330 North Wabash in Chicago

Photo of 330 North Wabash in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 330 North Wabash in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of 330 North Wabash in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 330 North Wabash in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 330 North Wabash in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 330 North Wabash in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

A marching army.

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330 North Wabash
Formerly:330 North Wabash
Formerly:One IBM Plaza
Formerly:The IBM Building

330 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, Near North 60611
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A landmark of modern architecture, 330 North Wabash set a standard that is still being copied by architects around the world today. It is undeniably one of the great works of "serious" architecture.

Perched along a slight bend in the Chicago River, the building takes stately to a new level. Its design manages to be all business, but not stuffy. When seen on a bright day from across the river its darkness contrasts with the bright stone and glittering reflective glass of its neighbors. But that presence only works when the weather is good. When things aren't at their peak, the building robs the area of much needed light and manages to be little more than a massive void in the sky.

Still, 330 North Wabash is considered an architectural masterpiece. It keeps no secrets. Even a quick look reveals this building's bones. You can clearly see the structural steel, the mechanical floor, and the columns that make this skyscraper possible. Unlike its new-fangled neighbors who hide their flaws beneath a skin of silver glass, this building is raw architecture out in the open.

It is also something of an engineering feat. The building had to avoid a freight rail line that brought newspaper rolls to the Chicago Sun-Times building that was once on the other side of Wabash Avenue. The City of Chicago even helped out a little with the engineering, shifting the path of Wabash Avenue slightly to allow the architect to pursue the building shape he desired.

Quick Facts
Statistics
    *Windows: 7,200
Timeline
  • 1969: Construction began.
  • 1971: Construction ended.
  • 1989: Artist David Mooney backlit every one of the building's windows in red, white, or blue for a few days in the summer.
  • 1996: IBM sold this building to the Blackstone Group.
  • 2005: IBM moved out of its namesake building
  • January 4, 2005: Crain's Chicago Business reported that the owners of this building were considering converting it to condominiums.
  • 2006: IBM moved to the Hyatt Center.
  • 2007: An idea was floated to convert the top 38 stories of this building into a hotel.
  • 2007: This building was named a Chicago landmark
  • February 6, 2008: This building was named a Chicago landmark.
  • March, 2008: 12 floors of this building were sold to a hotel company for $46 million.
  • 2010: This building was added to the National Register of Historic Places
  • December, 2010: Floors two through 13 were sold to Langham Hotels International
  • September, 2013: This building was renamed AMA Plaza, after the American Medical Association moved its headquarters here
Notes
  • This building has an unusually robust electrical system to handle the types of computers that IBM would have been using in the 1960's and 1970's when it commissioned the building.
  • The planned hotel would have 335 rooms.
Stacking Diagram
18-52: 
17: 
2-16: 
1: 
B1-B2: 
Did You Know?
  • This building's architect died before construction began. A bust of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is in the lobby to honor him.
Tourist Tips
  • The building is surrounded on all sides by a public plaza. It's a good place to sit and catch your breath and watch the city go by.
Look For
  • The architect's bust in the lobby.
Controversy
  • This building used to have magnificent views of Lake Michigan. They were taken away when the old Chicago Sun-Times building was torn down and replaced with the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
Quotations
    "Solitary splendor, a regal slab of exquisitely proportioned steel and glass."

    -Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, May 11, 2005

Rate This Skyscraper
method='post' action='/Building.php?ID=1043#Rate'>Current rating:50% 70%  name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Praise' class='Plain'> name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Raze' class='Plain'>
Your Thoughts

There are nine comments.

  An excellent, masterful exercise in architectural triumphalism. The last of the great '60's buildings - quite literally. Everything from proportions to tone to volume exude a confident power.Side note, if you're curious to see a (bare) interior of this gilt achievement, check out the first episode of Bateman's 2017 series "Ozark." The efficiency of the floor plan and breathtaking floor-to-ceiling views are a dominant background piece.

Dudemeister - Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 @ 5:16pm  

  I live in Marina City and without this building I would have a clear view to the lake and Navy Pier. At first I was unhappy with it taking up half my eastern view, but I have made my peace with it. The interplay of sun and shadow along its sides goes on all day long. Much better than the Unitrin or Hotel 71 which are just boxes with no extenuating features.

Ken Schadt - Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 @ 8:11pm  

  Mies Van Der Rohe was revolutionary because of the way that he handled structure and proportion. He designed everything. The above description about being able to "clearly see the structural steel" is misleading because the vertical, exterior steel members are not structural but rather ornamental and are there to tell the story of the structure but not to actually utilizie the vertical pieces. He was "lying to tell the truth" so to speak.

C. M. - Monday, September 29th, 2008 @ 12:44am  

  Someone needs to explain vad der Rhoe to me. I understand his approach was revolutionary, but his buildings seems to suck light out of their suroundsings and add nothing.

another aaron - Monday, June 30th, 2008 @ 11:49am  

  I didn't used to like this building, but over the years it grew on me. I can't imagine Chicago without it.

Aaron Burger - Monday, May 26th, 2008 @ 4:20pm  

  Mies's work is terrible. The only piece I've ever enjoyed by him is the Farnsworth House, and that's probably because it's out in the boonies and isn't ruining great cities.

Sam - Sunday, April 13th, 2008 @ 1:20am  

  Sorry, I might be in the minority here, but, for the most part, I have not been a fan of Mies van der Rhoe's work.

David Shmuel - Thursday, July 26th, 2007 @ 10:46pm  

  Its great to witness an architectural masterpiece by a master craftsman Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe!

wilson frederick - Monday, January 23rd, 2006 @ 2:55am