Michigan Plaza South

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

The Michigan Plaza South is an International Style skyscraper designed by Fujikawa Johnson & Associates and built in 1985 in Chicago, IL.

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

Its precise street address is 205 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

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

The building underwent a major restoration in 2000. The architect commissioned to undertake this restoration was FGM Architects.

Building's timeline

Construction completed
years ago
  1. 2000 - A bold red canopy was placed at the entrance of the buildings, during the plaza restoration. The architect in charge was FGM Architects.

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 South 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 South 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 South reaches an architectural height of 554ft (169m). It has a total of 46 floors, 44 above ground and 2 basements, which combined offer a total of 983,196 sqf (91,342m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1985, the Michigan Plaza South has mainly been used as Commercial space.

554ft (169m)
2 basements

Materials & Structure

The Michigan Plaza South 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 bronze-colored aluminum and glass curtain wall, with metallic mullions stylizing the windows like in the traditional Mies's style.

The main entrance at Michigan Plaza is shared with Michigan Plaza North.