Old Chicago Skyscraper of the week: 333 N. Michigan
June 8, 2009 § Leave a comment
Designed by Holabird & Root and finished in 1928. 333 stands at the southwest corner of what was then called the “Michigan Avenue Plaza,” a new intersection formed when the River was bridged here as part of the Wacker Drive reconstruction. It’s best known as a knock-off of Eliel Saarinen’s 1922 Tribune Tower entry (a scheme that many felt should have won), but on its own it is a remarkable translation of Chicago’s new zoning code. The site was particularly narrow (only 62 x 200 feet), and Holabird & Root responded by centralizing the elevator core and shifting it to the eastern edge of the lot. This also allowed for a future expansion, which apparently never happened.
The tower facing the River was a literal translation of a provision in the zoning code that permitted buildings to rise above the 265 foot height limit within strict limitations–only 25% of the site plan could rise above this level, and it was subject to a 10% setback slope line from the street. The tower here, which at just over 3000 square feet fit precisely within the 25% provision, extended an extra 11 stories above a 24 story slab, peaking at 426 feet. The three stories at the base were fitted out as shops, each of which had storage and a dedicated truck entrance on Lower Wacker Drive.
Holabird & Root chose to relocate their offices to 333 N. Michigan while it was under construction.