Mid-Continental Plaza

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

The Mid-Continental Plaza is an International Style skyscraper designed by Shaw and Associates and built between 1969 and 1972 in Chicago, IL.

Mid-Continental Plaza 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:

  • The Park Monroe.
  • 55-65 East Monroe from 2013 until this day.

Its precise street address is 55 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

The two-story lobby with gardens and artworks, accessible through three different entrances, allows the public to move between Monroe and Adams streets, giving something back to the public space.

The building underwent a major restoration in 2013. The architect commissioned to undertake this restoration was Pappageorge Haymes Partners.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
years ago
  1. 2013 - The last 10 floors of the building were adapted for residential use, requiring an intervention on the facade to give it a different character from the rest of the building. The condominium is called Monroe Park, and the rest of the building changed its name to 55 East Monroe. The project involved segretating the lower floors so that they could be independently accessed. The architect in charge was Pappageorge Haymes Partners.

Architect and team

Shaw and Associates was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Shaw 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 Mid-Continental Plaza a reality:

  • William Schmidt & Associates in charge of Structural Engineering
  • Crane Construction Company as the Main Contractor

Architectural Style

The Mid-Continental 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 Mid-Continental Plaza reaches an architectural height of 584ft (178m). It has a total of 51 floors, 49 above ground and 2 basements.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1972, the Mid-Continental Plaza has mainly been used as Commercial space, with other complementary uses such as residential space.

584ft (178m)
2 basements

Materials & Structure

The Mid-Continental Plaza 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 narrow fixed glass curtain that covers the majority of the facade, forming a pattern of thin vertical steel lines.

The renovation undertaken on the top 10 floors to convert them into residences led to some exterior change at these levels, replacing the existing slim windows with larger operable ones that go from floor to ceiling, and adding recessed balconies.

Another material found at the Mid-Continental Plaza is granite, used in the public lobby .