The Johnson Publishing office tower at 820 S. Michigan Avenue has formally entered the official Chicago Landmark designation process. Completed in 1971, this modernist 11-story mid-rise was built by “legendary African-American entrepreneur John H. Johnson, who made his fortune as the publisher of magazines including Ebony and Jet.” The building served as the headquarters for Johnson Publishing, one of the largest black-owned businesses in the nation.
The building was designed by John Warren Moutoussamy, an African American architect who became the first African American to become partner in a large architectural firm, Dubin, Dubin, Black & Moutoussamy. During his time at Illinois Institute of Technology, he studied with Mies van der Rohe. The building was the first and remains the only high-rise in downtown Chicago designed by an African American. The spectacular, exuberant, and extraordinary original interiors were created by Arthur Elrod and William Raiser.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, called the building an “epicenter of Black history and culture.”
Preservation Chicago testified on behalf of this important and significant building and is thrilled that it is being honored and celebrated with a Landmark Designation. Additionally, we worked diligently with 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King to ensure that the historic rooftop Ebony and Jet signage was retained and protected under the Landmark designation. We had also advocated for the protection of the ground floor lobby, the Richard Hunt sculpture and John H. Johnson’s upper floor office.