Metal Roof and Wall Cladding Modernizes an Older Manufacturing Facility Near Chicago’s O’hare Airport

Successfully manufacturing precision machined parts for the medical, automotive, plumbing, defense and other industries since the late 1940s, it was time to upgrade the family-owned EJ Basler Co. campus’ outdated, low-ceiling masonry buildings just east of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

Before determining how to proceed, Chicago-based Amstadter Architects was brought in to evaluate the situation. 

“The steel building had rigid bends with bar joists and splayed beams to create the trusses, covered with light-gauge metal siding,” reports Marc Amstadter. “The old roof had been torn off and you looked up through the old building into this building. If you can imagine someone plopping a steel building on top of and enveloping an old masonry building, that’s what it was.”

The manufacturing facility could have been completely torn down, but Amstadter suggested retaining the existing structural skeleton, reinforcing it with new structural steel, re-building the metal building system, supplied by EcoSteel, and adding new cladding with insulated metal panels manufactured by All Weather Insulated Panels.

Brought in for the structural work and IMP installation, Justin Montgomery, CEO, Meco Erection Inc., relates, “They were thinking of demoing the building, but then they got engineers and architects involved, and obviously EcoSteel, and decided to use the structure that was there and design new buildings around it and tie into it.”

For the roof, SR2 standing seam roof panels were selected and FL40 wall panels for the cladding.

Through the construction process, a lot of reinforcement was required. While the frame was in good condition, the girts and purlins had to be replaced, in addition to the cold-formed steel. The building team had difficulty getting enough diaphragm action out of the sandwich panels which required adding to the structure.

A new slab was poured over the existing slab of the 32,000-square-foot building and an addition was added to the back to connect it to the existing production facility next door. Also a metal building, but on a different height the addition was ramped to make the connection.

“These types of builds are really fast compared to conventional steel,” relates Montgomery. “It was just a couple of months to get that whole project done.”

In the main building, large clear spans of 120 feet across lent much flexibility with the design of the shop floor and allowed for freer movement of materials. 

In stark contrast the previous building, clerestory windows on the east and west walls bring in lots of natural light. In addition, a large curtainwall welcomes north-facing light and showcases the company’s capabilities and modern technology to the street and passersby.

To enhance the daylight, the entire interior is painted white, lending a fresh, clean look.

“EcoSteel had a vision for the building. They came up with a unique design that was able to incorporate a lot of the existing structure, using the EcoSteel panels, and the results have been tremendous,” reports EJ Basler President Dennis Basler.

In addition to the durability and longevity provided by the metal building, the IMPs do a great job of climate control. “The associates that work in this building are just thrilled to be here. We couldn’t be more pleased,” he adds.

Winning a first place MCA award in the retrofit category, the project also caught the attention of Forbes magazine. In a recent article entitled “Multiple Benefits Suggest Steel Construction’s Time Has Arrived,” the project is described as “combining quick construction, [a] striking appearance and the ability to scale with the company’s growth over time.”

The new facility currently houses more than 25 Star Swiss style lathes and 16 Eurotech and Myana CNC lathes to produce customized part solutions in a variety of materials, which are then shipped all over the world.

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