AIA Chicago supports the designation of the Century and Consumers buildings as Chicago Landmarks
Statement to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks November 13, 2023, public hearing
AIA Chicago supports the designation of the Century and Consumers buildings as Chicago Landmarks.
On behalf of our approximately 4,000 members, AIA Chicago joins with many other organizations to advocate for the preservation of the Century Building, built in 1915 by Holabird and Roche at 202 South State Street, and the Consumers Building, built in 1913 by Jenney, Mundie & Jensen at 220 South State Street. These buildings represent significant contributions to the Chicago School of Architecture by respected firms. We stand with the communities calling for adaptive reuse and revitalization of both high-rises.
While security concerns for the adjacent Federal Complex are valid, and a topic very familiar to most architects in their practice, we strongly believe that a design team will be able to address them during the revitalization process, while respecting the existing urban fabric of the State Street corridor. These towers help anchor the street and provide a reminder that Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper. Their demolition would leave a hole in the urban fabric of State Street which would harm pedestrian flows and the imageability of an important commercial corridor.
Recent successes with adaptive reuse have run the gamut of construction complexity. We have seen local buildings realize their potential after being vacant for many years and then repurposed. These projects include the former Morton Salt Shed; Chicago Athletic Association; Cook County Hospital; Old Post Office, to name just a few. They demonstrate that long-dormant buildings with unique challenges can yield financial and cultural rewards. Historic projects of architectural significance continue to create value more than 100 years after they were first designed and constructed. The Century and Consumer buildings were built to last, and they continue to enhance Chicago’s legacy as an architecturally significant city.
Preservation of our buildings is also vital to a sustainable future for all Chicagoans. According to the 2022 Climate Action Plan of the City of Chicago, our residential, commercial, and industrial buildings account for nearly 69% of the City’s carbon footprint. In these critical years where we must limit global emissions. the embodied carbon of building materials must be reduced, emphasizing again the critical value of preservation and reuse.
As Chicagoans, it is our strong belief we should not ignore our architectural legacy. Instead, we should harness the talents of our design community to resolve any concerns, while preserving the richness of our urban fabric. AIA Chicago is ready to work with all partners in the successful and safe reuse of these two properties.