Top Ten Essential Architecture top ten Chicago buildings  
     
  For a more complete list, see Chicago  
1 Sears Tower  

architect

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

location

233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606.

date

1974-76

style

Modern

construction

steel frame, curtain wall. Sears Tower was the world's tallest building from 1973 to 1998.

type

Office Building

Sears Tower is the tallest building in North America. The building is constructed of nine 75-foot-square tubes of welded steel that extend 50 and 108 stories high. Floors are suspended within the tubes. Engineer Fazlur R. Kahn devised this structural solution specifically for the project. The steel-frame building is clad in black aluminum and bronze-toned glass.

The Sears Tower is a skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. It has been the tallest building in the United States since 1973, surpassing the World Trade Center, which itself had surpassed the Empire State Building only a year earlier. Commissioned by Sears, Roebuck and Company, it was designed by chief architect Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Khan of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

Construction commenced in August 1970 and the building reached its originally anticipated maximum height on May 3, 1973. When completed, the Sears Tower had overtaken the roof of the World Trade Center in New York City as the world's tallest building. The tower has 108 stories as counted by standard methods, though the building owners count the main roof as 109 and the mechanical penthouse roof as 110. The distance to the roof is 1,451 feet (442 m), measured from the east entrance.
 
     
2 Tribune Tower  

architect

Raymond M. Hood and John Mead Howells

location

435 N. Michigan Ave.

date

1922-25

style

Art Deco Skyscraper Gothic 

construction

Stone cladding, steel frame

type

Office Building

This design was the result of an international competition for "the most beautiful office building in the world," held in 1922 by the Chicago Tribune newspaper. The various competition entries proved extremely influential for the development of skyscraper architecture in the 1920s. The winning entry, with a crowning tower with flying buttresses, is derived from the design of the French cathedral of Rouen and gives the building its striking silhouette. The base of the building is studded with over 120 stones from famed sites and structures in all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries. They range from the Parthenon (Greece) and Taj Mahal (India) to Bunker Hill (Massachusetts) and Mark Twain's "Injun Joe Cave" (Missouri).
 
     
3 London Guarantee  

architect

Alfred S. Alschuler

location

360 N. Michigan Ave.

date

1922-23

style

Beaux-Arts-style Classical Revival

construction

Stone clad

type

Office Building

The London Guarantee Building is a historic building located in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. It is known as one of the four 1920s flanks of the Michigan Avenue Bridge (along with the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and 333 North Michigan Avenue). It sits on part of the former site of Fort Dearborn. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on April 16, 1996.[1] The top of the building resembles the Choragic Monument in Athens, but it is supposedly modelled after the Stockholm Stadshus.[2] It is located on the short quarter mile stretch of Michigan Avenue between the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District and the Magnificent Mile.
One of the city's few and best examples of the Beaux Arts-style Classical Revival applied to the design of a tall office building. It is one of four structures that were constructed around the Michigan Avenue Bridge during the 1920s, a cluster of buildings that has helped define one of Chicago's most dramatic and important urban spaces. The other three buildings are 333 North Michigan Building , Tribune Tower, and the Wrigley Building. Built by a British insurance company to be its American headquarters, the building's irregular-shaped site was part of the land once occupied by Fort Dearborn (1803-56).
 
     
4 333 North Michigan Building  

architect

Holabird & Roche/Holabird & Root

location

333 N. Michigan Ave.

date

1928

style

Art Deco 

construction

The building's base is sheathed in polished granite, in shades of black and purple. Its upper stories, which are set back in dramatic fashion to correspond to the city's 1923 zoning ordinance, are clad in buff-colored limestone and dark terra cotta.

type

Office Building

333 North Michigan is an art deco skyscraper located in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois in the United States. Architecturally, it is noted for its dramatic upper-level setbacks that were inspired by the 1923 skyscraper zoning laws. Geographically, it is known as one of the four 1920s flanks of the Michigan Avenue Bridge (along with the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and the London Guarantee Building).[1]

Additionally, it is known as the geographic beneficiary of the jog in Michigan Avenue, which makes it visible along the Magnificent Mile as the building that seems to be in the middle of the road at the foot of this stretch of road (pictured at left).[1][2] The building was designed by Holabird & Roche/Holabird & Root and completed in 1928.[1] It is 396 feet (120.7 m) tall, and has 34 storeys.

It was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 7, 1997.[1] It is located on the short quarter mile stretch of Michigan Avenue between the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District and the Magnificent Mile.
 
     
5 John Hancock Center  

architect

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

location

875 N. Michigan Avenue Chicago, USA

date

1966-68

style

Modern structural expressionist

construction

Floor count 100
Floor area 853,432 ft² (260,126 m²)
Elevator count 50
Height
Antenna/Spire 1,500 ft (457 m)
Roof 1,127 ft (344 m)
Top floor 1,078 ft (329 m)

type

Office Building

The John Hancock Center at 875 N. Michigan Ave. in Chicago, Illinois, is a 100-story, 1,127-foot (344 m) tall skyscraper designed by structural engineer Fazlur Khan of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. When completed in 1969, it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. It is the third-tallest skyscraper in Chicago and the fifth-tallest in the United States, after the Sears Tower, the Empire State Building, the Bank of America Tower (New York), and the Aon Center. When measured to the top of its antenna masts, it stands at 1,500 feet (457 m). The building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums and contains the highest residences in the world. This skyscraper was named for its builder the John Hancock Insurance company.

The 95th floor has long been home to a restaurant, the latest tenant being "The Signature Room on the 95th Floor." While patrons dine, they can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. The Hancock Center's observation facilities compete with the Sears Tower's Skydeck across town. The Hancock Center is in a commercial district, while the Sears Tower is in the financial district. The Hancock Center 94th floor observation deck displays exhibits about the city of Chicago. Maps explain the view in each direction and a special meshed-in area allows the visitors to feel the winds 1,030 feet (314 m) above ground level. The 44th-floor sky lobby features America's highest indoor swimming pool.
 
     
6 Marina City  

architect

Bertram Goldberg

location

Chicago, IL.

date

1959-64, 1965-67 (W:61-63)

style

Futuristic

construction

concrete

type

condominiums

The Marina City complex was designed in 1959 by architect Bertrand Goldberg and completed in 1964 at a cost of $36 million financed to a large extent by the union of building janitors and elevator operators, who sought to reverse the pattern of "white flight" from the city's downtown area. When finished, the two towers were both the tallest residential buildings and the tallest reinforced concrete structures in the world. The complex was billed as a "city within a city", featuring numerous on-site facilities including a theatre, gym, swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley, several stores and restaurants, and of course, a marina.

Marina City was the first urban post-war high-rise residential complex in the United States and is widely credited with beginning the residential renaissance of American inner cities. Its model of mixed residential and office uses and high-rise towers with a base of parking has become a primary model for urban development in the United States, and has been widely copied throughout downtown Chicago.
 
     
7 35 East Wacker Drive Building  

architect

Giaver & Dinkelberg

location

35 E. Wacker Dr.

date

1925-27

style

Beaux-Arts City Beautiful Movement

construction

Stone clad

type

Office Building

This 40-story building was the tallest outside of New York City at the time of its construction. Designed as the "Jeweler's Building," it originally housed a parking garage on the second through 22d floors. The building's terra cotta-clad, classical design marks it as one of the most prominent high-rise statements of the so-called City Beautiful Movement. It is also the most notable work of the partnership of Joachim Giaver and Frederick Dinkelberg, who had spent most of their architectural careers with the firm of Daniel Burnham & Company.
 
     
8 Monadnock Block  

architect

Burnham and Root ; Holabird & Roche

location

53 W. Jackson Blvd.

date

North half 1889-91; south half 1891-93

style

Chicago School 

construction

The two halves of this building provide a unique perspective for examining the history and development of modern architecture. The north part--famed for its lack of traditional ornamentation--is a masonry, wall-bearing structure, the last skyscraper to employ this method of construction, with six-foot thick walls at the base. The south addition, on the other hand, is an early example of steel-frame construction, its underlying structure revealed through narrow piers and wide windows. Together, they mark the end of one building tradition and the beginning of another.

type

Office Building

The Monadnock Building is a historic proto-skyscraper in the Loop district of downtown Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the tallest masonry load-bearing wall structures in the world, however Philadelphia City Hall holds the world title.[3] It is located at 53 West Jackson Blvd.

The seventeen-story building stands 197 feet (60 meters) tall. The northern half was designed and built by Burnham & Root in 1889–1891; the southern half was designed and built by Holabird & Roche in 1891–1893. The building was designated a Chicago Landmark on November 14, 1973.

The northern half of the Monadnock represents the last Chicago skyscraper built using load-bearing wall construction; in order for the structure to support its own weight, the walls at the base of the structure are six feet (1.83 meters) thick. The building was so heavy that it sank into the ground after it was built, requiring steps to be installed at the entrances. The walls then curve in slightly at the second story, and flare out at the top of the building, lending it a form similar to that of an Egyptian pylon. Architect John Root's initial plans for the building included additional Egyptian embellishment, but the developer insisted that the building have no ornament.

The southern half of the building was built using the more technologically advanced steel frame construction, which allowed narrower piers and wider windows. The radical difference in construction between the two halves marks the building's place in architectural history at the end of one building tradition and the beginning of another.

The building's name is taken from the New Hampshire mountain that gave its name to the geological term indicating a freestanding mountain surrounded by a plain.
 
     
9 Mather Tower  

architect

Herbert Hugh Riddle

location

75 E. Wacker Dr.

date

1928

style

Skyscraper Gothic Art Deco

construction

Clad in Gothic-inspired terra cotta

type

Office Building

Mather Tower is a building located in Chicago, Illinois at 75 East Wacker Drive, in Chicago's downtown. Completed in 1928, the 41-story building rises 521 feet. The slender, octagonally-shaped upper section of the building has the smallest floors of any of Chicago's skyscrapers.

Mather Tower was designed by architect Herbert Hugh Riddle to serve as the headquarters for the Mather Stock Car Company, which manufactured rail cars, especially for transporting livestock. The company's founder, Alonzo C. Mather, originally intended to build an identical skyscraper next to Mather Tower, but when the stock market crashed, plans for the second building were scrapped.

In 2000 the four-story crown was demolished for safety reasons after pieces of terra cotta fell from the facade. A replacement was installed by helicopter on the weekend of November 23-24, 2002 from a barge on the Chicago River.

The octagonal upper stories are now a private, members-only hotel (Club Quarters), with office space below. In 2006, the renovated building received a National Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
 
     
10 Palmolive Building Playboy Building  

architect

Holabird & Roche

location

919 N. Michigan Avenue

date

1927-29

style

Art Deco

construction

steel frame

type

Office Building

Built for one of the world's leading soap manufacturers, this office building ("a monument to cleanliness") was the first commercial skyscraper built far from the Loop - at the northern end of Michigan Avenue. It is one of the country's premier Art Deco-style "set-back" skyscrapers, the design of which were influenced by municipal zoning laws and the dramatic renderings of New York architect Hugh Ferris. The building was designed by one of Chicago's oldest and most prestigious architectural firms, whose other significant buildings include the 333 North Michigan Building, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the former Chicago Daily News Building. A navigational beacon operated atop the building from 1930-1981. It was known as the Playboy Building from 1965 to 1989, when it served as headquarters for Playboy magazine.