Tribune Tower

Construction year: 1928
Address: 435 N Michigan Ave | CHICAGO-ILLINOIS | United States | Visit Website
Latitude/Longitude: 41.89041, -87.62358
Architect(s):

The Tribune Tower is a neo-Gothic building located at 435 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is the home of the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Media, and Tribune Publishing. WGN Radio (720 kHz) broadcasts from the building, while the ground level houses the large restaurant Howells & Hood (named for the building’s architects), whose patio overlooks nearby Pioneer Court and Michigan Avenue. CNN’s Chicago bureau is located in the building. It is listed as a Chicago Landmark and is a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District. The original Tribune Tower was built in 1868 but was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

In 1922 the Chicago Tribune hosted an international design competition for its new headquarters, and offered $100,000 in prize money with a $50,000 1st prize for “the most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world”. The competition worked brilliantly for months as a publicity stunt, and the resulting entries still reveal a unique turning point in American architectural history. More than 260 entries were received.

The winner was a neo-Gothic design by New York architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, with buttresses near the top.

The entry that many perceived as the best, by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, took second place and received $20,000. Saarinen’s tower was preferred by architects like Louis Sullivan and was a strong influence on the next generation of skyscrapers including Raymond Hood’s own subsequent work on the McGraw-Hill Building and Rockefeller Center.

By 1922 the neo-Gothic skyscraper had become an established design tactic, with the first important so-called “American Perpendicular Style” at Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building of 1913. This was a late example, perhaps the last important example, and criticized for its perceived historicism. Construction on the Tribune Tower was completed in 1925 and reached a height of 141 m above ground. The ornate buttresses surrounding the peak of the tower are especially visible when the tower is lit at night.

As was the case with most of Hood’s projects, the sculptures and decorations were executed by the American artist Rene Paul Chambellan. The tower features carved images of Robin Hood (Hood) and a howling dog (Howells) near the main entrance to commemorate the architects. The top of the tower is designed after the Tour de beurre (″butter tower″) of the Rouen Cathedral in France, which is characteristic of the late gothic style, that is to say, without a spire but with a crown-shaped top.

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