311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago

Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation

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311 South Wacker Drive
Also known as:The Wedding Ring Building
Also known as:The White Castle Building

311 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60606
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311 South Wacker Drive is a worthy accompaniment to the Sears Tower next door. In its stature it mimics the Sears, and from certain angles, its flanking wings appear to be setbacks in the same manner as its neighbor. 311 South Wacker stands out, in part, because of its location. Aside from Sears, there are few nearby towers tall enough to compete with it. Another tower planned for this plot of land is still just a drawing, and as of this writing the space where it will go is a community park. Plans for other skyscrapers on nearby blocks are also on hold, and with no serious competitors to the south, this building dominates the landscape, marking the southern edge of the Loop skyscraper forest. While the Sears Tower is much taller, 311 South Wacker takes the same skyscraper formula and updates it. Instead of the Sears Tower’s forceful black glass squares, 311 South Wacker uses an octagonal main shaft clad in pink granite from Texas. The result is a smaller, more stylish presentation. Think of it as the cute girl next door to the big brute looking down on her. While the Sears may puff out its chest and light up its spires in festive colors, 311 South Wacker shows him up through simple elegance – a 70-foot-tall, 65-foot-wide barrel lit up in white at night, and surrounded by four smaller and nearly identical forms – like a central diamond surrounded by accent diamonds in an engagement ring.

Quick Facts
Statistics
  • Floor space: 1,300,000 square feet
Timeline
  • August, 2002: This building was bought by Walton Street Capital for $275,000,000.
Notes
  • Developer: Lincoln Property Company
  • Developer: Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association
  • This was formerly the location of an old warehouse converted into office lofts.
  • At the time of its completion, this was the fourth-tallest building in Chicago, and the 11th-tallest in the world.
  • According to a 1996 Chicago Tribune article, the floors inside the large illuminated barrel at the top are vacant, except for the 69th floor where there is a basketball hoop the building's maintenance crews use to blow off steam.
  • 1,500 flourescent tubes are used to light the top of the building at night. These lights are turned off at midnight to be less annoying to the neighbors, and are turned off even earlier when birds migrate.
  • This building was intended to have a twin 65-story tower next to it that was never built.
Did You Know?
  • At the time of its completion, this was the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world.
Look For
  • The five glass cylinders at the top. They are illuminated by 1,852 florescent rubes at night.
Quotations
  • "Overdone to the point of boorishness."

    -Architecture critic Paul Gapp, Chicago Tribune, 29 September 1996

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311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago.  Photo by Dennis Rossow
Dennis Rossow