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Famous Chicago Buildings

Here are the most famous Chicago buildings to explore on your vacation! If you have even the slightest interest in buildings and architecture, Chicago is the city to visit! Skyscraper after skyscraper towers into the sky, each one with its own style, personality and enchanting story.

 Walk around, take a tour and discover these amazing structures. From Pre-Depression to Post-Depression and recent modern day, they offer stunning designs in brick, aluminum, glass and steel.

 See them from outside, take a walk inside and make sure your camera is close by! Here is our list of not-to-be-missed Chicago buildings.

See Also Tallest Buildings in Chicago 


Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

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Address: 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

The Chicago Cultural Center is a marvel of architecture. It was built in 1897 with one mission in mind, to impress and it certainly does that. The architects wanted to show that Chicago had arrived as a major world metropolis and no expense was spared. Extravagant materials like fine hardwoods, polished brass, rare imported marbles, colored stones and iridescent Mother-of-Pearl were used in the construction. This Chicago building boasts the largest Tiffany stained glass dome in the world, known as the Tiffany Dome. Positioned on the southern side of the building, it measures 38 feet in diameter and is constructed from over 30000 pieces of glass. On the opposite side is another marvel, a 40 foot diameter dome made up of over 50000 pieces of glass in an intricate Renaissance design.

Boston architectural firm, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge were commissioned to design the building. The layout features a five story south wing and a four story north wing. The walls are three feet thick and are clad with blue limestone on a granite base. The overall style is neoclassical with elements of Italian Renaissance. Look out for the Doric columns at the Randolph Street entrance and the coffered ceilings in the entrance hall. An arched portal with bronze framed doors defines the Washington Street entrance and the magnificent staircase made of white Carrara marble will thrill.

Apart from its magnificent architecture, the building hosts fabulous shows, exhibitions, theatre and music events all year round. An ideal outing for the entire family!

Photo by Aquistbe


Rookery Building Chicago

Rookery Building  Chicago

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Address: 224 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604

Another Chicago building that cannot be missed is the fabulous Rookery Building, situated at 209 South LaSalle Street. The building was completed by Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root of Burnham and Root in 1888 and originally housed their offices.

The exterior design of nooks and crannies encouraged crows and pigeons to nest in their droves, hence giving the building its name. The name was also re-enforced by the shady politicians it once housed! The design was one of the first high-rises in Chicago and stands 181 feet high with 12 stories. It features an interior steel frame, fire proofing, elevators and plate glass in a modern style, mixed together with older style brick faades and fancy decorations, making it first building to transcend from old to modern building techniques.

The architects of Rookery Chicago building took inspiration from ancient cultures including Byzantine, Moorish and Venetian influences which were incorporated. Due to the landscape of Chicago which features swampy soil, it had an innovative floating foundation, one of the first of its kind. The famous Frank Lloyd Wright had a hand in re-designing the main lobby in 1905.

Take a tour and learn about this iconic building. The Light Court inside is a focal point. Two stories high and totally made from glass, it provides natural illumination for the offices as well as an awe-inspiring attraction for photos!

Photo by Ken Lund


Wrigley Building Chicago

Wrigley Building Chicago

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Address: 400-410 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Sometimes having a vision leads to amazing things! When William Wrigley Junior chose an ugly and unsightly piece of land for this company headquarters no one was impressed! Today Wrigley Building is part of Chicago's Magnificent Mile, one of the most expensive pieces of real estate on the planet. Chicago in the 1920's was bursting with building activity and the Wrigley Building was part of this boom. It was constructed on a triangular shaped piece of land and designed by the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. The design was inspired by the Seville CathedralÕs Giralda Tower in Spain and also features influences of Spanish Revival and French Renaissance styles.

The Wrigley Chicago building offers two iconic towers. The south tower stands at 30 stories high and the north tower at 21 stories with a walkway joining the two towers. Positioned on the south tower is the famous clock which has many faces, each 19 feet in diameter, pointing in all directions. The gleaming white faade of the exterior is created by its glazed terracotta cladding and is hand washed from time to time to preserve it in pristine form. This was the first building in Chicago to have air-conditioning!

Visitors can shop at Walgreens and enjoy fabulous ice cream and chocolate at Ghirardelli Chocolate CafŽ. Then sit on the banks of the river at night and take photos of the magnificent scene of the Wrigley building lit up with floodlights!


Chicago Board of Trade Building

Chicago Board of Trade Building

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Address: 141 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604

The next Chicago building that you cannot miss is the Chicago Board of Trade. Construction started in 1882 and was met by fierce resistance by anarchists who denounced the spending of almost 2 million Dollars in a time of depression. Despite protests, the building rose up to be the tallest in its time and the first building over 300 feet high. It was built from structural steel and granite from the Fox island quarry. The Art Deco architecture is a marvel to this day. The exterior is clad in gray Indiana limestone and it is topped with a copper pyramid roof.

Dominating the top of the building is a three story high, 31 foot statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain. She weighs 6500 pounds and is made from aluminum. As a tribute to agriculture, she holds a sheaf of wheat in her left hand and a bag of corn in her right hand.

Other statues adorn the 19000 square foot trading floor depicting the stories of the work that goes on in the building. The interior decoration offers polished surfaces throughout and stunning black and white marble. The Board of Trade Chicago building was the first to have electric lighting and in 1885, the tower was lit up by a massive light driven by the building's generator, allowing it to be seen from 60 miles away. The building was renovated in 2005 at a cost of 20 million Dollars. Statues which had been removed from the old building in 1929 were recovered and brought back to their rightful home!

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The Chicago Theatre

Chicago Theatre Building

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Address: 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

Another iconic Chicago building that must be seen is The Chicago Theatre. When it opened in 1921 it was hailed as the 'Wonder Theatre of the World'. Known by its massive neon light reading 'Chicago' in the front, the building is designed in a French baroque style. For almost 20 years this building defined the best cinematic experience in the USA and many other venues were modelled after it.

Inside, you will find a huge, grandiose lobby which was inspired by the Royal Chapel at Versailles and a Grand Staircase which was modelled after staircase at the Paris Opera House. The front of the building features a six story tall replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Inside the Arc is a coat of arms of the Balaban and Katz chains. Two horses hold ribbons of 35mm film in their mouths and are set inside a Tiffany stained glass window.

The exterior of this beautiful Chicago building is covered in off-white terracotta and Neo-Baroque stucco designs were added by the famous McNulty Brothers. Music lovers will be enchanted to know that the Chicago Theatre is known for its grand Wurlitzer pipe organ. Known as the Mighty Wurlitzer, it could imitate the instruments of a full orchestra and is one of the oldest in existence.

The Chicago Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. This historical gem remains a popular entertainment venue to this day as is owned by Madison Square Garden Inc.

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Harold Washington Library

Harold Washington Library  Chicago

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Address: 400 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605

Literature lovers cannot miss the the Harold Washington Library. It is the main branch of the Chicago Public Library system and was the largest public library in the world when it opened in 1991. Located in Chicago's South Loop, the design was the winning entry for a 1988 competition that was held to create a library for Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.

The exterior is known for its classic huge granite blocks and red bricks inspired by the Beaux-Art style. The pediments are constructed of glass, aluminum and steel in the Mannerist style. Set on the apex of the building roof are huge acroteria or ornaments. Large aluminum owl figures offer a symbol of knowledge, seed pods aspire to the natural abundance of the Midwest and medallions in the divides between the granite blocks and bricks showcase the face of Ceres and ears of corn.

Explore the different floors of the Harold Washington Library Chicago building, there is an Exhibition Hall, a Children's Library and a Maker Space with 3D printers and laser cutters. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the building and teens will love the YouMedia space. Special sections for the visually impaired and physically disabled are located on the 5th floor and the 6th floor offers historical literature. Music lovers will be thrilled by the performing arts resources and music practice rooms on the 8th floor. When you need a rest, head off to the glass-domed Winter Garden atrium on the 9th floor for a snack and stunning views!

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Marquette Building Chicago

Marquette Building  Chicago

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Address: 56 W Adams St, Chicago, IL 60604

A Chicago building that is steeped in history and will thrill the eye is the Marquette Building, built in 1895. It was designed by architects Holabird & Roche and was one of the first steel-frame skyscrapers built in Chicago. The design is characterized by the long horizontal bay windows, which are a combination of large panes flanked by narrow sash windows. The outer facade is decorated with wave-like moldings of terracotta which was originally red and has darkened to a deep brown over the years.

The building is built around a center light court lobby which is world famous for its exquisite mosaic work. The collection honors Jacques Marquette, who founded Michigan's first European settlement. Four bas relief panels over the main entrance showcase different scenes from his trip through the Great Lakes region and his burial. The huge revolving doors feature carvings of the heads of panthers and a railing around the atrium is decorated with a frieze by the Tiffany Studio containing Tiffany glass, semi-precious stones and mother-of-pearl.

The stunning Marquette Chicago building is named as a National Historic Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Marquette Building originally housed railroad companies and today it offers offices for a variety of businesses.

Photo by DPyle


Prairie Avenue Historic District

Prairie Avenue Historic District  Chicago

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Address: 1800 and 1900 blocks of South Prairie Avenue and the 1800 block of South Indiana, and 211-217 East Cullerton.

Stroll around the Prairie Avenue Historic District and soak up the ambiance of fabulous Chicago buildings. This area was originally the site of the Battle of Fort Dearborn where a famous cottonwood tree stood as a memorial and was later replaced by a bronze statue. After the Great Fire in 1871, this region became home to wealthy movers and shakers who built massive homes giving it the name Millionaire's Row.

The district is located in the Near South Side and covers two blocks of South Prairie Avenue, one block of South Indiana, and sections of East Cullerton.

Take a tour through the John J. Glessner House, designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1885, it has been restored as an historic House Museum and is open for public tours. Then visit the Central Station and Museum Park, Motor Row and the South Michigan Ave Corridor. The Prairie Avenue Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1979.

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Tribune Tower

chicago Tribune Bulding

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Address: 435 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

A fascinating building is the next Chicago attraction to visit. Tribune Tower Chicago building contains small pieces of famous buildings collected from around the world. Be awed to discover that pieces of the Great Pyramid, the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon and the Great Wall of China are embedded in the lower structures. Today the building is home to the iconic Chicago Tribune, media studios and radio stations. The design of the building won an award for the best office building. It stands at 462 feet high and features a neo-Gothic style. Notice the top of the tower which was designed after the Butter Tower of the Rouen Cathedral in France.

NBC Tower Chicago Building

NBC Tower Chicago

Address:455 N Cityfront Plaza Dr, Chicago, IL 60611

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There is no shortage of stunning Chicago buildings in this city and the next one to explore is NBC Tower!

This office block is located at 454 North Columbus Drive but also uses the show-off address of 455 North Cityfront Plaza. This is one of the more modern skyscrapers, completed in 1989. It has 37 stories and a height of 627 feet. The building creates a fabulous scene with flying buttresses and modern vertical lines. Inspired by a streamlined form of Art Deco, known as Art Moderne, this towering beauty will thrill! The architect was Adrian Smith who was inspired by the Rockefeller Plaza in New York. He also designed the lamp posts on the sidewalks that surround the building to blend in with the overall look.

Before the erection of the NBC Tower, this piece of land was home to a sugar refinery, vacant lots and a few warehouses. The exterior spandrels of the NBC Tower Chicago Building feature a dark green color created from colored concrete that matches with the dark green marble used on the base. Detailed grille-work in brass features around the entrances. An illuminated peacock stands at the top of the tower and was first switched on by NBC president Bob Wright. Four floors of the building are dedicated to radio and television broadcasting and famous shows like the Jenny Jones Show and the Jerry Springer Show are filmed here.

Photo by Jeffrey Zeldman


Marina Towers Chicago

Marina City Towers Chicago

Address:290 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

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Still want to explore more Chicago buildings? Head downtown to the north bank of the Chicago River and lookout for the two massive corncobs! Marina City is a twin complex that houses both commercial and residential tenants in a unique structure that stands 587 feet high with 65 stories. The building was designed by Bertrand Goldberg and was the first building in the USA to be constructed using tower cranes. The two buildings are identical in design and feature an exposed parking ramp on the lower 19 floors with 896 bays per building.

The Marina Towers Chicago buldings stand on a raised platform above the river and a small marina housing water crafts underneath the platform give it the name Marina City. Inside, the apartments features no right angles, everything is formed by triangular wedges and semi-circular shapes. Each wedge ends in a balcony, giving every single bedroom and living room a spectacular view over the river.

If you have a head for heights, the lifts take a mere 35 seconds to travel from the lower lobby to the roof decks on the 61st floor! This building was awarded a prize by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1965 for its innovative design.

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Merchandise Mart Chicago

Merchandise Mart Chicago

Address:222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 60654, Chicago, Illinois

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A Chicago building that is so large it has its own Zip Code will delight explorers! Merchandise Mart or theMART is the world's largest commercial building and is located in the Near North Side at the junction of the branches of the Chicago River. The building offers over 4 million feet of floor space and hosts the world's most famous interior design and luxury home living showrooms.

It was built by Marshall Field & Co. and was owned by the Kennedy family for more than 50 years. The designer, Alfred Shaw was influenced by Art Deco style which he incorporated into three very different types of buildings, a warehouse, a department store and the skyscraper.

The warehouse section forms the bulk and stands 18 stories tall. The department store section is open to the street with bronzed framed display windows. The central tower is 25 stories high and rises up as a skyscraper adorned with recessed portals and medallions featuring the logo of Merchandise Mart.

Look out for the 7 foot tall, 56 Indian Chiefs that circle the crown of the Tower. They stand as a reference to the history of the site and the early trade culture of Chicago.

Inside the lobby of the Merchandise Mart Chicago building, you will find a stunning orange and green terrazzo floor with a pattern of stripes and squares inlaid with the same Mart initials. A frieze of 17 murals by Jules Guerin illustrates commerce around the world, depicting industries and products, transportation and the architecture of different countries. When you are done visit the Merchandise Mart Hall of Fame which features life-size bronze busts of iconic American merchants like Frank Winfield Woolworth.


333 West Wacker Drive Building Chicago

333 West Wacker building Chicago

Address:333 Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois

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Get out your cameras for pictures of another fabulous Chicago building! 33 West Wacker street took 5 years to complete with construction starting in 1979. It was built by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and cost 100 million Dollars. This magnificent skyscraper stands at 487 feet high and has 36 stories.

Be awed by the massive blue-green glass front that reflects the surrounding buildings and the Chicago River. At sunset, it turns a fiery orange and red! The front of the building is a curved sweeping arc that was designed to blend in with the layout of the land which curves along the banks of the river. The back of the structure is straight angular lines, keeping to the street grid design of the city. This is achieved with an innovative parallelogram construction. At the top of the building this design becomes noticeable when the rounded front melds with the square back for a height of six floors creating sharp angles that house prestigious sought-after office space with corner windows!

The base of the 333 West Wacker Chicago building is crafted in the shape of an X and is made from Vermont granite and marble. Raised up, it gives the illusion of the structure hovering above the city streets. After its completion in 1984, the building earned the Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects and went on to take more coveted awards in the 1990's. Movie lovers will be enchanted to know that it featured in a number of films including The Truman Show and Batman Begins.


Montgomery Ward Complex

Montgomery Ward Complex Chicago

Address:618 W. Chicago Avenue in Near North Side, Chicago, Illinois

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While you are exploring along the River, the next fascinating Chicago building you will come across is the Montgomery Ward Complex. This building was originally home to Montgomery Ward, the oldest mail order company in the USA. It was designed by Richard Schmidt and Hugh Garden of the architectural firm Schmidt, Garden and Martin.

This low-slung design is 8 stories high and covers over 400,000 square feet, located on the banks of the river. It is constructed from reinforced concrete and features vertical piers that rise upwards with a 4 story tower that was added later. On top of the Tower you will see the famous Spirit of Progress, a 22 foot high statue of the Goddess Diana. She wears flowing robes, stands on a globe and holds a caduceus in her left hand and a torch in her right hand.

A second building of the Montgomery Ward Complex known as the Mail Order House or Catalog House is located north of the main building, forming part of the complex. This white painted structure was completed in 1908 and had a classic flat roof. The interior housed miles of conveyors, chutes and lofts for storage. It also had a shipping platform that could accommodate 24 rail road freight cars.

Today you will see additions to the Montgomery Ward Complex Chicago building which include a 26 story office block designed by world renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki, of former World Trade Center Towers fame. The original building has been converted into high-class condominiums now known as The Montgomery. Stop off at the Big Ten Network restaurant for a delicious meal!

Photo by Fifth World Design


Civic Opera Chicago Building

Civic Opera Building Chicago

Address:20 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

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Opera lovers will be charmed by the next Chicago building, the Civic Opera Building! Designated a Chicago landmark in 1998, the structure is located at 20 North Wacker Drive. It features a 45 story office tower and the Civic Opera House with 3563 seats. This auditorium is the second largest in the USA and is the home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The building was masterminded by Samuel Insull who had a vision for an opera house with five requirements, safety, comfortable seating, excellent sight lines, gracious surroundings and premium acoustics. The building is shaped like a massive chair and is locally known as Insull's Throne! The architecture firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White were chosen for the project.

The Civic Opera Chicago building was constructed from limestone and was completed in 22 months. A main feature is the colonnaded portico that runs the entire length of the building. On the south side, huge bronze doors open onto the grand foyer which offers scintillating Austrian crystal chandeliers and detailed stencilled ceilings. The floor is made of pink and gray Tennessee marble and fluted columns and pilasters in Roman style add to the ambiance. The columns are 40 feet high and are topped with carved initials decorated in gold leaf.

The style of the decor is a combination of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Musical instruments are located as ornaments around the venue and the comedy-tragedy masks were inspired by the Paris Opera House. Most famous is the fire curtain, painted with the parade scene from the Opera Aida.

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River City Chicago

River City Chicago

Address:800 S Wells St, Chicago, IL 60607

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If you are now becoming an expert on Chicago buildings, you will notice that River City looks a lot like Marina City. That is because it features the same designer, Bertrand Goldberg! The building is located at 800 South Wells Street and was completed in 1986.

The structure features an unusual curvaceous S-shape and is a mixed-use building consisting of residential apartments, commercial space, parking, a conference center, a health-club and high-class restaurants. Located on the river, it offers fabulous views and also has a marina for private boats. The apartments don't have balconies like Marina City but feature clerestories on their inner side to gain light from the interior atrium which is filled with skylights.

The original design of River City Chicago buildings envisioned a much larger project but Goldberg was unable to secure the necessary funds and the full scope of the design never came to fruition.

Photo by S. N. Johnson-Roehr (JR)


Carbide & Carbon Building

Carbide & Carbon Building Chicago

Address: 230 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60601

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Strolling along the streets of the City, you are bound to be thrilled by a Chicago building inspired by a Champagne bottle! The Carbide & Carbon Building drips with gold leaf, resembling vintage bubbly foaming and spilling down the sides of a bottle. This amazing skyscraper is named as one of the top 40 buildings in Chicago. It was completed in 1929 and was designed by the Burnham Brothers. Renovations took place between 2001 and 2004 at a cost of 106 million Dollars. The building stands 503 feet high, with a spire height of 50 feet and features 40 stories.

The most eye-catching feature of the Carbide & Carbon Chicago building is the green color of the tinted terracotta that was used in the construction and the black granite faade adds to the fabulous look. Massive amounts of gold leaf was used to adorn the building from head to toe. The gold leaf is real gold, imitation gold was considered but the idea was rejected. So this magnificent structure drips in a myriad of super thin slivers of 24-karat gold leaf. The gold leaf covers the entire spire, the edges of the building, it drapes the shoulders of the upper levels and continues all the way down to the street level.

This ostentatious design was welcomed in the roaring 20's! After that the depression struck and buildings became far more sober. The structure is located at 230 North Michigan Avenue and is an example of Art Deco architectural style. Originally built as an office tower, today it houses the famous Hard Rock Hotel.

Photo by Ken Lund


Auditorium Building Chicago

Auditorium Building Chicago

Address:430 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, Illinois

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Another beautiful Chicago building that will enthral ballet and theatre lovers is the Auditorium Building, that houses Roosevelt University and The Auditorium Theatre. Built in 1888, it is one of Chicago's architectural masterpieces. The building is located on the north west corner of Michigan and Congress and is combination of Dankmar Adler's engineering and the architectural brilliance of Louis Sullivan. The building was the vision of Ferdinand Peck who wanted to bring a world class opera and theatre venue to the city. In 1890, an hotel and office block was added to make it more economically viable.

Due to the soft clay texture of the soil, the building features an innovative huge raft foundation in place of the usual conventional foundations. This floating mat was constructed from railroad ties that were criss-crossed and covered with a double layer of steel rails embedded into concrete and then overlaid with pitch. Despite this clever design the building has settled over the years and a drop of about 29 inches can be seen in the lobby where the floors slope downwards!

The exterior of the Auditorium Chicago building was originally terracotta but was later changed to stone. It features huge arches leading onto the street and opening into a grandiose lobby and theatre inside. Inside the building is a beautiful auditorium with 4300 seats. The interior decorations were done by Sullivan and feature motifs inspired by European Art Nouveau architecture. Make sure you take in a show at this stunning venue before you head off home!

Photo by Teemu008


Inland Steel Building

Inland Steel Building Chicago

Address:30 W. Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois

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Nestling amongst a host of Chicago buildings is the iconic Inland Steel Building that cannot be missed on your travels around the city. It is elegant and sleek and although it does not tower above the others, it offers a stunning example of architecture and style from the 1950's. Located at 30 West Monroe Street it was one of the first modern style buildings to rise up in the Loop. Built to accommodate Inland Steel, it had to showcase the products and success of this large steel producer. The architects Skidmore Owings & Merrill were commissioned for the job. Drawing inspiration from Mies van der Rohe and his Crown Hall, it used steel and glass with no bricks or stone to stay true to the minimalist concept of 'Less is More'.

This design offers dark bronze brushed stainless steel as cladding and blue-green glass, creating a stunning effect. The foundation was the first to use 85 foot deep steel pilings and the building was the first high-rise to offer indoor parking underground.

Stroll through the lobby and admire the beautiful terrazzo floors and black marble walls! Look out for the sculpture of gold, stainless steel and enamelled copper by Richard Lippold which is entitled Radiant One. The Inland Steel Chicago building building was designated as a Chicago landmark in 1998.

Photo by 900hp


35 East Wacker Chicago Building

35 East Wacker Chicago

Address:35 E. Wacker Drive Chicago, Illinois

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Can you imagine driving your car into a massive elevator and being transported up to the 22nd floor where your office is located? This is what happened in an amazing Chicago building known originally as the Jewelers Building! Built for the diamond industry, merchants carrying loads of precious stones and expensive metals would not have to walk along corridors and up stairwells, running the risk of being mugged on the way from the car park to the office. Although this auto lift was abandoned to make way for more office space, it remains as a true historical anecdote!

Construction on 35 East Wacker started in 1924 and took 2 years to complete. It was designed by Thielbar & Furgard and Giaver & Dinkleberg and stands 40 stories high at 522 feet. The design was inspired by a combination of Roman, Greek and Gothic architecture with a massive dome on top, spires, copulas and arched windows. The huge dome was originally a restaurant called the Stratosphere Lounge and was supposedly run by Al Capone as a speakeasy.

The exterior of the 35 East Wacker Chicago Building is clad in terracotta and still features the letters JB, for Jewelers Building, etched into the facade. Take note of the four turrets at the corners of the building, they were originally part of a fire prevention system, each holding a massive cast iron tank filled with water. Kids will love the spooky clock on the Wacker Drive side, It is surrounded by blood red lights and features a statue of Father Time holding a macabre scythe!

Photo by Joseph Kranak


Lake Point Tower Chicago Building

Lake Point Tower Chicago

Address:505 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611

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Towering above Lake Michigan is the most magnificent Chicago building, the Lake Point Tower. All glass and steel with curvaceous lines, this building makes a picture-perfect sight! Located at 505 North Lake Shore Drive, in the Streeterville neighborhood, it offers luxurious and exclusive residential apartments with panoramic views. It is the only skyscraper in this area, making it all the more stunning to look at.

The design was inspired by a 1922 design created by Mies van der Rohe. Extending outwards from a central core are three arms that form a Y-shape. Each arm stands at an angle of 120 degrees apart, the whole then forming a full circle. It is interesting to note that the original plan had four arms! The central core is 59 feet wide and contains 3 stairwells and 9 elevators. This innovative curved design prevents residents from seeing one another when they look out of their windows.

The facade of the Lake Point Tower Chicago Building is bronze-tinted glass outlined by gold-anodized aluminum, a combination that turns the building gold when the sun reflects off the water of the Lake. Residents living here experience a luxurious lifestyle with an indoor and outdoor pool, an on-site spa, dentist, restaurant, grocery store, a wooded park with a playground for children and a barbecue area for relaxation.

This famous building has been featured in many block-buster movies including Raw Deal, Straight Talk and Divergent.

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Monadnock Building

Monadnock Building Chicago

Address:53 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604

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Geology enthusiasts will be interested to discover that a Chicago building is named after a hill that rises up from the surrounding landscape. This feature is known as a Monadnock and comes from an Indian word. Hence the Monadnock Building, located at 53 West Jackson Boulevard!

Construction on this building started in 1889 and was completed in 1891. The designers were Burnham & Root and the building was renovated in 1893 by Holabird & Roche. Rising up like a Monadnock, it stands 197 feet high and has 17 stories.

The structure was unique in its time, having no steel re-enforcements and is supported by 6 foot thick walls at the base made entirely of brick with a foundation that extends 11 feet below ground level. It was the tallest load-bearing building ever constructed and was also the first to feature structural use of aluminum in the design. This building was renovated in 1938 and was one of the largest renovations undertaken. It heralded in a new era of restoring rather than demolishing the iconic skyscrapers.

Lovers of architecture must notice the plain mass of purple-brown brick on the north half with a design that flares out at the top and at the base. The southern half of the Monadnock Chicago building rises up to a large cornice at the top made of copper. Large glass panels give the building an open and airy look despite its huge heavy mass. In 2010, the building was named as one of the Top 40 Buildings in Chicago.

Photo by Beth Walsh


Reliance Building

Reliance Building Chicago

Address:1 W. Washington St., Chicago, Illinois

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The next fabulous venue to take note of is the Reliance Building located at 1 West Washington Street in the Loop Community Area. Currently it houses Hotel Burnham. Like most famous Chicago buildings, it has a story to tell! In the 1880's when the developer wanted to build on the selected site, there was already a building standing there. The tenants refused to move and the builders raised up the 2nd to 4th floors of the existing building, and literally started construction underneath them while they remained living in their homes!

The 1st floor and basement were designed by John Root of the Burnham and Root architectural firm in 1890, and the remainder of the building was completed by Charles Atwood in 1895. It was the first skyscraper to sport massive glass windows as a feature of its surface area, setting the scene for things to come. Once the tenant's leases reached expiry, the top floors were redesigned as rooms for medical facilities, offering large amounts of natural light and a clean white terracotta exterior.

The Reliance Chicago building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Photo by Katie Hughes

S. R. Crown Hall

S. R. Crown Hall  Chicago

Address:3360 S. State Street

When you have had enough of skyscraper-style Chicago buildings, set off to view S.R. Crown Hall! This simple and elegant structure is a delight of steel and glass designed by the renowned German architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

It stands in the Illinois Institute of Technology campus and houses the College of Architecture. The building was completed in 1956 and stays true to the designers words that 'Less is More'. Huge glass panels define the exterior with green grassy lawns around as a natural contrast.

The design offers a two-level building constructed as a rectangle of 220 feet tall, 120 feet wide and 18 feet tall. The inside has no columns and the space is contained by four 6 feet steel girders which also support the roof. This minimalist style was deemed by the designer to be 'A Universal Space' allowing natural light to flow in and offering uncluttered views of the sky day and night.

In 2001, S.R. Crown Hall Chicago building was named a National Historic Landmark and became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Renovations in 2005 saw the original Detroit graphite lead paint being replaced by a lead-free black Urethane coating and sandblasted glass panes being installed in the lower sections.

The mighty Google honoured the 126th birthday of Mies van der Rohe by featuring a doodle of Crown Hall!

Photo by webercw


Crain Communications Building

Crain Communications Building Chicago

Address:150 N. Michigan Av. Chicago, Illinois

Like a huge diamond reaching into the sky, the next Chicago building to mesmerise you is the Crain Communications Building! This stunning angular structure has a gleaming white exterior of stone interspersed with horizontal black stripes of glass windows.

Designed by Epstein and Sons, the construction began in 1983 and took a year to complete. The Crain Communications Chicago building stands at 575 feet tall and has 41 stories. It was originally called the Smurfit-Stone building after its initial tenants but later changed its name when they moved out.

The awe-inspiring design has the building cut on an angle and is made up of two almost identical triangles, formed to create a massive diamond shape towering upwards. From afar it gives the impression of a skyscraper cut down the middle with a knife! The building is located at 150 North Michigan Avenue and overlooks Lake Michigan offering stunning views from inside.

Like all fascinating buildings in Chicago it has a few interesting facts. It was built on the original site of the John Crerar Library. It featured in the movie Adventures in Babysitting and was used in the computer game SimCity 4 and was destroyed in the film Transformers, Dark of the Moon.

Photo by Howard Lifshitz

Map of Famous Buildings in Chicago

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