Chicago’s Ugliest Building Gets a Facelift, Thanks to You

16 West Jackson before and after

The squat, nasty box that in was voted the ugliest building in Chicago has a brand new look.

It was the readers of the Chicago Tribune whose votes gave 16 West Jackson Street its dubious title back in 2005.  Now the building has a new look, thanks to a renovation paid for with your tax dollars.

16 West Jackson and two neighboring buildings known as 230 South State Street and 1 West Quincy Court have been undergoing major rehabilitation for well over a year now.  Together they are known as the South State Street Federal Buildings and are technically part of the complex that hardly anyone knows as Federal Plaza.

10 West JacksonRenovating all three buildings cost $25 million, and involved a lot of different challenges because each is from a different era.  16 West Jackson needed extra fire protection love because it’s a hundred years old and made from wood.  230 was originally a fantastic art deco department store called Benson & Rickson Company, built in 1937; and 10 West Jackson was The Bond Store, which went up in 1949.

All three have been brought up to LEED Gold standards.  Naturally there’s a green roof, but there are also sensors that determine the number of people in the building and adjust the HVAC as necessary.

So, who’s going into these spanking new gub’mint buildings?  The Department of Labor’s local office is going into 10 West Jackson.  The Department of Homeland Security has moved on to other digs.

The General Services Administration is so proud of the project, it even put together a little video that you can view here.

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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