10 South Canal in Chicago

Photo of 10 South Canal in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 10 South Canal in Chicago, Illinois

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10 South Canal
Also known as:AT&T 10 South Canal
Formerly:The AT&T Center
Formerly:Illinois Bell Building

10 South Canal, Chicago, Illinois, West Town 60606
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Don't ridicule this building simply because it is another bland brown block in a neighborhood of glitzy glass and steel skyscrapers. 10 South Canal looks utilitarian because it is. The primary purpose of this building is to house telephone equipment. Computers don't need windows. They don't need doors. And they don't need their building to look pretty. In buildings of this type, ornamentation is a bad thing because it calls unnecessary attention to a piece of vital infrastructure. Moreover, unnecessary doors and windows are nothing more than passages for dust and other contaminants to follow to foul up the works. What you end up with is a building that looks like it was designed by a computer for a computer. And that's the way they like it.

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Your Thoughts

There are five comments.

  Thanks for posting on this rather visually unremarkable building; I believe it is the one my dad worked in for many years. He was an energy conservation engineer for AT&T.

C Steen - Saturday, March 28th, 2015 @ 5:49pm  

  It might not be "shiny" enough for the delicate sensibilities of some, but seeing this concrete pillar of telecommunications infrastructure does a lot more for me than a mirrored bean. None of your downtown core would function without this gorgeous building and you likely wouldn't even be able to read this. Infrastructure is beautiful, don't hide it underground, embrace it! Function over form, mmm so hot.

toorist - Saturday, May 17th, 2014 @ 1:07pm  

  This building *is* utilitarian, throughout. The internals feature steel shutters, 2-foot thick concrete walls, and a core protected by no less than two layers of walls and fire doors.Some floors have been converted to offices at the this point, and it's fun to have the generator tests going on (monthly) when trying to go to lunch. Makes for inefficient elevator transport :)

Gustafo M - Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 @ 3:53pm  

  It is my understanding that this building was designed to be not only fire-proof and earthquake-proof but nuclear bomb proof, all to protect vital communications links. But I agree that it did not have to look this brutalist.

Michael M. Modern - Monday, March 19th, 2007 @ 2:52pm  

  While ornamentation may well be a bad thing in a building of this type but a structure that resembles something out of a post-apocalyptic nightmare is something else altogether. Let me say, that is just what this building is reminiscent of. I would truly hate to be greeted by this image upon arriving at a nearby office every morning for work. Leave it to AT&T to come up with something as atrocious as this.

Mike Heck - Friday, January 12th, 2007 @ 8:38pm