To some, it’s considered the heart of Chicago: the spot where Michigan Avenue intersects with Wacker Drive, where the Chicago River flows under the DuSable Bridge, where Fort Dearborn spurred the city’s early growth.
by Jessica Cilella, Web Editor
We’re thrilled to be establishing the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) at this bustling core, among some of the most stunning historic buildings in the city. The area, always lively, is currently experiencing a boom, with the opening of Foster + Partners’ new Apple store, the growing popularity of the Riverwalk and renovations to several architecturally significant buildings, including 111 E. Wacker, designed by the studio of Mies van der Rohe, where the CAC will be located.
333 North Michigan
On the southeast corner of Michigan and Wacker, next to the future home of the CAC, stands this 1929 Art Deco landmark designed by Holabird and Root. The long and slender limestone tower recently underwent at $60 million renovation by Goettsch Partners. Its details include a granite base and limestone reliefs depicting Native Americans, hunters, traders and pioneers at Fort Dearborn, which once stood on the site. The design was inspired, in part, by Eliel Saarinen’s second-prize entry in the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower competition. The building also houses the Tavern Club, a recently redesigned social gathering place whose past members included Frank Lloyd Wright, Mayor Richard J. Daley, Carl Sandburg and William Wrigley.
London Guarantee Building
Alfred S. Alschuler designed this 1923 Beaux-Arts skyscraper on the southwest corner of Michigan and Wacker to house London Guarantee & Accident Insurance. Over the years, it housed other headquarters as well, including the Stone Container Corporation, Crain Communications and WLS Radio. A jazz supper club operated on ground floor from the 1950s to early 1970s. One of the most distinctive features of the limestone building is the arcade of eight two-story high Corinthian columns topped by a domed temple. The arched entrance commemorates Fort Dearborn and leads into a lobby with an ornately decorated rotunda and historical murals. Recent renovations by Goettsch Partners, including the addition of a 22-story glass annex, converted the building into the luxurious LondonHouse hotel.
The Gothic Revival tower northeast of the bridge has been a cathedral for journalism since 1925. In 1922, New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells won the Chicago Tribune’s international competition for a new headquarters design, which sought “the most beautiful building in the world” and drew in more than 260 entries from 23 countries. The structural steel building is covered in Indiana limestone that is intricately carved at the base and top. Its crown imitates a Medieval European tower and the entryway has quotations about freedom of the press carved into the walls. The exterior features fragments of famous places around the world, including Pearl Harbor, the Great Wall of China, the White House and the Great Pyramid in Egypt. The property was recently sold and there are plans to turn it into a mixed-use redevelopment that could include residential, retail and office space.
This luminous white terra cotta building proudly stands northwest of the bridge. The architect, Charles G. Beersman of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, selected six shades of tiles that get brighter on the higher levels, creating a glimmer that makes it stand out against the sky and surrounding buildings. The building consists of two structures that are linked by a 14th floor bridge. The clock tower is styled after the Giralda Tower of the Seville Cathedral in Spain and an observation room in the cupola once offered views from near 400 feet above the ground. Finished in 1924, the building was a balance between 1893 White City-inspired traditional architecture and great height, which was a new trend at the turn of the century.