Chicago, the city that invented the skyscraper and whose central business district is a living museum of the history of tall buildings drawing visitors from all over the world, is on the verge of losing two historic early twentieth century office towers. The two towers were designed by architects renowned for advancing skyscraper design are imperiled because federal employees don’t feel safe with neighboring office towers just across an alley from the own skyscraper.
Lee Bey writes in the Chicago Sun-Times : U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill, last month earmarked $52 million for the GSA to demolish the terra-cotta clad towers [the Century Building and the Consumers Building] and two small buildings between them, replacing the ensemble with a safety buffer to protect the Dirksen Federal Building, which is located a block west on Dearborn Street. The GSA owns the buildings and has been seeking the demolition since 2019, about two years after then-U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ruben Castillo told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin his concerns that Century and Consumers sat close to the Dirksen’s eastern side. But is this reason enough send the towers to a landfill — when the federal center is surrounded by buildings and through-streets? The Consumers Building (left) and The Century Building (right)
Photo credit: PreservationChicago.org
Demolishing the two artifacts from the beginnings of skyscrapers would destroy the wall of buildings along State Street, rob the street of retail activity, and leave a windy plaza, as always happens when a tall building as adjoined by an open space – especially in the Windy City.
Preservation Chicago writes: These two remarkable buildings, the 16-story Century Building by Holabird & Roche (1915) and the 22-story Consumers Building by Jenney, Mundie & Jensen (1913), were once principally occupied by small businesses, attorney offices and showrooms. Due to the […]
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