Construction Update
What’s Not to See

One of the city’s most discrete transformations is happening in one of its most prominent locations. The venerable Chicago Athletic Association Building at 12 South Michigan Avenue is methodically being transformed into a 250-room hotel to be run by the upscale Thompson hotel chain. Thompson recently established a beachhead in the Gold Coast, turning the former Sutton Place Hotel (21 East Bellevue Place) into the Thompson Chicago.

12 South Michigan under construction

12 South Michigan under construction

For months, we’ve mostly heard, but not seen, the construction happening inside the old Henry Ives Cobb-designed building. A lot of the action has been happening down the alley that leads south from Madison Street that gives the building its unique shape. It wraps around the Willoughby Tower, giving it street frontage on both East Madison Street and South Michigan Avenue. We assume the city is going to require hotel guests to load and unload on the Madison side.*

Loop Spy Ryan took some photos recently and, as you can see, if it wasn’t for the barricades, you might not know anything was going on. The derrick that was once perched on the future rooftop restaurant area is gone, and crews have finished patching up the underground work done last fall on Madison Street.

As a point of trivia, it was here that the Chicago Cubs acquired its red and blue circle-C logo. It originally belonged to the Chicago Athletic Association and was appropriated by William Wrigley for the baseball team. According to a 2012 Chicago Tribune article, the logos can still be seen inside the building. Perhaps history will come full-circle and the Cubs will hold its fan festival in this hotel when it opens.

Location: 12 South Michigan Avenue, The Loop

*A Prohibition-era law makes bippy betting unlawful in Chicago.  So please, no wagering.

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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