SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2004

Evolution of the Development of the Chicago Facade Inspection Ordinance


In Chicago, IL, there are hundreds of high-rise buildings that were constructed starting in the 1890s. The exterior facade on these buildings includes terra cotta panels, thick stone panels, thin stone panels, brick veneer, precast concrete, poured-in-place concrete, steel panels, aluminum panels, and glass/aluminum curtain wall. After pieces of a terra cotta facade fell from a building in 1974 and killed a pedestrian, Chicago prepared its 1978 facade inspection. This ordinance was the first facade inspection ordinance in the United States. This ordinance was subsequently repealed. Due to subsequent facade failures, Chicago prepared its 1996 facade ordinance and amended this ordinance in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The amended ordinance is currently the most comprehensive facade ordinance in the United States. Approximately 70% of eligible buildings in Chicago have complied with the ordinance. This paper presents information on the evolution and development of the ordinance.

Author Information

Chin, IR
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., Chicago, IL
Gerberding, H
City of Chicago, Chicago, IL
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Developed by Committee: E06
Pages: 9–29
DOI: 10.1520/STP11458S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5491-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-3475-1