Monday / May 06, 2019 / 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Chicago's Updated Building Code: The Basics for the AEC Community (Session 1) - FULL!

Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington Street, Chicago


This session has reached capAcity. 

On April 10, 2019, the Chicago City Council approved a full rewrite of the Chicago Building Code that will better align the City's construction requirements with up-to-date model codes and national standards. The new code represents the first comprehensive revisions to the building code in 70 years and will make construction in Chicago more affordable and sustainable by expanding options to design and build with a wider range of materials and technologies. Chicago is now among the first major jurisdictions in the U.S. to adopt the 2018 International Building Code.

The rewritten code will:

  • Adopt specific, up-to-date requirements for a wide range of building materials such as walls, roofs and other construction that will provide guidelines and standards that are lacking in Chicago’s existing code.
  • Enhance safety by requiring sprinkler systems in new construction including hotels, most apartment buildings with 4+ units, places of assembly with 300+ occupants and new office buildings greater than 70 feet tall.
  • Encourage new development by allowing buildings with sprinkler systems to have greater height, number of stories, and floor area per construction type.
  • Allow for more cost-effective construction of single-family homes by adopting risk-based structural design requirements so that a 2-story single-family home will not need to meet the same structural requirements as a 15-story hospital.
  • Create greater opportunities for conversion of existing basements and attics as livable space without costly structural alterations by reducing minimum ceiling heights, as well as providing more options to meet light and ventilation requirements.
  • Encourage preservation of Chicago’s existing building stock, including historic buildings, by providing additional flexibility and options for rehab work. This will bring down the cost of projects like the adaptive re-use of schools, retail buildings, and vacant buildings throughout the city.
  • Promote energy efficiency and sustainability by making it easier to construct green buildings – ones that are durable, functional and energy efficient.
  • Enhance public safety in the event of a natural disaster by adopting seismic design requirements for critical facilities such as hospitals and fire stations and some taller buildings.
  • Adopt the International Building Code’s widely used terminology and classification systems for building occupancies and construction types, making it easier for architects and builders to follow and meet Chicago’s code requirements.

At this program, Commissioner Judith Frydland and Deputy Commissioner Grant Ullrich, Assoc. AIA, will provide the community with an introduction to these changes:

  • Commissioner Frydland will talk about why this code modernization is important for Chicago and the success of Building Code Modernization Phase 1.
  • Grant Ullrich will cover the key changes in Building Code Modernization Phase 2 relating to building planning, fire and life safety, enclosures and materials, structural, small residential, and rehabilitation of existing buildings.
  • Commissioner Frydland and Grant Ullrich will cover Phase 2 implementation schedule and next steps for Building Code Modernization Phase 3.


Click here for a press release about the code modernization.

    Click here for Modernizing Chicago’s Construction Codes booklet (use Google Chrome to access)

 Click here to access City Clerk’s web site and read the code substitutions approved by the City Council (scroll down to the bottom of the page for two PDF documents)  

Sponsored By

Chicago Department of Buildings, AIA Chicago, and Burnham Nationwide

Learning Units

1.5 LU/HSW

Member Price


Non Member Price