Columbus Plaza

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

The Columbus Plaza is an International Style skyscraper designed by Fujikawa Conterato Lohan and Associates and built between 1978 and 1980 in Chicago, IL.

Its precise street address is 233 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

Columbus Plaza is one of the few buildings connected to Chicago's underground Pedway, providing interior access to restaurants, shops, and offices throughout the Loop.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
years ago

Architect and team

Fujikawa Conterato Lohan and Associates was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Fujikawa Conterato Lohan and Associates 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 Columbus Plaza a reality:

  • Alfred Benesch & Company in charge of Structural Engineering
  • McHugh-Levin Associates as the Main Developer

Architectural Style

The Columbus Plaza 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.

Spaces & Uses

The Columbus Plaza reaches an architectural height of 469ft (143m). It has a total of 47 floors.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1980, the Columbus Plaza has mainly been used as Residential space.

About the residences

The Columbus Plaza has a total of 533 residential units throughout its 47 floors.

469ft (143m)

Materials & Structure

The Columbus Plaza uses a frame structure made of cast-in-place concrete columns and beams.

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 5 bays on the wider side, each with six windows, and 4 bays on the narrow side, each with four windows, created by the structural pillars that are embedded on the facade.

The ground floor is shielded by tinted glass panels framed in metal, and the main entrance is protected by a concrete pergola with coffered ceilings .