Savage Services Calumet River Industrial Site

Creating a Win for All in a Seemingly Impossible Situation


Savage Services is a Utah-based company, and they met Hutter Architects as they were planning to build a sulfur forming facility* along the Calumet River on Chicago’s south side.


Savage was well staffed with engineers, however because of an almost impossibly tight deadline and because they lacked local staff to coordinate and oversee the project, they sought an architect to manage the city’s permitting process.

The project had an extreme time crunch: The building needed to be completed and operational within approximately one year, but a zoning permit was required before the city would begin processing a building permit, and with these consecutive processes each typically taking 6-12 months this meant that no time would be left for the construction.


Hutter Architect’s regulatory knowledge and experience dealing with Chicago’s Building and Zoning Departments and the Office of Underground Coordination not only allowed a smooth and successful navigation of this highly ambitious permitting process, the process was completed in record time and Savage’s design and permit deadlines were met.

Hutter Architects started immediately by meeting to fully understand Savage’s objectives, schedule and priorities. Hutter Architects proceeded to diligently search through the city codes, and where there was conflict, envisioned possibilities instead of roadblocks. Hutter Architects leveraged the high value of the jobs the Savage operation would bring to Chicago against those conflicted areas of the code, and successfully argued with city officials for the unprecedented approach involving simultaneous permitting for both zoning and building. In other words, Hutter Architects found ways through a seemingly impossible situation that led to a win for all parties.

Once the process was on the track, Hutter Architects kept constantly involved to be sure it stayed on track and moving forward. They maintained excellent client communication with weekly phone conferences, checking in and listening to the many stakeholders to insure that their diverse needs and priorities were being addressed. At key milestones, Hutter Architects brought the team together to exchange ideas and in created an environment such that nothing would be overlooked during the fast-forward timeframe.

Hutter Architects also proved highly valuable in a number of unforeseen but critical ways because as the project evolved Savage recognized additional benefits Hutter Architects could bring to the table: Savage engaged Hutter Architects to design a sustainable administration building with a green roof, an electrical power building, and for assistance with the housing around the process equipment. Hutter Architects also worked with the site plan traffic patterns to create efficiencies for moving and stacking vehicles on the way in and out. Finally, Hutter Architects initiated the concept of extending the Savage brand through the design of the building, allowing it to make a bold statement for Savage that they love.


Hutter Architects’ negotiating skills, diplomacy, and extensive and long term experience in working with city departments meant that they were uniquely positioned to interface between Savage and the city to make the seemingly impossible a reality. Hutter Architects was able to not only find a route to connect the two parties, but to do so in an expedient manner that led to a high-value win for all involved. Savage was greatly satisfied with the outcome and also amazed at how successfully it had been transacted. In a letter Tony Worthen the Project Manager said, “…simply saying thank you is not enough to fully characterize my appreciation for all that your team has done to ensure the success of this project… Please convey my sincere appreciation to your team for a job well done and their invaluable service on this project.”

*The process for which this building was built is completely sustainable. When petroleum is turned into gasoline for cars, sulfur and other compounds are stripped out in order to make the fuel burn cleaner. The sulfur is extracted in liquid form, but in order to transfer sulfur as a liquid it must be kept hot. Savage takes molten sulfur and converts it to room-temperature pellets for ease, efficiency and safety in storage and transportation.”