Cool Building Wednesday: Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tower

March 10, 2010


(photo by Lee Bey)

Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tower was 33 stories when it opened in 1997. But then it turned 10 and hit a growth spurt.

A team lead by Goettsch Partners (Jim Goettsch designed the building while a partner at the architecture firm behind the original tower, the former Lohan Associates) added 24 stories to the tower.‚  Much of that work--done while the building,‚  300 E. Randolph, was still occupied--is finishing up this year.

As a result, a tower that would have been the city's 58th tallest building at its original 571ft height is now the 17th at 743ft. The photos above and below this paragraph show what can happen in a little over two years. In the two photos, you can also see how Aqua Tower rose 88 stories in the same time frame.


Blue Cross/Blue Shield Building 12/07 (photo by Lee Bey)

I've watched much of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield construction from my office on the 22nd floor of neighboring Aon Building, 200 E. Randolph. I've taken countless photos of the project from window, but my favorite is this one from September 2008, which shows the existing building with the still-raw addition perched above like a beehive:


Blue Cross/Blue Shield Building 09/08 (photo by Lee Bey)

The building was originally designed to accommodate the additional floors. (BTW:‚  Dirk Lohan of Lohan Associates later formed a new firm, Lohan Anderson.)

And now for a little tall-building nerdery, apropos of nothing: Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tower's 743 ft height barely puts it in the top 20 of Chicago's tallest buildings. But that's because Chicago is Chicago. The skyscraper would be the 5th tallest building in Los Angeles, had it been built there. It would have clocked in at number 7 in Houston. And it would be the tallest building in Las Vegas--and all of Nevada--and in Denver also.

The building would have placed a pretty respectable 26th among New York's tallest buildings, virtually dunking over notable skyscrapers such as the new 7 World Trade Center, JP Morgan Chase World Headquarters and the New York Life Building.