Anchored on the Chicago River embankment this 50-storey office building represents a climactic milestone in the works of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura. It was designed in a “Modern Classical” style using Portuguese Royal white granite and silver-grey glass curtain wall.
The American tradition of skyscraper construction, with some especially attractive examples in Chicago, suggested the need to establish a dialogue between the classicism of stone architecture and the high-tech glass buildings. The result is a façade that reveals a design of classical proportions, which recalls Giotto’s campanile in Florence Cathedral, divided into different levels, linked by columns. A classically-proportioned temple crowns the top.
The building’s design sought to enhance panoramic views over the city, by means of an evident predominance of glass; it expresses the aspiration to inscribe itself in the existing urban context and makes its own distinctive contribution to Chicago’s skyline.
Particular attention was paid to the detailing and appearance of the ground floor housing an 18 m high atrium in gray and white marble. A unique museum quality monumental lobby includes sculptures from the internationally acclaimed Xavier Corberò, a large wall painting by world renowned Antonio Tapies, a black granite reflecting pond, and lush plantings of bamboo trees.
In 1992, the project was awarded Chicago’s Lighting Institute “Award of Merit to the lighting installation”.
The building became the corporate headquarters of United Airlines in 2007. Microsoft is a major tenant in the building, occupying multiple floors.
Today, 77 West Wacker Drive has become a respected landmark in the Chicago Business District.