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London Guarantee And Accident Building Chicago
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© Christine Till
The London Guarantee and Accident Building, situated at the location of the Fort Dearborn Blockhouse, part of the first permanent settlement that would eventually become Chicago -, is one of Chicago's few and best examples of the Beaux Arts-style Classical Revival applied to the design of a tall office building. It is one of the four 1920s flanks of the Michigan Avenue Bridge (along with the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and 333 North Michigan Avenue). The Building's design makes good use of its oddly-shaped lot and blends perfectly with the concrete of Wacker Drive and its bridgehouses.
The 22-story limestone tower was designed by Alfred S. Alschuler for the London Guarantee and Accident Company just after the completion of the neighbouring Wrigley building in 1922. Finished in 1923, the London Guarantee and Accident Building, formerly known as the Stone Container Building, but now known as 360 North Michigan Avenue, rises some 320 feet above the Chicago River. It is full of classical references: the central arched entrance is flanked by four corinthian columns; the 3 top stories above the 15th floor repeat the row of classical columns. The trapezoidal-shaped building is capped by a large pavilion which resembles the Choragic Monument in Athens although the architect claimed it was derived more closely from the Stockholm Stadshus. The construction is topped by a Greco-Roman tempietto. Its curved facade boasts a bronze relief carving above the main entrance. And during the 2001 renovation the lobby's beautiful original ceiling, hidden under an ugly drop ceiling, was re-discovered.
The London Guarantee Building - now 360 North Michigan Avenue - helped define one of Chicago's most dramatic and important urban spaces. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on April 16, 1996.
January 24th, 2013
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