Chase Tower

Chase Tower
  1. About the Chase Tower in Chicago
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Chase Tower is an International Style skyscraper designed by Charles Murphy, in association with Perkins and Will, and built between 1964 and 1969 in Chicago, IL.

Chase Tower 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 First National Bank between 1969 and 1998.
  • One First National Plaza between 1969 and 1998.
  • Bank One Tower between 1998 and 2005.
  • Chase Tower from 2005 until this day.

Its precise street address is 10 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

The project takes up the entire block, although the building doesn't. The project included a public plaza to go with the building from the very begining, just like the Seagram Building did a few years earlier in New York. In this particular case the plaza sunks beneath the street level, creating a more elaborate entrance to the building.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
One First National Plaza
Bank One Tower
Chase Tower
years ago

Architect and team

Charles Murphy was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design, in association with Perkins and Will. But there was also one other architect involved, as far as we know. We are talking about Stanislaw Z. Gladych.

Charles Murphy and the other architects already mentioned were 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 Chase Tower a reality:

  • Perkins+Will in charge of Structural Engineering
  • First National Bank of Chicago as the Main Developer
  • Marc Chagall as the collaborating Artist

Architectural Style

The Chase Tower 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 Chase Tower was completed in 1969. By 1969 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 Chase Tower was not well received by everyone at the time.

Spaces & Uses

The Chase Tower reaches an architectural height of 868ft (264.6m). It has a total of 61 floors, served by 50 elevators, which combined offer a total of 2,199,980 sqf (204,385m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1969, the Chase Tower has mainly been used as Commercial space.

868ft (264.6m)

Materials & Structure

The Chase Tower uses a frame structure made of steel columns and 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 of the building however, is load bearing. This doesn't imply that it is a traditional load-bearing wall. Rather, it means that the structure's exterior pillars have been pushed to the very edges, becoming integrated with the facade, and therefore, technically, a part of it.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a sloping silhouette that sets the building apart from all its squared neighbors. The sloping facades are vertically divided by 8 massive structural pillars clad in a light-grey colored marble, which run all the way up to the top of the building.