Once a grimy, dingy eyesore, Chicago's Roosevelt Road subway station now welcomes visitors with inspiring structural-glazed-tile murals of the city's dramatic skyline. The project features 33,000 ceramic glazed pieces--mostly 2x8x8-inch units, with some 4x8x8-inch and architectural trim units as well. Largely federally funded, the $9.7 million retrofit made this rapid transit station wheelchair-accessible, in addition to more contemporary and inviting. Designed by Daniel P. Coffey & Associates Ltd. (DPCA), a Chicago-based architectural firm, the skyline silhouettes are rendered in three custom blues, ranging from very light to medium and dark "aqua" shades. Bands of red bullnose units top dark-hued blue wainscoting and accent the multiple manifestations of the "Roosevelt" name. Layers of ceramic glazes were applied to the 17-foot, 4-inch-long murals using stencils to create building shapes. The station name letters were silk-screened with a special ceramic glaze paste.The dark blue foreground represents Lake Michigan. The lighter shades reflect light and make the station brighter. For people entering the station and descending to the platform area, the cheerful skyline murals are designed to comfort--to make the experience less threatening. The bright colors also make the underground tunnel areas seem larger. Easy to construct with structural glazed tile, serpentine walls direct people from one point to another and allow for a safe and secure area.The project architects appreciate the design flexibility offered by structural glazed tile. All the mural designs were created using only eight tile patterns (reflecting variations in color, shape and dimension). The ability to be creative with relatively few components means it is easy to stockpile the material and replace a unit should one become damaged. Since structural clay tile contains a finer grind of clay than brick does, the material becomes more compact and harder when fired. Thus, structural glazed facing tile has an impervious surface that resists the wear and tear of a harsh environment. The product was chosen for the subway station largely because of its durability and ease of maintenance, especially its resistance to graffiti and other common stains. Though an interior job, the Roosevelt Road subway station required detailing to resist moisture penetration. In most cases, the structural tile covers below-grade poured concrete walls, behind which water vapor can condense easily. Water also can build up in this wall system from capillary contact with the ground. Consequently, a 1- to 1 «-inch drainage cavity was provided between the tile wythe and the backup, and the system included flashing and weep holes like a properly designed exterior wall.