Columbia College Chicago: 618 S. Michigan Facade

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

Originally designed in 1913 and clad in a white terracotta masonry façade, the structure at 618 S. Michigan Ave has been home to a variety of tenants. The original façade was removed in the early 1950s and replaced with a modern curtain wall that, by 2010, was in a state of disrepair, and mandated for replacement by the City of Chicago.

An historic image of the building from the 1900s was abstracted into individual “pixels” of birds in flight, and segmented into over 150 unique pieces for glass frit bonding. Up close, one sees the specificity of the dot image (a single bird), but when viewed from a distance, the ghosted image of the building’s original historic façade appears.

While the more obvious benefit of this process is to showcase the building’s original appearance envisioned in its 1913 design, the lesser-known advantage relates to Chicago’s stance along the Mississippi Flyway bird migration route: birds follow the Lake Michigan shoreline and rest in green spaces like Grant Park – immediately opposite the building – along the way. The glass manufacturer’s research shows the varied pixilation in the design pattern achieves a deterrence of upwards of 80 percent of bird collisions.

Architect of Record



Columbia College Chicago

General Contractor

W.E. O'Neil


  • Rockey Structures
  • Chicago Heights Glass