The Crain Communications Building in Chicago

Photo of The Crain Communications Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of The Crain Communications Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of The Crain Communications Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of The Crain Communications Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of The Crain Communications Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of The Crain Communications Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of The Crain Communications Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of The Crain Communications Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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The Crain Communications Building
Also known as:Diamond Building
Formerly:150 North Michigan Avenue
Formerly:Smurfit-Stone Building
Formerly:Stone Container Building
Formerly:Associates Center

150 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60601
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One of Chicago's signature skyscrapers, what the Smurfit-Stone building lacks in height, it more than makes up for in style. Its gleaming white exterior is accented with dark pinstripes of windows. Its orientation embraces Lake Michigan just a few hundred yards away, while at the same time it's characteristic slanted roof mimics, mocks, or yearns to be part of the sailboat crowd in the nearby Chicago Harbor. The Citicorp Center in New York and other skyscrapers have experimented with slanted roofs. What makes the Smurfit-Stone building special is the orientation of the slant. The architects didn't merely take a square and cut a wedge out of it like a children's block. They cut it on an angle, using a simple subtractive motion to create a diamond shape in the sky. Closer examination reveals that it isn't even a simple diamond, but rather two nearly identical triangles, but that is a detail lost on most observers. What they delight in is the notion that the building is still not done inventing itself. That it is growing with a leading angle like a massive lily sprouting on the lakeshore. Others fail to see the beauty and whimsy intrinsic to this building. Instead, they see it as an affront to the other classic Chicago architecture on Michigan Avenue. But if not for those buildings that stand out, would not the Avenue's marble cliff seem that much more ordinary and under appreciated?

Quick Facts
Statistics
  • Rentable floor space: 625,205 square feet.
Timeline
  • 2010: This building's name was changed from Smurfit-Stone Building to 150 North Michigan Avenue.
  • 2011: Smurfit-Stone moved out of this building after being bought by a company in Georgia.
  • March, 2012: The building name was changed to Crain Communications Building.
Notes
  • The building that used to be on this site was the John Crerar Library. The 14-story building was erected in 1920 and designed by Holabird and Roche.
  • One of the bogus "facts" sometimes presented by Chicago tour guides is that this building's sloping roof was designed to keep it's shadow from falling on a beach. This is incorrect. There isn't a beach anywhere near this building. There was a controversy over a building on Lake Shore Drive casting a shadow on the Ohio Street Beach in 2006, but that building was erected anyway with no alterations to its plan.
  • The top five floors of this building are empty and are not included in its official floor count.
Did You Know?
  • Three years after its completion, this building played a central role in the film Adventures In Babysitting.
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The Crain Communications Building in Chicago.  Photo by john kovacich
Photo by john kovacich