Chicago Neverbuilt — Episode 6: 222 West Randolph

Our Chicago Neverbuilt series continues to celebrate the work of great architects that, for one reason or another, failed to make the transition from imagination to reality.

222 West Randolph Street was supposed to be the companion tower to 151 North Wacker Drive. 151 got built. 222 wasn’t so lucky.

Drawing of 222 West Randolph.  Courtesy of Goettsch Partners.

Drawing of 222 West Randolph. Courtesy of Goettsch Partners.

222 was designed by friends-of-the-blog Goettsch Partners. It was going to be 44-stories tall with 763,000 square feet of office space and a 500-space parking garage. In the company’s monograph, the two towers share a page since they were designed to complement each another:

The towers are planned as individual buildings, each on its own half-block site, featuring landscaped plazas that face one another. Together, these smaller plazas establish a large, inviting urban space straddling one of the city’s main north-south arterials. Considered in conjunction with other existing and planned public spaces along the east-west corridor, the plazas help connect areas west of the train stations to the lake with a series of parks and other activity nodes.

While Goettsch’s vision for that corner of Randolph Street didn’t get built, what’s currently planned for that location continues Goettsch’s original intent. 151 North Franklin will take the place of 222. It’s a mere 36 stories but ditches the massive parking garage. It was designed by John Ronan who also intentionally included an open, public space positioned as a continuation of 151 North Wacker’s park. Same idea, different architect.

Different implementation, too. The Goettsch space was intended to be park-like. Ronan is going for the bunch-of-guys-in-chinos-sitting-on-concrete-steps-talking-about-the-Bulls vibe. At 151 North Franklin’s coming out party in December, 2013, we reported:

Architect John Ronan envisions the overhang at 151 as a public space, with large trees, and wireless networking—a place where office workers can have impromptu brainstorming sessions and social events. “It conceptualizes an urban, outdoor room that gives something back to the city,” he says. Replicating the success of a similar space at One South Dearborn seems unlikely, however. As noted by one local resident last night, it is more likely that the rain-sheltered space will become an enormous smoking lounge, as the building, itself, is a smoke-free zone.

Location: 222 West Randolph Street/151 North Franklin Street, The Loop

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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