330 N. Wabash Avenue Building

330 N Wabash Avenue Building
  1. About the 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building in Chicago
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building is an International Style skyscraper designed between 1968 and 1969 by Mies van der Rohe and built between 1970 and 1972 in Chicago, IL.

330 N. Wabash Avenue Building is not the only name you might know this building by though. It is common for companies to want to attach their names to iconic buildings when they move in, or for the general public to come up with nicknames, and this one is no exception. The building has changed names several times over the years, and is also known as:

  • One IBM Plaza.
  • IBM Building.
  • AMA Plaza from 2013 until this day.

Its precise street address is 330 North Wabash, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

The 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building is a structure of significant importance both for the city of Chicago and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the International Style style. Because of that, the 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building was officially declared as a national landmark on November 1st 2007, and was included in the National Register of Historic Places on March 11th 2010.

With its prismatic mass, steel structure, elegant curtain wall, glass lobby, and plaza flowing from the interior, the IBM building exhibits all the characteristics of a Miesian skyscraper.

Mies died in August 1969, before the construction of the tower began..

At the time of its completion in 1972 the 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building incorporated solutions that were quite advanced at the time, these included a state-of-the-art electrical system for both heating and cooling, which was operated by an IBM computer of course.

That was not the only innovation when it came to temperature control though. To harness the excess heat in the building generated by its occupants, lights, and computers, a heat recovery system was installed. This system collects the excess heat and redirects the surplus for other purposes.

Last but not least, the elevators were the first in the city to include the "fireman's recall," which, in case of any sign of fire in the building, directed them directly to the ground floor.

Building's timeline

Design begins
Design completed
Construction begins
Construction completed
Declared NL
Added to the NRHP
AMA Plaza
years ago

Architect and team

Mies van der Rohe was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born in 1886 in Germany. During the first part of his career, he ran his own practice in Berlin, and later on became the director of the Bauhaus School of Architecture.

Mies is considered one of the fathers of modern architecture. His work played an instrumental role in defining the aesthetics of the International Style, emphasizing simplicity, clean lines, and the use of modern materials like steel and glass. His famous statement, "less is more" sums up his design philosophy, which advocated for the elimination of unnecessary ornamentation and a return to the fundamental principles of architecture.

After the Bauhaus was shut down by the Natzi regime, he emigrated to Chicago. There he became the director of the IIT School of Architecture, as well as ran his own architectural firm. During his years in Chicago he continued to explore and promote the principles of the International Style, and had a huge impact on the development of modern skyscrapers.

His legacy can not only be found spread throughout Europe and the US in the shape of iconic buildings such as the German Pavilion, the Tugendhat House, the Crown Hall or the Seagram Building, but also in the architecture curriculum he developed at the IIT which greatly influenced many generations of architects, even to this day.

Mies Van Der Rohe

Mies van der Rohe was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline, which usually involves many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building a reality:

  • C.F.Murphy Associates in charge of Structural Engineering
  • IBM Company as the Main Developer

Architectural Style

The 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building can be categorized as an International Style building.

The international style originated in Europe in the early 20th century, and made its way to the US a couple of decades later when the rise of the Nazi regime forced figures such as Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, or Mies van der Rohe to flee Europe.

The International Style emerged as a response to the prevailing historicism and ornate architecture styles of the late 19th century, which according to a younger generation of architects didn't represent the new materials and construction techniques that were on the rise at the time.

Architecture in the early 20th century US was marked by the adoption of steel structures, modern construction techniques, and the rise of the skyscraper. As it turns out, this combination of circumstances created the perfect ecosystem for the International Style to flourish, becoming the to-go style for skyscraper designs during the mid-20th century, when American cities were growing fast.

The International Style’s legacy can not only be found in numerous iconic buildings across all major American cities, but also incorporated in contemporary architecture, which still puts a big emphasis on functionality and minimalism.

The 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building was designed in 1968. By 1968 the International Style movement had already left its early days behind and could be considered a mature movement, which does not mean it was loved and accepted by everyone, on the contrary. The International Style was accepted by the architecture community way before it was by the general public, and it is therefore likely that the 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building was not well received by everyone at the time.

Spaces & Uses

The 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building reaches an architectural height of 669ft (204m), 696ft (212m) if you count the antenna. It has a total of 52 floors, served by 36 elevators.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1972, the 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building has mainly been used as Commercial space, with other complementary uses such as hotel space.

About the Hotel

The hotel is a 5 stars category hotel, with a total of 316 rooms available to the public. The name of the hotel is Langham Hotel.

696ft (212m)
669ft (204m)

Materials & Structure

The 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a classical Mies curtain wall, similar to the ones found at the Seagram Building in NYC and other skyscrapers designed by Mies.

At street level the facade is retracted, leaving the perimeter structural columns exposed, and creating a gallery that connects it to the surrounding plaza and protects the recessed glass-clad lobby. The curtain wall terminates above the lobby level.

The windows of the curtain wall feature bronze-tinted glass with dark anodized aluminum sunshades and mullions beneath each of them, outlining their structure. Double glazing was used in the curtain wall to combat the entry of heat and cold into the spaces, creating an unprecedented thickness in this type of facade.

Other materials found at the 330 N. Wabash Avenue Building include, travertine, another of Mies's favorite materials, found in large slabs covering the walls of the lobby, polished pink granite, used in the floor tiles of the lobby and the plaza, and plastic thermal insulation, used between the exterior and interior layers of the curtain wall.


  • www.chicago.gov
  • npgallery.nps.gov