There are plenty of Chicago skyscrapers that are city, or even national landmarks. But it’s been a while since we got a new one. That changed a few days ago when 225 West Randolph Street became the newest Chicago landmark. You may know it as the Southwestern Bell Building, or the Ameritech Building. Or if you’re really old school, the Illinois Bell Building.
We used to keep our car a block away from 225, and never thought much of it as we passed. Apparently, we were wrong, since the city thinks enough of it to not only touch both of its 31-story shoulders with the landmark sword, but to give the new owners almost $70 million in tax breaks over the next 12 years. The city’s Department of Planning and Development describes the building thusly:
Completed in 1966, the Illinois Bell Building at 225 W. Randolph St. is considered a rare example of a commercial building with characteristic elements of New Formalism. Designed by the Chicago firm of Holabird & Root, the 31-story tower features a curtain wall of black glass and projecting marble-clad columns; a roofline with a prominent horizontal marble slab; a recessed first floor with oversized windows; and a row of square, black, granite planters at the plaza level.
Interestingly, the building’s plaza and granite planters were specifically landmarked, so unlike at buildings like Newberry Plaza and 875 North Michigan, we’re not in danger of losing that open space.
Now that it has landmark status, and a tax break, the new owners are expected to spend $154 million over the next three years renovating of the tower’s facade, plaza, first floor, and basement.