Chase Tower in Chicago

Photo of Chase Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Chase Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Chase Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Chase Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Chase Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation

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Chase Tower
Formerly:Bank One Plaza
Formerly:First National Bank of Chicago Building

10 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60603
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One of Chicago's unsung but still beautiful skyscrapers, the JPMorgan Chase Tower stands watch as the most prominent architectural feature of the central Loop.

It's most noticeable physical aspects are the graceful slopes of its Northern and Southern flanks. They induce a bit of forced perspective and make the tower seem taller than it is, but were designed to serve a purely utilitarian function. At the time this building was erected, the bank that commissioned it needed a large contiguous floorplate at ground level to handle daily transactions while at the same time offering high-placed executives equally high offices in the tower portion of the building. The solution was a downward slope that also adds geometric interest to what would otherwise be a fairly bland brown rectangle.

It seems almost Japanese in structure, in part because of the windows set back from the concrete creating a visual moment reminiscent of a high-tech hive, and because of the "Fuji" shape that reveals itself on the mostly windowless Eastern and Western facades.

It should be no surprise, then, to lear that the building's designer was Japanese. He has designed several nearly identical buildings around the world including Tokyo and New York.

The mostly blank thin sides of the building are actually where most of the buildings services (pipes, stairwells, etc...) are located, freeing up the middle of the building for offices.

The Southern slope descends below grade level into a sunken garden with a fountain at its center. This should be a welcoming place of relief for weary Loop workers in much the same way that the sunken plaza at the John Hancock Center provides a refuge for weary shoppers, but it does not. The plaza is mostly ignored by the public, in part because it is almost entirely concrete, and lacks any greenery or water features that anyone can get near. Further, its bright color intensifies the Summer sun and turns the bowl into a parabolic cooker for anyone who stays too long.

Quick Facts
  • Rentable square feet: 1,900,000
  • November 17, 2004: A construction crane working on 7 South Dearborn crashed into the side of this building, knocking a hole in a window. Glass shattered inside the building, and a piece of the crane fell onto a car below, but no one was hurt.
  • November 20, 2005: The illuminated "Chase" logo was added to the top of the building, and it was renamed Chase Tower.
  • Architecture firm: Perkins & Will
  • Architecture firm: C.F. Murphy Associates
  • The roof that protects the Chegall mosaic in this building's sunken plaza was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. It was added in 1996
  • The sunken plaza is officially named Excelon Plaza.
  • Although other Chase Towers around the country changed their names to JPMorgan Chase Tower after the merger, this building retains its "Chase Tower" moniker.
  • This is the tallest building inside The Loop proper, defined by the CTA elevated rail loop.
Did You Know?
  • This used to be the location of the First National Bank Building, built in 1896. It was razed in 1972 to create the sunken plaza next to the Bank One Plaza.
Tourist Tips
  • The black modern-looking building next to the sunken plaza is actually the location of the cleanest McDonald's in the Loop. It also has unusually long opening hours and is even open on Sunday mornings.
Look For
  • <i>The Four Seasons</i>, a mosaic by Marc Chagall which the artist donated to the city.
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Chase Tower in Chicago.  Photo by D. Vivian
Photograph by D. Vivian