Two Illinois Center

Two Illinois Center
  1. About the Two Illinois Center in Chicago
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Two Illinois Center is an International Style skyscraper designed by Mies van der Rohe, with Fujikawa Conterato Lohan Associates as lead architect, and built between 1970 and 1972 in Chicago, IL.

Its precise street address is 233 N. Michigan Av, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

Together with One Illinois Center, Two Illinois Center comprises the Illinois Center, which is primarily dedicated to office space.

The streets that intersect the complex are structured on three levels: the middle level facilitates direct traffic, the lower level is designated for service vehicles, and the upper level handles local traffic.

Within the building’s underground pedestrian walkway, a vibrant community of commercial services caters to the general public. This area is connected to three levels of underground parking that are shared across the entire complex, which also includes four hotels and provides access to both the El and Metra train lines.

The building underwent a major restoration in 2018. The architect commissioned to undertake this restoration was Goettsch Partners.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
years ago
  1. 2018 - This renovation included the lobby and the outdoor space, which saw renovated walkways, stairs, escalators, canopies, and installation of new cobblestones, planters, and seating areas in the square. The architect in charge was Goettsch Partners.

Architect and team

Mies van der Rohe, with Fujikawa Conterato Lohan Associates as the lead architect, was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born in 1886 in Germany. During the first part of his career, he ran his own practice in Berlin, and later on became the director of the Bauhaus School of Architecture.

Mies is considered one of the fathers of modern architecture. His work played an instrumental role in defining the aesthetics of the International Style, emphasizing simplicity, clean lines, and the use of modern materials like steel and glass. His famous statement, "less is more" sums up his design philosophy, which advocated for the elimination of unnecessary ornamentation and a return to the fundamental principles of architecture.

After the Bauhaus was shut down by the Natzi regime, he emigrated to Chicago. There he became the director of the IIT School of Architecture, as well as ran his own architectural firm. During his years in Chicago he continued to explore and promote the principles of the International Style, and had a huge impact on the development of modern skyscrapers.

His legacy can not only be found spread throughout Europe and the US in the shape of iconic buildings such as the German Pavilion, the Tugendhat House, the Crown Hall or the Seagram Building, but also in the architecture curriculum he developed at the IIT which greatly influenced many generations of architects, even to this day.

Mies Van Der Rohe

Architectural Style

The Two Illinois Center 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 Two Illinois Center reaches an architectural height of 374ft (114m). It has a total of 38 floors, 32 above ground and 6 basements, which combined offer a total of 1,082,999 sqf (100,614m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1972, the Two Illinois Center has mainly been used as Commercial space.

374ft (114m)
6 basements

Materials & Structure

The Two Illinois Center uses a frame structure made of columns and reinforced concrete slabs.

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 curtain wall made of bronze-colored anodized aluminum and polarized glass windows.

At the base the facade takes a step back, leaving the columns exposed and creating an open public gallery, as it is usually the case in Mies's buildings.