Chicago, Illinois, USA
1 million square feet / 93,000 square meters
181 West Madison is a 50-story office tower located in the Chicago Loop. A point tower, the building has multiple setbacks and a distinctive crown that recalls the sculptural skyscrapers of the 1920s and their vertical tracery and celebratory tops. The tower is clearly organized with a square floor plan in a center square core and column-free office space in a 1.5-meter (five-foot) module.
The exterior wall expresses this module with vertical ribs of granite. Metal accent mullions are centered between the vertical ribs, suspended away from the curtain wall, which reinforce the scale and verticality of the tower. Patterned glass spandrels provide a counterpoint to this dominant vertical rhythm. At each setback, the piers terminate in expressive metal finials that reflect sunlight and, with nighttime illumination, provide a distinctive image for the tower on the skyline.
At the tower base, a four-story glass-roofed loggia at Madison Street serves as a transitional element to the building lobby. Clad in warm white, gray and green marbles, the lobby’s tall main hall has a vaulted, coffered ceiling. Corridors leading from the main hall connect it to additional entries and the elevator lobbies. A large glass wall along Madison Street floods the lobby with natural light.
In 1992, 181 West Madison received an Award of Merit from the Chicago Lighting Institute.