Roof of 50 East Huron to be Socially Distant from Pool of 30 East Huron

A few weeks ago we told you about the project to increase the height of the former American Library Association Building.  The plan is to strip the building at 50 East Huron Street in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood to its bones, and then re-build it three stories taller.

50 East Huron (Via the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly)
50 East Huron (Via the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly)

We received a few e-mail messages about this along the lines of, “Why only eight stories?”

The answer comes to us from three Near North Spies who popped the top on our Tip Line.

Near North Spy A. tells us that the embiggening of the A.L.A. Building isn’t allowed to cast shadows on the residential building next door at 30 East Huron.  If you’ve read this publication in the last decade or so, you know that light and views are among the most jealously guarded and easily stolen commodities in downtown Chicago.  

Near North Spy J. backs him up, saying that 30 East Huron’s pool deck is 106 feet above the street, so the extreme renovation next door won’t go any higher than 100 feet. 

30 and 50 East Huron, all snugglebuddies. (Courtesy of Near North Spy Mike)
30 and 50 East Huron, all snugglebuddies. (Courtesy of Near North Spy Mike)

Near North Spy Mike sent in this photograph showing the sitch from the ground.  You can see the old building hugs its taller cousin harder than Aunt Clara at Christmas dinner.  Go too much higher and there will be a fire sale on pitchforks and torches at the Walgreens up the street.

You may have noticed that the new addition will go to 100 feet, even though the moderating pool deck is at 106 feet.  That COVID-grade social distancing is probably a good idea.  It is a common complaint at buildings like 875 North Michigan that looking out onto someone else’s roof — even if it doesn’t block your view — is a nightmare.  Between the reflected sun glaring in your windows, and the bleakness of the view, it’s like buying a home next door to a gravel parking lot, or a desert, or a vast sea of Aunt Clara’s Christmas snowball cookies, which were recently banned under the United Nations Weapons Convention.

In a previous story about this project, we incorrectly stated that under a 1977 zoning ordinance, an 18-story residential building could be built at this location.  Thanks to all of you who wrote in letting us know that the residential tower did get built, and is sitting right there next door.  We have taken the erroneous story and wrapped Aunt Clara’s Christmas present with it, so it will never be seen again.

Location: 50 East Huron Street, Near North

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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