NBC Tower in Chicago

Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of NBC Tower in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Artefaqs Corporation

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NBC Tower

454 North Columbus Drive, Chicago, Illinois, Near North Side 60611
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How can you not like a skyscraper with flying buttresses? It's the ultimate blending of historic ambitions to reach the sky, and the modern-day ability to fulfill those ambitions. Most people are amazed when they find out that Chicago's NBC Tower is a child of the 1980's. Its vertical lines, rounded edges, and tiered setbacks scream "Art Moderne" (a streamlined form of Art Deco). It's a skyscraper right out of a Dick Tracey comic.

The building's entrances are great, as well. Detailed brass grillework contrasts with the dark green marble of the base. That dark green color continues up the building with the spandrels, but those are only colored concrete, not granite. Still, the way the entire narrow edges of the front and back of the building bow outward help reinforce the ship's prow effect that the building has when seen slicing through clouds on a foggy day. With the accent floodlights on it's like a giant limestone cutter moving through the night.

Quick Facts
Statistics
  • Height to roof: 617 feet
  • Height to the tip of the spire: 757 feet
Timeline
  • October 20, 1989: The illuminated NBC peacock at the apex of the tower was lit for the first time.
  • September, 2010: This building was named #28 on Chicago Magazine's list of the Top 40 Buildings in Chicago.
Notes
  • Alternate address: 454 North Columbus Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611
  • Architect: Adrian Smith.
  • Smith also designed the lampposts on the sidewalks surrounding the tower.
  • Before Cityfront Center and this building were erected, this area was filled with vacant lots, warehouses, and even a sugar refinery as late as the mid-1980's.
  • This building was inspired by 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York.
  • WMAQ radio and television were located in the Merchandise Mart before moving into the NBC Tower in 1989.
  • The illunimated peacock at the top of the tower was first switched on by NBC president Bob Wright, at the direction of network Tom Brokaw.
  • This is the building is the home to such as The Jenny Jones Show, and the Jerry Springer Show.
  • This building has 850,000 square feet of rentable space.
  • Four floors of this tower are designed for radio and television broadcasting.
Did You Know?
    This was one of the filming locations for the Nicholas Cage movie The Weatherman. The WSNS (channels 44 and 45) TV studio was used for the New York network studio scenes.
Look For
  • The NBC peacock logo at the top of the tower. It lights up at night.
Quotations
  • "The NBC Building is the best-looking masonry-clad skyscraper constructed in Chicago since the 1930s."

    -Chicago Tribune architecture critic Paul Gapp, April 23, 1989

Forum Discussions Talk about this building with other architecture enthusiasts
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NBC Tower in Chicago.  Photo by Sabine Prather
Sabine Prather
Your Thoughts

There are two comments.

  Deco with gothic touches; sort of like the attractive offspring of the Board of Trade Building and Tribune Tower. A distinctive addition to the skyline, especially handsome in its night lighting..

Alan Follett - Friday, September 14th, 2012 @ 8:16am  

  Has a classic look to its form...similar to the Rockefeller Complex in NYC. It's well resolved and the exterior color gives it a prominence and almost timelessness which should make it look good in a 100 years from now!

Mark Bell - Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 @ 6:25pm  

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