1 East Wacker, located on the north edge of Chicago’s Loop, opened in 1962. It was built by an insurance company, the same company, after several name changes, that owns it today. With 4″ thick white marble cladding and stainless steel window frames, 1 East Wacker is a high quality building that has stood the test of time.
The style spans generations – while the clean simple lines of the exterior belong to sixties modernism, they’re rooted in Streamline Moderne, an earlier form of modernism closely associated with Art Deco.
As clean and simple as the exterior was, inside it was showing its age. Like most office towers that have been leasing space for decades, 1 East Wacker’s interior had a mishmash of public spaces, the result of tenant buildouts and multiple remodeling campaigns. Graham, Anderson, Probst and White was retained over a period of three years to carry out several projects aimed at unifying the public space while upgrading the rentability of the building. I led all the projects, which improved lobbies, security, toilet facilities and corridors.
The elevator lobby and connecting public corridors on each floor were given new finishes that built on existing elements like the black elevator entry trim, while introducing fresh new carpet and wallcovering. New lighting wall sconces were used to relate to the main floor lobby, and a simple coved ceiling tied the space together.
Public toilets are often neglected in office buildings. This building had a variety of toilet room finishes, including some that were original to the 1962 construction. The toilet rooms were given a substantial upgrade with materials that relate to the lobby finishes.
Moving away from the traditional mosaic tile typically used in public restrooms, I specified much larger porcelain tile for the floors and plumbing walls. This achieved a number of important things – it gave the building a more modern image, enhanced cleanability, and enriched the image while controlling costs.
Black granite, the same as that used for the building base and the elevator lobby borders, was used for the sink counter. Towel dispensers and waste disposal were recessed into the counter to minimize clutter and water drips on the floor.
The toilet stall area had major upgrades. The stall dividers, originally painted and often rusty, were replaced with stainless steel. Not only do the stainless partitions relate to the building’s stainless window frames, they also expand the sense of space in this somewhat confined area. Without paint, durability is enhanced, as well as cleanability. Wall sconces were also added to supplement the previous all-downlight lighting.
These upgrades have been well received by the tenants, both existing and prospective. By addressing such seemingly mundane areas as lobbies, corridors and restrooms, the owner has demonstrated their commitment to their tenant’s pride and well being. It has also reinforced the long term viability of the building they created and care for.
I performed all design, development, documentation, material and color selection and construction administration of the above projects while an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. All photos, drawings and renderings in this post are created by me.