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Official Name

Tribune Tower

Address

435 N. Michigan Ave.

Completion Date

1925

Neighborhood

Near North Side

In 1922, on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, the Chicago Tribune announced an international competition for a new downtown headquarters.

The competition sought, "...for Chicago, the most beautiful building in the world." A total of $100,000 in prize money was offered with a $50,000 prize for the winner.

More than 260 entries from 23 countries, and a place in history as one of the largest, and most important architectural competitions in America—this is the legacy of the Tribune Tower.
 

American versus European Design

Although 23 countries were represented in the competition, most design entries came from the U.S. and Europe. Most American entries understood the profitability of the site and maximized the amount of rentable office space in their designs. Some European entries, however, sacrificed business practicality for a more monumental form. Austrian architect Adolf Loos proposed a giant Doric column, which may have been a pun on the columns printed in the newspaper. Italian architect Saverio Dioguardi proposed a large classical arch resembling the Arch De Triomphe in Paris. However, the winning entry—designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells—filled the permitted occupiable building envelope with floor after floor of office space.
 

A Cathedral for Journalism

Hood and Howells’ winning Gothic Revival tower used architectural ideas borrowed from the past. The lower office block is sheathed in Indiana limestone with vertical piers and horizontal spandrels characteristic of Art Deco. The building's crown recalls a Medieval European tower, imitating the Butter Tower of the 13th-century Rouen Cathedral in France. Inside, visitors encounter a Hall of Inscriptions. Carved into the lobby walls are famous quotations from Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, praising and exalting freedom of the press.

While some critics had hoped the winning design would point toward the future of American architecture, Hood and Howells' design appealed to the newspaper owners' sense of nostalgia, history and moral purpose.