Peoples Gas Company Building in Chicago

Photo of Peoples Gas Company Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Peoples Gas Company Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Peoples Gas Company Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Peoples Gas Company Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Peoples Gas Company Building in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

3 West Burton Place, Chicago

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Peoples Gas Company Building
Official name:122 South Michigan
Also known as:People's Gas Company Building
Formerly:The Gas Building
Formerly:Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company Building

122 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60603
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Text by Wayne Lorentz

Once the biggest kid on the block, the People's Gas Building retains its stature even though the city of Chicago has grown up around it.

The design is indicative of its time. It employs the standard three-piece skyscraper formation, plus lots of classical embellishments like ornamental lions along the balustrade at the top. Its hundreds of windows reflect the nature of its design -- to serve a huge and growing company with thousands of workers.

At the time of its construction, rows of small windows were traditional because of engineering limitations of the era. But this building was erected at the beginning of a new era. One where steel carried the weight of the building, not the exterior walls. Indeed, this building does have a steel skeleton. But rather than supporting the entire building, steel cantilevers transfer the weight of the majority of the building onto a frame to keep the upper stories from crushing the decorative granite columns and other elements from the third floor down.

Quick Facts
  • Construction start: 1908
  • Construction finish: 1911
  • Designed by: D.H. Burnham & Company
  • Renovated: 1987 by Eckenhoff Saunders Architects at a cost of $55,000,000
  • Renovated: 1986-1987 by Eckenhoff Saunders Architects at a cost of $55 million
  • Type: Skyscraper
  • Stories: 21
  • Maximum Height: 265 feet / 81 meters
Statistics
  • Floor space: 525,000 square feet
  • Steel used in construction: 9,385 tons.
  • Bronze ornamentation: 30 tons.
  • Mahogany used: 250,000 board feet.
Timeline
  • 1910: Construction began on this building.
  • 1911: Construction was completed on this building.
  • July, 1984: This building is sold to First City Developments Corporation.
  • 1985: This building was sold to Travelers Realty Investment Company.
  • August, 1994: This building was sold to S.N. Phelps Realty.
  • 1995: Peoples Gas moved out of its namesake building.
  • 1998: A plan is floated to convert the first seven stories of this building into a hotel.
Notes
  • The granite columns are 26 feet tall, 4 and a half feet in diameter, and weigh 30 tons each.
  • The entrance floor is covered with marble quarried from the same source near Athens, Greece where the stone for the Parthenon was quarried. The rest of the marble for the building came from quarries from the Greek islands.
  • The mahogany used in this building came from islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • This building's second floor used to be a mezzanine for a monumental entrance hall.
  • This building was erected in two phases. When the north portion of the building was completed, the former gas company headquarters (in an old hotel) was razed, and the southern portion was built.
Did You Know?
  • The pillars at the base of this building are each made from a single piece of solid granite weighing 30 tons.
Rate This Skyscraper
method='post' action='/Building.php?ID=1275#Rate'>Current rating:50% 90%  name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Praise' class='Plain'> name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Raze' class='Plain'>
Your Thoughts

There are four comments.

  As beautiful as the exterior of the building is, the interior is in dire need of a major overhaul. The climate control is hit or miss, the elevators and revolving doors break down with alarming frequency, and the wiring is obsolete. The building owners cut every corner they can.

Jon O'Brien - Saturday, May 5th, 2012 @ 2:44am  

  From my office, I see many people a day taking pictures of the building. From the inside, I forget what a lovely building it really is.

Chris Davis - Saturday, July 17th, 2010 @ 12:13pm  

  One's eyes are drawn to the marble columns and the decorative top floors of the building. The three styles of the face give one the illusion of grandeur, solidity, and strength.

Wonderful Lines - Thursday, March 4th, 2010 @ 5:17pm  

  Worked in this building for 2 years now, it can be too hot and too cold in the same day, but all things considered a pretty good place to work. Best to keep a sweater in your office/at your desk just in case. Easternly views cannot be beat - well maybe by San Francisco, LA, Seattle, Maui, etc. In the midwest this is the best.

Worked in this building for 2 years now, it can be too hot and too cold in the same day, but all things considered a pretty good place to work. - Thursday, April 9th, 2009 @ 8:40am  

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