Michigan Plaza North

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

The Michigan Plaza North is an International Style skyscraper designed by Fujikawa Johnson & Associates and built between 1980 and 1981 in Chicago, IL.

Michigan Plaza North is not the only name you might know this building by though. The building is, or has also been known as Boulevard Towers North.

Its precise street address is 225 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

The 25-story Michigan Plaza North building, along with the 44-story Michigan Plaza South, is one of two adjacent interconnected high-rise office buildings with associated retail space and underground parking, constituting the complex known as Michigan Plaza.

The building has been restored 2 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 2000 and 2002.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
years ago
  1. 2000 - A bold red canopy was placed at the entrance of the buildings. The architect in charge was FGM Architects.
  2. 2002 - A complete renovation of the common lobby, the elevator cabs, the retail places and the outdoor plaza. The architect in charge was RAK.

Architect and team

Fujikawa Johnson & Associates was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Fujikawa Johnson & Associates is the closest to a continuation of the firm Mies van der Rohe ran in Chicago almost from the day he left Germany until he passed away in 1969.

The Chicago-based firm, which still remains active, designed many buildings which one could easily mistake for Mies’s. Both founding partners worked for Mies and even remained as partners at his practice after he died, until they left to form their own practice in 1982.

Fujikawa in particular was known to be a big advocate of the “less is more”, steel and glass aesthetic that Mies promoted. In the words of his associates, sometimes it even seemed like Fujikawa wanted to be more like Mies than Mies himself!

Fujikawa Johnson & 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 Michigan Plaza North a reality:

  • Alfred Benesh and Company in charge of Structural Engineering
  • Metropolitan Structures Inc as the Main Contractor
  • Metropolitan Structures Inc as the Main Developer
  • Cosentini Associates Inc in charge of MEP Engineering

Architectural Style

The Michigan Plaza North 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 Michigan Plaza North reaches an architectural height of 335ft (102m). It has a total of 28 floors, 25 above ground and 3 basements, which combined offer a total of 969,052 sqf (90,028m2) of usable space.

In regards to parking space, the building has a total of 565 spots available, which roughly equals 23 spots per floor (above ground), or one parking spot per every 1,711 sqf (159m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1981, the Michigan Plaza North has mainly been used as Commercial space.

335ft (102m)
3 basements

Materials & Structure

The Michigan Plaza North uses a frame structure made of 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 is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a dark curtain wall made of dark anodized bronze aluminum and bronze tinted glass.

Like all buildings inspired by Mies's designs in this area of Chicago, the 25-story tower rises on steel structural columns visible at ground level, creating a glass-enclosed setback used for retail stores.

The main entrance is shared with the Michigan Plaza South Building. This entrance, located on Michigan Plaza, is the one to which a distinctive red canopy, designed by FGM Architects, was added in 2002.