NBC Tower

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

The NBC Tower is an Art-deco skyscraper designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with Adrian D. Smith as lead architect, and built in 1989 in Chicago, IL.

Its precise street address is 454 North Columbus Drive, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

Architect and team

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with Adrian D. Smith as the lead architect, was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Commonly known as SOM, the firm was founded in Chicago in 1936 and has grown to be one of the largest architecture firms in the world.

Even long after its founders passed away, SOM has remained at the top of worldwide architectural excellence by attracting visionary architects. Amongst their most notorious partners we find names such as Gordon Bunshaft, Bruce Graham, Walter Netsch, Adrian Smith, Myron Goldsmith or David Childs.

SOM has also managed to grow and evolve to tackle the architectural challenges of each time, whatever those might be, and today is committed to aspects as important as efficiency and sustainability, as core values of their designs.

With a legacy spanning decades, SOM continues to shape the skylines of cities around the world, and is a usual contestant in any competition or selection process to design large-scale or iconic buildings and structures.

Skidmore Owings Merrill

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill 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 NBC Tower a reality:

  • Morse Diesel International as the Main Contractor
  • Riggio / Boron in charge of Facade Consultancy

Architectural Style

The NBC Tower can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The NBC Tower was completed in 1989, significantly after what could be considered the end of the Art-Deco movement. It was clearly inspired by the movement, but because it doesen't really fit into the movement's timeline it would be considered as a post-movement or neo-movement.

Especially during modern times, there are less imposed rules when it comes to design. Variety and experimentation are welcome, and architects are given the freedom to take inspiration from a wide range of sources.

Looking at the past for inspiration can be a great starting point for an architectural project, and something which Skidmore, Owings & Merrill clearly took advantage of to design the NBC Tower. Architects may choose to look to the past for multiple reasons. It could be that they want the building to merge with an older surounding, give it the feeling of having been there for longer than it actualy has, personal preference or it might even be a requieremnt from the client.

Spaces & Uses

The NBC Tower reaches an architectural height of 561ft (171m), 627ft (191m) if you count the antenna, with the last accesible floor being 525ft (160m) off the gorund. It has a total of 40 floors, 37 above ground and 3 basements, served by 13 elevators. In total, it has a built-up area of 1,134,224 sqf (105,373m2) offering 896,633 sqf (83,300m2) of usable space.

In regards to parking space, the building has a total of 261 spots available, which roughly equals 7 spots per floor (above ground), or one parking spot per every 3,434 sqf (319m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1989, the NBC Tower has mainly been used as Commercial space.

627ft (191m)
561ft (171m)
525ft (160m)
3 basements

Materials & Structure

The NBC Tower uses a frame structure made of 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.