Chicago Neverbuilt — Episode 11: The 31 Story Nope

401 South Wacker Drive (Courtesy of DRI)

401 South Wacker Drive (Courtesy of DRI)

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.

Today we feature the pie in the sky known as 301 West Van Buren and also 401 South Wacker Drive.  The 31-story office building was first announced way way way way back in 2001.  Over the years, its plan was refined and by 2007 was supposed to be ready for occupancy in 2011.  But just as those plans for the skyscraper started rolling, the economy was found wandering shoeless down an alley off State Street talking to the walls.

The building from DRI and Oakstreet Capital would have had 885,000 square feet of space, and 75 parking spaces.  Though the design looks like simple slabs of blue glass, the Wacker Drive facade bows out gently for half it’s height, then slowly retreats toward the top.  Sadly, long after the promised 2011 delivery date, the sign remained standing on the property, which is now as it was then — a surface parking lot.

Still, perhaps there is some hope for the building.  It’s still on lists of upcoming projects on web sites like LoopNet.  But for us, if you haven’t built it 15 years after the announcement, it’s fork time.

401 South Wacker sign

401 South Wacker sign

Location: 401 South Wacker Drive, 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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