WIN: Chicago Tribune Building to Be Converted to Residential

The Chicago Tribune Tower, located at 435 N. Michigan Avenue, is being converted into 165 residential condos with lower floor retail. This highly visible and beloved neo-Gothic skyscraper was the winning entry in a widely followed international architectural design competition. Completed in 1925, Tribune Tower has partial Chicago Landmark status which protects most of the tower exterior and main interior lobby. Solomon Cordwell Buenz is the project architect for the historic building conversion. However, two interior demolition permits were released since October 2017, so little of the historic interiors are expected to survive.

As reported by Jay Koziarz in Curbed Chicago, “Care is being taken to ensure that key historic elements of the property are retained and remain accessible to the public. It is understood that the building’s facade which is embedded with pieces of famous buildings will remain more or less intact. Some of the architectural artifacts could be relocated to other parts of the building under the redevelopment plan. Talks are underway to ensure that the tower’s landmarked lobby space will be open to the public at certain times. There are also ongoing discussions regarding the fate of Col. Robert McCormick historic 24th floor office which may be dismantled and donated to an off-site museum.” (Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 1/25/18)

In addition to the Tribune Tower, the site includes three low-rise structures that have no landmark protection, including the four-story WGN Radio Building, the 11-story WGN TV Building, and the Printing Plant. However, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly confirmed that they are likely to be preserved under the redevelopment plan.

As reported in the Chicago Tribune, “the future of the Chicago Tribune sign, which spells out the newspaper’s name in large Gothic letters on the south side of the old printing plant, remains under discussion, according to Reilly and another source. The developers have expressed a desire to remove the sign, but the Emanuel administration is hesitant, noting that the sign has a historic tie to the building, one course said. Reilly said what happens to the sign will be subject to negotiations between his office and the developer but said it will remain on the building or “in a very public space in the city”.” (Kamin, Chicago Tribune, 1/25/18)

On the adjacent parking lot to the east of the historic building, Developers CIM Group and Golub plan to build a supertall building, designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture approximately four times as tall as the historic building. The new building would include a hotel, condos, and parking garage.

Preservation Chicago applauds Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly for helping to protect one of Chicago’s most visible buildings and part of a grand gateway to North Michigan Avenue. The international design competition captured the world’s attention, and it was home to one of the nation’s premier newspapers for almost a century. Special thanks to Mayor Emanuel for advocating to preserve the iconic Chicago Tribune sign.

Preservation Chicago would like to see all facades of the Tribune Tower protected by Chicago Landmark Designation. Additionally, we support the Chicago Landmark Designation of Nathan Hale Court and Building including the statue of Nathan Hale, the WGN Radio Building, the Chicago Tribune Printing Building fronting Pioneer Court along with its iconic sign, and the 11-story WGN TV Building/former Chicago American Newspaper Headquarters.

Additional Reading

New skyscraper rivaling Trump’s in height could rise behind a redeveloped Tribune Tower, Bill Ruthhart and Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, 1/25/18

Tribune Tower to go condo, supertall skyscraper planned for next door, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 1/25/18

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