Rookwood Pottery Co. Recognized for its Role in the Historic Renovation of Chicago’s Landmark Monroe Building

Date: 5/7/2012

Posted by: Rookwood Pottery


 Contact: Lisa Biank Fasig

JZMcBride and Associates or 513.231.5115


Rookwood Pottery Co. Recognized for its Role in the Historic Renovation of Chicago’s Landmark Monroe Building

Rookwood Artisans Rely on History, Chemistry and their Own Hands to Recreate Thousands of Original Tiles in 100-Year-Old Tower   

CINCINNATI, OH. – (May 7, 2012) – The Monroe Building, the historic Chicago tower that The Rookwood Pottery Co. has been significantly involved in restoring, won a special recognition trophy for historic restoration in the first Coverings Installation & Design Awards, part of an international trade show dedicated to showcasing the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone. The awards reception took place April 19 in Orlando, Fla.

The Coverings Installation & Design Awards judges recognized the installation and design teams of the Monroe Building for their high degree of craftsmanship and compelling results. The Chicago firm of Holabird & Root is the project designer.

The 100-year-old Romanesque Monroe Building, an architectural gem that houses the Pritzker Military Library, in July will celebrate its ambitious restoration. This work includes the complete recondition and replacement of thousands of original Rookwood tiles along the walls and ceilings throughout the building. In fact, the interior’s vaulted lobby is graced by one of the largest commercial installations of Rookwood tile in the country.

Rookwood’s artists worked meticulously to restore the tiles originally handcrafted by their long-ago counterparts in 1911. They invested years in the project, relying on original construction documents, early photographs, a good dose of chemistry and historic material retrieved from the site.

“Since we had to mimic age progression to match 100-year-old tiles, this project took extensive research and testing,” said Jim Robinson, artist and glaze chemist at Rookwood Pottery. “We used an extraordinarily wear-resistant floor tile glaze and sophisticated color variation to create a visually resonant installation. For the wall tiles we engineered a crackle pattern customized to match that of the original tiles and used stains to enhance the craze-line patterns.

“Even under close inspection it will be virtually impossible to detect the new tiles from those made in 1911."

About Rookwood Pottery

Founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols as the first female-owned U.S. manufacturing company, Rookwood Pottery won the grand prize at the 1889 Paris Expo, transforming the world’s perception of American art. It became one of America’s most coveted luxury brands in the 20th century and can be found in grand homes, hotels and public spaces including Union Terminal in Cincinnati, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and Grand Central Station, New York. From its studios in Cincinnati, Rookwood’s uniquely talented artists craft art tile, art pottery, corporate gifts and special commissioned products for designers, architects, homeowners and businesses. Rookwood sets the standard for what can be achieved in design and ceramics. Visit Rookwood at or our Twitter page at