Partial WIN: Morton Salt Building to be Demolished, but Historic Stainless Steel Panels to be be Reused.

The mid-century modern Morton Salt Building will be demolished. Designed by the highly respected architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White along with Shaw, Metz & Dolio, the five-story building has been a fixture at 110 North Wacker Drive since its completion in 1961. It was commissioned by Morton Salt Company, a long-standing Chicago company founded in 1879. Morton Salt Company left the building in 1992 and more recently, General Growth Properties occupied the building.

110 North Wacker Drive will be replaced by 51-story glass office tower designed by Goettsch Partners and developed by Dallas-based Howard Hughes Company and Chicago’s Riverside Investment and Development. Bank of America will be the anchor tenant.

The development plan includes a half-acre publicly accessible open space, including a landscaped river walk and an urban park. The new 45-foot wide river walk will serve as a new north-south connection for pedestrian access between Randolph and Washington Streets. Accessible open space was a clearly stated priority by 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly.

At a recent Section 106 meeting, Preservation Chicago advocated for a reconsideration of the proposed demolition, citing Morton Salt’s history and lineage to the development of Chicago, along with building’s history, integrity, scale. Additionally, the history of Wacker Drive’s transformation from Market Street is being lost as the scale of the riverfront is being overwhelmed by super tall, glass buildings.

One positive outcome from Preservation Chicago’s advocacy and comments during the Section 106 meetings, was that the developer struck a deal with the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the “adverse effect” of demolishing an architecturally significant building with the following items.

The developers agreed to repurpose the Morton Salt Building’s stainless steel panels on the new building’s terrace and dock levels. The goal will be to help maintain a pedestrian scale for the building’s base and prominently integrate the historic material where it will remain visible to the public.

Plaques to commemorate the Morton Salt Company history will be installed at the plaza and river levels.

A study of the Morton Salt Building’s architecture will be commissioned by the development team, and will be donated to the research collections at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ryerson and Burnham Architecture Archives and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

The development team will sponsor a public education seminar regarding mid-century modern Architecture in Chicago

During the Section 106 meetings, Preservation Chicago noted that other nearby mid-century modern riverfront buildings, including the Hartford Insurance Building at 100 S. Wacker Drive by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (1961), and 10 and 120 S. Riverside Plaza Buildings also by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (1968 and 1974), along with the Art Deco 2 N. Riverside Plaza also known as the Chicago Daily News Building by Holabird & Root (1928) should be considered for Chicago Landmark Designation.

Additional Reading

In unusual compromise, Wacker tower to incorporate building’s stainless steel façade, Ryan Ori, Chicago Tribune, 1/25/2018

General Growth Building ready to bite the dust for new riverfront office tower, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 1/26/18

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