It sounds like something James Brown would sing: “You gotta get down to get on up.” Such is life at Chicago’s Aon Center.
Until recently, in order to access the 83-story building from its address of 200 East Randolph Street, one had to use a small elevator or a set of stairs to descend from street level to the skyscraper’s plaza, where the non-limo entrance and pedway system are. But that’s no longer possible, as the plaza is being demolished and replaced.
The old plaza was a festival of white, angular, metal tubes, ornamental bridges, and a central fountain. It was like a Buck Rogers parkour course.
The new plaza, designed by HGA, is much softer. Gone is the fountain which echoed off the walls of the sunken plaza so loudly that it was unpleasant to sit there. In comes a central staircase, miniature triangles of lawn, wildflowers built into an artificial hillside, and outdoor seating. It’s enough to make the stark, brutish tower seem almost human-friendly.
Work started in late December, and is expected to wrap up this coming August.