300 East Randolph in Chicago

Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of 300 East Randolph in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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300 East Randolph

300 East Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60601
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Text by Wayne Lorentz

For years this building provided a dignified presence on the edge of the railroad yard that would eventually be decked over to become Millennium Park. It looked out over Grant Park and the Loop with its blue glass and white accents reminding the office workers of the wonders of the great lake that lie just beyond.
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That placid harmony with its surroundings was shattered in 2007. On purpose.
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Many buildings in Chicago have aspirations to reach higher than they do. This is one of the few that actually attained its goal. In 2007 a project was started to add another 24 stories of offices on top of the 33 already built. The skyscraper was designed from the start for this kind of expansion. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois knew it would eventually be necessary. But the details were little more than a footnote in an archive, or a bit of trivia on a skyscraper nerd's web site for a decade.
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The vertical extension cost $270,000,000 -- a little over $10 million per floor, and was more than a little complicated. First, a small derrick was brought to the roof piece-by-piece. Once installed, it was used to lift up the pieces of a larger derrick that was assembled on the roof. The larger machine was then used to disassemble the smaller one and lower it back to the ground. When that was done, the remaining derrick was used to lift the pieces of the first crane to the roof where it was assembled. The derrick was then moved and used to bring up the second crane.

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It is remarkable that the upward expansion was needed so soon. Other buildings in the area have waited decades ready to be expanded, with no hint of that progress ever being made. The fact that this tower is increasing in stature will once again make it a bit of trivia.
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At the time the original building was completed, it was a stately presence on East Randolph Street. But as the world progressed around it, the tower became less and less prominent. The final insult came with the 2007 completion of 340 On The Park, a 64-story residential tower next door that was double the size of the BCBS Tower. Adding another 24 stories won't bring this skyscraper head and shoulders above the rest of its neighbors, but it will at least no longer look like the runt of the litter.
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The best views of this building are actually from the back. And at night. This is how you can appreciate the structure of the building. It features a massive central atrium that is clearly visible through the glass in the darkness. You can sit in Lake Shore Park and watch the internal elevators whiz up and down the edges of the atrium serving the workers toiling long into the night. That atrium is surrounded on three sides by banks of offices. The arrangement is similar to the classic light well common in many Chicago buildings built around the turn of the 20th century. People in the offices are able to get light from all sides, even if they are deep within the center of the structure.

Quick Facts
Statistics
  • Formerly: 411 feet.
  • New height: 796 feet.
  • Forlerly: 33 stories.
  • Now: 57 stories.
  • Former floor space: 1,400,000 square feet.
  • New floor space: 2,300,000 square feet.
Timeline
  • July, 2006: Plans to add 24 stories to this building are announced.
  • October, 2007: A pair of cranes were put in place at the roof line to facilitate construction.
  • November, 2009: The vertical exansion was completed.
Notes
  • Two cranes and two derricks were installed on this building for its expansion.
Stacking Diagram
55-57: 
33-54: 
31-32: 
3-30: 
2: 
1: 
B1: 
B3-B2: 
Tourist Tips
  • The best views of this building are from Lake Shore Park, at the back of the building.
Look For
  • Interior elevators, visible at night from the rear of the building.
Rate This Skyscraper
method='post' action='/Building.php?ID=1235#Rate'>Current rating:50% 80%  name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Praise' class='Plain'> name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Raze' class='Plain'>
300 East Randolph in Chicago.  Photo by Timothy Goodrich
Photograph courtesy of Timothy Goodrich
300 East Randolph in Chicago.  Photo by Timothy Goodrich
Photograph courtesy of Timothy Goodrich
Your Thoughts

There are nine comments.

  dear mgt company: i live in north chicago and often take lakeshore drive home. i regularly pass the blue cross/shield building on randolph which commemorates various holidays and city events via light designs. on jan 14, 2012, i noticed a commemoration for the martin luther king holiday. my eyes teared up but i was unable to fully weep as i would have been unable to see while driving. i want to say that this gives the impressioin that blue cross/shield is a smart company, is socially conscious and is a good company to do business with. great move!

Sharon E. Williams - Sunday, January 15th, 2012 @ 12:56pm  

  Very cool height for the building. I have been to Navy Pier the past 2 years and have seen the Sears Tower is still visible by what they call Dock Street, and near Making History Chicago Store. Even more cool is the further east on the pier you go by the Ballroom Building, you can see this as an impressive addition to the skyline with the Sears Tower just to the left of 340 On The Park.

Brent Kampert - Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 @ 1:27pm  

  Its a good example of simplicity with highrise building. but something is lacking in this..may be massing.

Pankaj Pundir - Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 @ 4:35am  

  Amazing...This is supposedly the largest "vertical completion" project in the nation right now. It is amazing that 32 floors of people are working during the day while construction occurs overhead. They laid millions of dollars of extra cement and made sure that the outside curtain wall could be ordered in 2008 to match the bottom section.

christine - Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 @ 8:12pm  

  It's amazing how the architects are able to expand the building upwards, first skyscraper I have seen do that. Sadly, it will block the Sears Tower from Navy Pier.

Brent Kampert - Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 @ 3:00pm  

  This building is okay, it's attractive. It's just not very original or daring.

David Shmuel - Thursday, July 26th, 2007 @ 8:16am  

  To truly appreciate this building you must explore within. The structure maintains an open feeling throughout and is graceful in its design. The executive floor has a different design language distinct from the rest of the structure.

tomcxp - Thursday, March 8th, 2007 @ 11:20pm  

  The best parts of this building are in its' structure. NEC code requires the removal of abandoned cables in plenum spaces due to life safety issues. This building uses cellular floor to safely house these cables. I just hope they keep the faith and include cellular floor in the addition.

jeffk - Monday, October 9th, 2006 @ 5:04pm  

  This is a boring building in a high-profile location. Too bad they didn't start with a more interesting design. Maybe once they go higher they will redesign the upper portion to give it some interest.

urbaneddie - Wednesday, August 9th, 2006 @ 5:24pm  

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