Construction Update
Howells and Hood at Tribune Tower

Howells and Hudson at the Tribune Tower

Howells and Hudson at the Tribune Tower

Things are cooking at the new steakhouse/bistro/bar that’s being carved into the side of the Tribune Tower (435 North Michigan Avenue).

Howells and Hood is named after the architects of the landmark Chicago skyscraper and looks like it’s going to be an absolutely enormous space.  The perimeter of the outdoor seating area has already been constructed, and work continues on a kind of outside cantina pavilion.  It looks like it’s going to be a bar for serving drinks to people who want to lounge around Pioneer Plaza on a warm Summer’s evening.

The restaurant extends deep into the side of the tower, into the former offices of WGN Radio, which moved upstairs a few months ago.  Unlike the WMAQ-TV showcase studio a few feet to the south, the WGN radio showcase studio will continue to operate.

The restaurant seems to be taking its place in the city very seriously, and offers this blurb on its web site:

Nestled at the base of the legendary Tribune Tower, this stunning restaurant is a vibrant addition to one of Chicago’s most beloved and recognizable skyscrapers. Incorporating signature Tribune elements into our design, such as the etched travertine that came over from Italy, Howells & Hood pays homage to John Howells & Raymond Hood, architects of the Neo Gothic landmark. Tasteful modern accents add to the beauty of this Chicago gem. With a unique and refined culinary program, unparalleled drink selection, and impressive staff, Howells & Hood is sure to be a magnificent compliment to Michigan Avenue.

Ordinarily an eatery in such a prominent space would be eschewed by locals because it will be instantly mobbed by tourists.  But this place looks like it might be big enough to welcome everyone.

But that giant bar is a problem.  Right now it looks like someone dropped a shipping container in the middle of one of the city’s most prominent public spaces.  And the walls aren’t walls. They’re roll-up garage doors.

Such cheapo construction methods are common in the Seattle area where the weather rarely gets very cold or very hot. The advantage is that if someone complains about the weather, it’s easy for the bartender to just roll down the wall.  Even in the Pacific Northwest it’s considered very tacky.

In Texas, a watering hole like this isn’t even considered a bar.  It’s called an “ice house” and is considered very low-class, but in a good kind of slumming-it way.

Let’s hope that when construction is done the shipping container bar looks a lot better than it does now, and somehow pays homage to the magnificent tower behind it.

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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