Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago

Photo of Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Kluczynski Federal Building
Official name:John C. Kluczynski Office Tower

230 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60604
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One of Chicago's most important architectural landmarks isn't the home of some ego-centric billionaire showman, it's a federal office building complex surrounded by other architectural landmarks.

Kluczynski Federal Building is one of three building that make up the Federal Center. It was starchitect Mies van der Rhoe's last project and is considered to be the apex of his career.

In Mies van der Rhoe's unbending style, he has erected the buildings that he likes -- the ones he invented. The tall, dark, handsome towers that wear their structural elements on the outside, rather than conceal them. It's an unusual direction for a government building. No stone. No columns. No expanse of steps for the lowly serfs of the nation to climb in order to reach the halls of power. This is government corporatized, democratized, and ultimately humanized.

Unlike the Toronto Dominion Centre, Mies' earlier collection of signature buildings in Toronto, Chicago's Federal Center works well. With just three buildings, it does not feel crowded. The long, low post office building allows direct sunlight to make up for what his other two buildings are doing to the available light. And placing the other skyscraper (a courthouse) across the street allows a river of movement to enliven what would otherwise be a sterile space.

Thought it may seem counterintuitive to place a major section of an office complex across a busy street, in reality the location is far better than what people had to deal with previously. The Federal Center project was created to consolidate dozens of government offices that were previously scattered in buildings across the city.

Quick Facts
  • Stories above ground: 42
  • Stories below ground: 3
  • Floor space: 1,200,000 square feet
  • 1917: Famed Chicago mobster Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion in a courthouse formerly at this location.
  • 1959: Design work begins on this project.
  • 1960: Congress authorizes construction to begin on Federal Plaza.
  • 1965: The old United States Post Office and Courthouse is demolished to make way for this building.
  • 1966: Construction begins on this building.
  • 1974: Construction is completed.
  • 1975: This building is named in honor of congressman John C. Kluczynski.
  • May 4, 2006: The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a wild raccoon was caught on the roof of this 43-story building. It was released into a Cook County forest preserve.
  • November, 2008: Barack Obama establishes his presidential transition offices on the 38th floor of this building.
  • Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Architecture firm: Schmidt, Garden and Erikson
  • Architecture firm: C. F. Murphy Associates
  • Architecture firm: A. Epstein and Sons
  • This is the building where Illinois senators have their offices.
  • The original plan for the Federal Center called for two towers, but the post office was eventually split off into its own building.
  • The entire layout of the Federal Center and its buildings are on a 28-foot square grid.
Did You Know?
  • This was formerly the location of the United States Post Office and Courthouse, designed by Henry Ives Cobb.
  • Much of the building's exterior is painted black. If it wasn't painted, then many shiny steel and aluminum elements would be seen.
  • The architect of this building, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, died before it was completed. Gene Summers and Bruno Conterato completed it for him.
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