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
Coming to the Lincoln Park neighborhood is a massive development– Lincoln Yards. Brought to us by Chicago-based developer Sterling Bay, the sprawling 53 acres of vacant land will offer a new sub-neighborhood within Lincoln Park.
This mega-project will feature 5,000 homes, 800 foot skyscrapers and bring 23,000 new jobs to the area just north of the Chicago River. With most buildings reaching a height of 300 feet, there are plans for new “icon buildings” as well to reach even higher. Over 6,000 parking spaces will be included in the redevelopment as well.
Chicago architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Boston based CBT will combine to create the masterplan for the expansive riverfront lot. In the center of the multiple buildings being constructed is going to be serene green spaces with pathways and entrances down to the riverfront for added enjoyment.
The Lincoln Yards development will be divided into two separate spaces, known as “North Yard” and “South Yard”. The North Yard will be comprised of the majority of the plans residential and commercial spaces. The South Yard will be home to office space, retail, a Live Nation complex, and a 20,000-seat United Soccer League stadium.
The developers are adding new roads while realigning existing roadways to create seamless travel in response to the expected increase in street and foot traffic. A new ‘multimodal’ metra station will also be erected; giving connections between the trains, cyclists, CTA buses, and private shuttles.
With the inclusion of all forms of travel, focusing on new and improved roadways and adding residential and tons of commercial space Lincoln Yards will be an exciting new neighborhood that is next to some of the most highly desired areas in the city. Be sure to keep your eye out as this excited development takes shape!
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