One South Dearborn in Chicago

Photo of One South Dearborn in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of One South Dearborn in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of One South Dearborn in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of One South Dearborn in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of One South Dearborn in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of One South Dearborn in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of One South Dearborn in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of One South Dearborn in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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One South Dearborn

1 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60603
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One of the Loop's newer office buildings, One South Dearborn is modest enough to fit in with its surroundings, but bold enough to draw attention. Its main visual feature is the enormous four-story "lantern" at the top of the building. This gives the building a visual point of difference, ensuring that it's not viewed as just another blue glass box. It also helps hide mechanical and HVAC equipment on the roof. During the day the lantern is illuminated naturally by sunlight. At night man-made illumination helps One South Dearborn stand out from other nearby buildings.

Of course, "blue glass box" isn't necessarily a bad thing. Far from it. The building's facade helps provide a gradient from the commonly azure Chicago sky to the gritty pedestrian-scale city. And great pains were taken to be sympathetic to the landmark Inland Steel building. One South Dearborn's non-glass grid mimics the size and color of the one next door at Inland Steel.

The reverence for 30 West Monroe isn't limited to the facade. The entire mass of One South Dearborn is set back from Dearborn Street in reverence. Its front facade lines up with Inland Steel, and would create a wonderful double-sized front yard if it wasn't for a troublesome ramp leading to an underground loading dock at the older building.

The top of this building isn't the only place where glass plays an important role. The lobby is enclosed by huge cast glass panels that keep the weather out, but beckon pedestrians in. The cascade of glass simulates crystal clear water falling into a moat of recycled glass. That glass is in the form of random lumpy shapes and mimic the rocks similarly lined up in the public plaza. The arrangement allows people walking by to view the happenings in the lobby from the comfort of the street, eliminating the mystery and caution that keep many people from embracing skyscrapers as human-scale architecture. It has to be one of the most welcoming lobbies in the city. Moreover, allowing in all that light helps cut down on interior illumination expenses.

One of the best things about this building is the public plaza in front, which features angled benches, ornamental benches, maple trees, and smooth river rocks. The architect's intention was to create a soothing place in the middle of the urban jungle. Whether that's actually possible is up to the disposition of the individual, but it has become a very popular place for weary office workers to sit and reflect upon their lives.

Quick Facts
Statistics
  • Lantern length: 90 feet.
Timeline
  • 2003: Plans for this building are made public.
  • November 17, 2004: A crane building this skyscraper knocks into the Bank One Center across the street, punching a hole through a window into a conference room and dropping a piece of the crane on a car below. No one is hurt.
  • 2005: Construction is completed.
Notes
  • Architect: Richard Keating
  • Architect: James DeStefano
  • Developer: Hines
Stacking Diagram
39-40: 
9-38: 
3-8: 
1-2: 
Did You Know?
  • There are two balconies on the 37th floor.
  • There is a private balcony on the 40th floor, below the lantern.
  • Different types of glass were used in the lower and upper facade of this building with the changeover matching the height of the building next door.
Tourist Tips
  • This is a great place to sit and people-watch, or just catch your breath while making the pilgrimage from State Street to the Sears Tower.
Look For
  • The big glass lantern at the top. Be sure to look for it at night, too.
Controversy
  • This location was once proposed for a building called 7 South Dearborn which would have been 112 stories -- the tallest in the world at the time. However, plans for that building fell through.
Quotations
    "it exhibits no conceptual breakthroughs that will lead to the sort of hysteria that typically accompanies the opening of a geometrically outlandish building by the likes of Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid. But so what? Good is good. This is the kind of tough but refined beauty that makes Chicago Chicago."

    -Chicago Tribune, January 8, 2006

Rate This Skyscraper
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Your Thoughts

There is one comment.

  Really a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The Loop could use a few more buildings like this to clean up some of the danker, smellier corners.

Mike Enfield - Saturday, May 24th, 2008 @ 5:24pm  

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