Downtown Chicago is known for its world class architecture and was rated the Best Big City by Conde Nast, for the 2nd time. Here are a few iconic must-see buildings near downtown.
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At 4 million square feet, Merchandise Mart is so large that it even has its own zip code! Although Merchandise Mart was built in the 1930s, today it is home to many cutting-edge technology companies, including the start-up incubator, 1871. Merchandise Mart tenants love the convenience of having direct access to the CTA brown and purple line trains…as well as an awesome food court!
The Chicago Loop Alliance also launched, Art on theMart, where iconic art work is projected onto the 2.5 acres of Merchandise Mart’s exterior. See the video below!
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The Willis Tower, still often referred to as the Sears Tower by locals, was completed in 1973 and at 1729 feet to the tip of its antenna, held the title of the world’s tallest building for many years. The Willis Tower is currently undergoing a $500 million renovation that will include an expansion of the Skydeck, a popular tourist attraction that allows visitors to see unparalleled views of Chicago and the surrounding area.
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The Aon Center was completed in 1973 and originally known as the Standard Oil Building. The facade was originally wrapped in Italian marbled, rumored to cost more to import than the marble, itself cost. However, when the marble began to deteriorate and break off it was deemed structurally unsafe. Today the Aon Center is clad in white granite.
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This Neo-Gothic skyscraper was designed by John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood and won a competition held by the Chicago Tribune newspaper in 1922. The Tribune Tower’s exterior includes fragments of other iconic buildings around the world including Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Pyramids. The building was purchased by CIM Group and Chicago based Golub & Co in August of 2016.
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The Rookery Building
The Rookery Building, one of the oldest downtown buildings in Chicago, was designed in the 1880s by the prolific Burnham & Root architecture firm. The lobby was renovated by the legendary architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1905. The Rookery Building is known for its grand spiral staircase and glassy atrium.
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Like The Rookery Building, the Thompson Center is known for its glassy atrium and eye-catching lobby. This postmodern building was designed in 1985 by Helmut Jahn and is home to many local and state government offices, direct access to the CTA blue, brown, orange, green, and purple line trains.
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By Sophie Morrison