News / 10.28.15

Throwback Thursday – 300 South Wacker

35-story Miesian High-Rise featuring a bronze aluminum curtainwall

This week's Throwback Thursday trip through the Epstein archives takes us to February 1972 for the opening of 300 South Wacker, a 35-story, 600,000 square foot office building located in Chicago. This 440-foot tall Epstein designed high-rise, that clearly was an ode to Mies van der Rohe, was comprised of reinforced concrete and clad in bronze aluminum curtainwall with bronze tinted glass. Additionally, the plaza level column, lobby walls and promenade was trimmed in Coldspring granite.

300 South Wacker's unusually narrow site dictated a thin building which was only 69' wide but 230' long which presented some serious wind load problems which were resolved through the careful placement of concrete shear walls between the elevator shafts.

The structure is a flat slab design and rests on concrete caissons extending to the hard-pan, approximately 70 feet below street level. 300 South Wacker was topped-out after 1 year of construction making 300 South Wacker at the time one of the most rapidly constructed reinforced concrete buildings in Chicago. A typical 16,300 square foot office floor was poured at the rate of a floor every three days!

Additionally, the mechanical equipment was not only located in the penthouse but also in the 19th floor which provided HVAC for the lower levels. This was a somewhat unique approach for late 60s/early 70s design. In many cases mechanical equipment was located in the basement and penthouse of a high-rise of 300 South Wacker's size. The placement of this equipment on the 19th floor was dictated by a request for the basement to be used for underground parking for executives of 300 South Wacker.

Lastly, 300 South Wacker is still stands and actually went through a bit of quirky makeover last year. On the riverside elevation our original design featured a thick concrete slab along the façade to hide the various elevator shafts. The new owners of 300 South Wacker commissioned ESI Design to design a giant map mural of the Chicago River and the surrounding streets that was adhered to this beige slab. Clearly this massive mural is a visual upgrade over the drab concrete in our design and, to be honest, a fun and playful piece of modern art.