Chicago’s Greatest Architectural Spots | Hotel EMC2

Chicago’s Greatest Architectural Spots

Chicago is chock full of impressive architectural spots, including impressive skyscrapers, iconic Art Deco constructions, and masterful works of engineering. When you visit Chicago, you’ll definitely want to visit some of the city’s most famous architectural feats, whether you decide to see them by walking around or by going on one of the many architectural tours available. Here’s a list of Chicago’s greatest architectural spots that you definitely can’t miss visiting on your next trip.

Wrigley Building

Standing at the gateway of the Magnificent Mile, the Wrigley Building resides next to the intersection of the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue. This iconic building was completed in 1924 and built to serve as headquarters for the Wrigley Company. The brilliant building is made of white stone which illuminates the city lights around it at night and has a two-story-tall clock face on its front facade. The Wrigley Building provides a perfect spot to take photos during your trip to the city.

Tribune Tower

The Tribune Tower, located across the street from the Wrigley Building, was built as a result of an architectural competition held by the Chicago Tribune in 1922. It was the Chicago Tribune’s 75th anniversary that year, and the winner of the competition would be in charge of designing the “most beautiful building in the world.” The winning architects, John Mead Howells and Raymond M. Hood, designed a gothic revival tower, reminiscent of Medieval Europe with a cathedral-like style. The 36-story tower is made with a steel frame and Indiana limestone, and was completed in 1925.

Marina City

Marina City, designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg, is one design that you won’t be able to miss as you walk along the Chicago Riverwalk. The one-of-a-kind, twin rotund buildings stand out alongside the Chicago River, where most buildings have sharp angles. When the towers were first completed in 1964, they contained both living and office spaces—however, they now solely house condominiums, a hotel, and the House of Blues theater. 

150 North Riverside Plaza

At 150 N Riverside Plaza, you’ll find a jaw-dropping engineering feat. Completed recently in 2017 and designed by the renowned firm Goettsch Partners, this 54-story building’s foundation exists solely on a tiny piece of land along the Chicago River. When you view the building up close along the River, you’ll be able to see the building angle sharply inwards at the bottom, to provide enough space for trains coming from Ogilvie Transportation Center. 

The Rookery

First built in 1888, the Rookery, located on LaSalle Street, has a long architectural history. This elegant building once held the offices of architects Daniel Burnham and John Root, who worked from the building while planning the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Later on, in 1905, architect Frank Lloyd Wright updated the building to include a light court with a glass ceiling, white marble columns, and golden geometric patterns. The building is also known for its beautiful sweeping staircases, and especially for its very photogenic oriel staircase, which descends down from the 12th floor to the 2nd floor on the building’s western side. The Rookery displays ornamental features from the late Roman, Venetian, Moorish, and medieval-European eras. 


Completed in 1930, this ginormous building, designed by architect Alfred P. Shaw, is more than 4 million square feet, which is the equivalent of two-and-a-half city blocks. When it was first completed, it contained the Marshall Field’s wholesale warehouse. If you enjoy art, then you’ll definitely want to head to the Chicago Riverwalk, where you’ll be able to watch Art on theMART, the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, where contemporary artwork is projected across the 2.5-acre facade of theMART. Art on theMART projections will resume in the springtime this year, but if you can’t wait, you can watch last fall’s projections here.

Civic Opera House

Since its completion in 1926, Chicago’s famous Civic Opera House has been the home of the Chicago Lyric Opera. Located along the Chicago River between Washington and Madison, the limestone skyscraper has a 45-story office tower and two 22-story wings. The firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White designed the throne-like structure to feature both Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles.

Willis Tower

The Willis Tower, which used to be known as the Sears Tower, is the second tallest building in the Western hemisphere at 110 stories. Currently, it houses an observation deck, called Skydeck Chicago, which attracts people from all over the world who are visiting Chicago. Skydeck Chicago offers visitors unobstructed views 1,353 feet straight down through a series of glass bays on the 103rd floor. If you plan to visit Skydeck Chicago in the future, make sure to check their website to see if they are currently open to visitors.

Carbide & Carbon Building

Resembling a green and gold champagne bottle, the Carbide & Carbon Building, located on Michigan Avenue, stands out amongst the traditional black and grey hued buildings of the city. This building, completed in 1929, stands out with its green terra cotta tiles and golden spire and accents. This spring, the Carbide & Carbon Building will be home to the new Pendry Hotel.

875 North Michigan Ave

Formerly known as the John Hancock Center, this industrial skyscraper towers over the Chicago skyline. This lofty structure was completed in 1969 and is an example of late-20th century architecture. One of the skyscraper’s most popular attractions is 360 Chicago, an observation deck located 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile. While at 360 Chicago, visitors can see 360-degree views of the city, and will also have the opportunity to experience TILT, a moving platform that tilts you over Michigan Avenue. If you plan to visit 360 Chicago in the future, be sure to check their website to make sure they are currently open to visitors.

Planning your visit to Chicago

Whether you choose to visit Chicago now or in the future, you’ll have a unique and thrilling experience, not to mention all of the stunning architectural spots that you’ll be able to see. After you’ve selected your travel dates, you’ll need to decide where you’ll stay on your trip. Consider booking a hotel located in the heart of the city, close to nearly everything—as well as many of these top architectural feats. Next up, pack your bags with essentials like comfortable shoes and a face covering to keep you safe and healthy. Now you’re ready for your upcoming trip to Chicago filled with breathtaking adventures and spectacular sights.

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