Fourth Demolition and Building Update

It looks like demolition work is pretty much done behind Fourth Presbyterian Church (126 East Chestnut Street), across the street from the John Hancock Center (875 North Michigan Avenue).

The church is knocking down a bunch of auxiliary buildings in a project called Project Second Century in order to build new, larger, more modern facilities to serve the parish and the local community.  Fourth Presbyterian has earned a lot of respect in the neighborhood because even though it is a small church, the breadth and depth of its outreach, education, and charitable work is enormous.

The result will be a building will fit somewhat awkwardly inside the diagonally-aligned plot, with a glass facade facing Michigan Avenue (see a picture here).  The building was designed by Gensler (PDF of Gensler presentation here); here are the highlights:

  • Five stories
  • 82,000 square feet
  • LEED Silver
  • Two small green roofs

You may recall that Fourth Presbyterian originally wanted to use this space to build a 71-story tower that would house its offices on the lower floors, and residences on higher floors.  The plan was killed by the usual crowd of local NIMBYs; most of them John Hancock Center residents not interested in sharing their view with anyone else, or having their property values reduced because of obstructed views.

One of the buildings from this complex that will be missed is the Lorene Replogle Counseiling Center (112 East Chestnut Street). The building, which went up in 1952, was one of the few remaining Mid-Century gems in the area.  Its glass block and zig-zag pediment earned it fans, even among those who normally don’t like MCM architecture.

At least the church acknowledged the benefits it received from this building, and held a brief thanksgiving service before it was torn down.

The larger of the buildings destroyed was Westminster House, which formerly house classrooms, a chapel, and offices.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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