For more than 35 years, 333 Wacker has been a beloved Chicago icon, celebrating the connection between the city’s grid and its winding rivers with an exquisite glass form.
Located on a triangular site where the urban grid of the Loop meets the bend of the Chicago River, this 36-story, 1-million-square-foot tower offers two distinct sides: the south face is sliced and notched, directly addressing the geometry of the city’s grid, while the northwestern side mirrors the river with a reflective green-glass skin and graceful curving façade, emerging from its context as a luminous volume.
The tower’s base, a mass of gray granite horizontally banded with green marble, echoes the hue of the curtain wall and the river as well as expresses the stone’s non-load-bearing capacity. On the downtown façade, above the broad semicircular steps of the formal entry, circular air-intake grilles set in black granite panels become grand decorative elements. The monumental base is justified by contextual and programmatic demands. The office floors are raised above the noisy elevated tracks, which cross the river and run directly alongside the building, by a large mechanical floor placed directly above the two-story lobby. The building thus gained a four-floor untenanted block at its base, free to be sculpted and allowing for grand-scale lobbies.
The decorative stone-and-stainless steel system of the base is continued into the two lobbies, integrating the interior and the exterior and unifying the entire entry sequence. The base and lobbies evoke a classical feel without literal references, owing to the well-defined, symmetrical, and sequential progression of spaces.