Engineering duo revives
Old Post Office in Chicago

JLLers keep Chicago legacy alive through
“the largest historic redevelopment in the country”

In June of 2016, Ted “Teddy” Kerrigan walked into Chicago’s vacant 2.7 million-square-foot Post Office (OPO). “This Chicago landmark sits at the end of the Eisenhower Expressway, and it was in dire need of a heavy-duty makeover,” he shared. Teddy knew he had his work cut out for him as Chief Engineer for the project and intentionally built an experienced team to handle the high-profile renovation. Six weeks later, Jason Blessing joined the team and for this engineering duo, the rest was history.

As Chicago-natives, Jason and Teddy knew the history of the OPO well. “It’s a local landmark consistently mentioned on the news during traffic segments,” Jason recalls. From the start, Teddy and Jason felt that they were meant to work together. Both are legacy Chicago engineers – Teddy’s father was an engineer and Jason’s grandfather worked as a chief engineer for over 40 years. Prior to working as the Assistant Chief Engineer with Teddy for OPO, Jason worked as a union electrician. While he enjoyed that work, he wanted to learn more about all facets of buildings, not just electrical systems. Thanks to Teddy, he was given a chance to prove himself and expand his horizons.

Step one of the OPO project consisted of removing all the debris, including 2,800 tons of steel. Teddy shares, “Even just the abatement took two years, and the lead paint removal lasted 18 months.” Debris was brought to the roof and removed by helicopters and taken to dumpsters waiting by the Chicago River. This removal process ended up being the least of their challenges. Due to The OPO’s proximity to Amtrak at Union Station, the biggest hurdle ended up being management of work amidst the train schedules. The logistics for removing debris and machinery safely and without significant impact to commuters and citizens in the area were a massive undertaking.

The OPO renovation has been described as “the largest historic redevelopment in the country.” The Chicago landmark boasts a 28,000-square-foot fitness center, 10,000 square feet of meeting space, and is currently developing a large food hall and multiple bars. Not to mention, the 3.5-acre rooftop park where it produces its own local honey. Even though the renovation was undoubtedly a glamorous and highly regarded success, Jason and Teddy believe the real triumph lies in their working relationship.

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Both describe people as one of their favorite parts of being an engineer – and it shows. “We are alike and unique, balancing out the other’s weaknesses with his strengths.” shared Teddy. Teddy brought his experience for remaining calm in unforeseen emergency situations like COVID-19. He also loves to teach, which his team appreciates. “No one knows everything,” Teddy says. When he started as an apprentice engineer at the Standard Oil building (now Aon Center), engineer Terry Enright laid the foundation for Teddy’s career. Like Terry, Teddy’s goal is to constantly give his team learning opportunities – such as he’s done with Jason – because his philosophy is that the more engineers know about the building, the more confident they’ll be at work.

Jason brought with him not only his electrical experience, but his strong network and connections within the electrical field. He’s been trained to catch small details that others might miss and this attention to detail made him crucial for the OPO project. He’s a team player and feels very passionate about getting to know his teammates.

"I pride myself on the camaraderie of my team, learning about their friends and families and just getting to knowt hem as people outside of work.” shared Jason.

The OPO isn’t just an old post office anymore, and Teddy and Jason aren’t just engineers.

“The Old Post Office project is an inspiration for the city of Chicago that requires time, expertise and patience.” said Teddy. “It was an honor to be part of such a historic project.”

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