of Belmont station, this massive undertaking involves the construction of the new elevated Brown Line bypass and the straightening of the Red and Purple Line tracks. The straightened portion of the Red and Purple Lines would pass directly over the Vautravers Building’s footprint, thereby necessitating its move.
With the new bypass and straightened tracks, train speeds projected to be 60 percent faster at this juncture, the CTA expects to accommodate an additional 7,200 passengers per hour and save half a million travel hours per year.
Meanwhile, the broader $2.1 billion CTA L modernization will entail two phases. The first phase consists of the Red-Purple Modernization and the separate Lawrence-Bryn Mawr Modernization. The second phase will involve upgrades to the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr stations, as well as the stretches of track in between. The improvements come as ridership is expected to double along this 10-mile corridor by 2040.
Walsh-Flour partnered with subcontractor Wolfe House and Building Movers regarding logistics of the move, while Stantec Consulting Services and EXP Services Inc have provided additional design consulting throughout the entire Red-Purple modernization project. A full completion is expected by the end of this year.