“A coalition of organizations, uniting around what they call a “sustainable vision” to save two State Street skyscrapers from the wrecking ball, plans to propose on Wednesday that they be turned into an archives center for scholarly research.
“Around 20 religious orders along with Dominican University in River Forest have expressed interest in taking space in the towers, built in the early 20th century, said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. He said nonreligious organizations, such as museums, also could join what’s being called the Chicago Collaborative Archive Center.
“The federal government owns the vacant towers, in the 200 block of South State Street, and wants them demolished, saying they pose a security risk to the neighboring Dirksen Federal Building. Advocates for saving them argue that archival storage would minimize any security threat and allow windows facing the federal building to be sealed off.
“‘A collaborative archive of this proposed size is rare in the country,’ said Christopher Allison, a historian and director of the McGreal Center at Dominican University. ‘It would become a major hub for archive-based research and would consolidate precious sources in one space.’
“Miller said the various groups would form a tax-exempt nonprofit to manage its affairs and raise money, as well as apply for grants to get the project started. But he said costs for the redevelopment are unknown. The manager of federal property, the General Services Administration, handles the buildings.
“‘I think we would really engage the GSA to be our partner,’ especially with maintaining the buildings’ terra cotta skin, Miller said. JLK Architects and the engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti have helped with the preservation plan.
“But Miller and others argue an archives center, with limited staff and tightly controlled access, represents an ideal use for the situation. They said it’s a better alternative than demolition. Taking down the buildings would leave an empty stretch on State Street, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Chicago Loop Alliance, representing downtown businesses, also prefers saving the buildings.
“‘There is strength in a collaborative archive. The value of the individual collections within such a repository are increased by the presence of the others,’ said Holly Fiedler, province archivist at Sisters of St. Francis of the Sacred Heart Province. ‘There are certainly many challenges in making this vision a reality, but we are taking actionable steps forward to achieve the ultimate goal.'” (Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 5/18/22)
Groups coalesce around plan to save State Street buildings; The proposal calls for turning them into a shared archive center, but the properties’ owner, the federal government, wants the early 20th century high-rises wrecked, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 5/18/22
Explore preservation group’s plan to save two doomed Loop towers; Federal government ought to give a proper hearing to this or any other legit, preservation-minded proposal, Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, 5/19/22
These two endangered downtown buildings look rough outside. The inside is even worse. See photos inside 202 and 220 S. State, a pair of historical towers the federal government wants to spend $52 million demolishing, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/20/22
Instead Of Demolishing Century And Consumer Buildings, Let Us Turn Them Into A National Archive Center, Preservationists Ask Feds; Preservation groups said the national archive center would meet the security guidelines of the neighboring federal courthouse while serving as a major hub for archive-based research, Melody Mercado, Block Club Chicago, 5/18/22
Preservationist places faith in plan for State Street buildings; A proposal to revive the buildings adjacent to the federal complex is being developed, with hope that it will satisfy concerns about safety, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 5/9/22
Preservationists push rescue plan for endangered State Street skyscrapers; The feds want to demolish a pair of early 20th-century Loop buildings. But preservation groups say they could be reused instead., Denis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/18/22
A federal case: U.S. government shouldn’t wreck two Loop skyscrapers in the name of safety; The buildings’ demolition would create an economic and pedestrian dead zone on State Street. And it would be a shameful waste of some really good Chicago architecture, Lee Bey, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/3/22
Loop skyscrapers must be demolished to protect safety of Dirksen federal building; I respect the interest in historic preservation. But the Dirksen Courthouse and those who work in it have been targeted before, and security vulnerabilities around the courthouse must be addressed, Sen. Dick Durbin, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/26/22
Century And Consumers Buildings, Beverly’s Pike House Top List Of Most Endangered Historic Places In Illinois; The feds plans to tear down the historic Loop buildings as part of a $52 million demolition. They’ve sat vacant for 17 years. “It’s completely ridiculous,” one Landmarks Illinois preservationist said., Melody Mercado, Block Club Chicago, 4/20/22
What’s that building? The Century and Consumers buildings; The federal government wants to demolish a pair of century-old State Street buildings — a plan preservationists are trying to stop, Dennis Rodkin, WBEZ, 3/31/22