New West Loop Office Building Won’t Be the Expected Twin


Drawing of 590 West Madison courtesy of Goettsch Partners

It’s too soon to call it a “boom” (though some publications have jumped the gun on this) but office building construction certainly is picking up in downtown Chicago.  The latest building announced lands, not surprisingly, in the West Loop.

Crain’s Chicago Business has the scoop on 590 West Madison, designed by friends-of-the-blog Goettsch Partners. It’s a 41-story combination office-over-hotel tower that’s planned to rise 41 stories into the increasingly congested West Loop sky. It will sit in the surface parking lot that shares a city block with ABN AMRO Plaza.

That building, with its stripes and angles, is a darling of generic corporate stock photography. From banks in Germany to mining companies in Brazil, when a corporate art department needs a picture of a sleek-looking corporate office building–but only part of one–they take a carefully selected crop from the ABN AMRO Plaza building. It’s a way of saying, “This might be our fancy global headquarters, but it really isn’t and we’re going to plead plausible deniability.”

An interesting factoid that many people don’t know is that the 29-story ABN AMRO Plaza was originally designed to be two towers.

When the building was originally proposed, it was supposed to be twin towers, with the parallelograms of the two buildings playing off of each other, creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts.  (See Pennzoil Place on our sister site in Houston.)  Alas, one of Chicago’s many boom-and-bust cycles went *pop* just as the first tower was completed, and that’s the reason we’ve had a surface parking lot at this prime location for so very long. It’s been there just waiting for its destiny to be fulfilled.

Destiny has finally arrived but not in the form expected. A change in ownership at the first tower killed the twin tower dream.

When we first heard about this building from one of our spies back in the summer, we were told it was going to be 43-stories tall with 616,000 square feet of office space over 338 hotel rooms. It looks like each component has lost a floor.

Still, the new building will be more than a quarter taller than its big sister and will take on the familiar box-on-a-podium shape with which we’re familiar. The boffins at Goettsch are using lots of vertical lines to emphasize its height; the massing is broken up into three planes with a central box rising higher than the others. The theme is repeated in the podium as well.

According to Crain’s, the bottom of the building is envisioned as a 350-room hotel while the top is formed around 600,000 square feet of office space. The developer is Joseph Mizrachi out of Florida.

We’ll bring you many more details once the official paperwork is filed with the city.

Location: 590 West Madison Street, West Loop

Author: Editor

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

Share This Post On