From left to right: Attendees of the 2013 Acanthus Awards Ceremony at the Elks National Veterans Memorial. Center; The Acanthus Award presented to O’Brien Metal. On right; John O’Brien, founder and CEO of O’Brien Metal prepares to receive the award.
The Institute of Classical Architecture recently awarded O’Brien Metal Inc. an Acanthus Award in Allied Arts & Craftsmanship. The Acanthus Awards recognize excellence and distinction in classical and traditional architecture within the areas of architecture, interior design, allied arts and craftsmanship, preservation & restoration, landscape design, and un-built and student work.
The award was given for our role in helping to restore Northwestern University’s Charles Deering Library to its striking historic condition and add period pieces to uphold the collegiate Gothic style of architecture. The Acanthus Awards 2013 event took place at the majestic Elks National Veterans Memorial on the Chicago lakefront and was attended by a diverse group of notable architects, designers and business leaders.
“We at O’Brien Metal are honored to have received this award and be a part of the ICAA and this special event. This is just one example of the outstanding results we have been able to create in partnership with HBRA Architects,” said John O’Brien, founder of O’Brien Metal.
Blending old with new.
From left to right: The entrance to the historic Charles Deering Library at Northwestern University. Center; Glass vitrine case that holds library treasures. On right; The welcome area and turnstile entrance to the library.
Working closely with HBRA Architects and Northwestern University, the goal of the team was to preserve the intricate elements of the original architecture, most notably the bronze castings and authentic steel forgings inspired by legendary blacksmith Samuel Yellin’s contributions to the library in the 1930s. They say there is no greater form of flattery than imitation. At O’Brien Metal, we couldn’t agree more. Yellin crafted hand-forged lighting fixtures, grillage panels, ornate railings, doors, and intricate bronze castings to replicate the Gothic grandeur of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. But time can exact a toll on such metal masterpieces, leading the University to contact HBRA to help restore the Library to its original luster.
We used modern technology combined with authentic blacksmithing techniques to hammer, contour, darken and antique hand-forged vitrine stands that hold library treasures, such as the scribbled lyrics of Eleanor Rigby by John Lennon. Lamp posts were custom molded, cast and fabricated in bronze, topped off with a statuary bronze patina. Double-bar exterior bronze handrails were meticulously designed to contrast with the darkened lamp posts, then fabricated out of extruded bronze that was darkened and scuffed back to show the luster of the metal. Even the way finding signs were hand-forged and designed to mimic the Library’s dramatic interior from the 1930’s.
About O’Brien Metal, Inc.:
Founded in Chicago, Illinois in 2007. We are digital & artisanal metal fabricators and renovation experts who understand the relationship between design and function, shape and finish. Partnering with some of the country’s most notable architects, interior designers, and landscape architects, we have been crafting beautiful interiors and striking exteriors throughout Chicago and New York. We are experts at working with specialty metals such as bronze, brass, nickel, silver, gold leaf, copper, stainless steel, and aluminum. For more information, visit O’Brien Metal online at obrienmetal.com.
About HBRA Architects, Inc.:
HBRA Architects has maintained offices in Chicago since its founding in 1961, and designs buildings for a range of purposes and scales. They have worked with a prestigious client list, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Lincoln Park Zoo, Princeton University, The Disney Institute, and Yale University. The firm has been recognized for excellence in design by professional organizations across the country in all categories of building. In addition to seven National Honor Awards from the American Institute of Architects, HBRA has received over 29 American Institute of Architects Chicago and other local Chapter Distinguished Building and Honor Awards. For more information, visit HBRA online at HBRA-arch.com.