State Street towers closer to salvation 

Landmark designation recommended to City Council

State Street Towers Closer to Landmark Designation
Preservation Chicago's Ward Miller with The Century Building and Consumers Building (Chicago Architecture Foundation, Google Maps, Getty)

A pair of historic State Street towers are closer to being saved from the federal government’s wrecking ball.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks unanimously recommended that City Council protect the Century Building at 202 South State Street and Consumers Building at 220 South State Street as historically or architecturally significant, Crain’s reported

These structures, built over a century ago and owned by the federal government since 2005, face potential demolition to enhance security around the nearby Dirksen federal courthouse. Preservationists have vehemently opposed the demolition plan since early 2022, when Congress allocated $52 million to raze the buildings and other low-rise structures in between them. 

The recommendation by the landmarks commission sets the stage for a potential clash with the General Services Administration, which is evaluating the demolition proposal. If City Council approves landmark status early next year, it would hinder the GSA’s demolition, slated for the spring.

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Architect Dirk Lohan emphasized the buildings’ architectural significance, advocating for landmark status as a barrier to demolition. Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, presented more than 23,900 signatures in support. The GSA, which is purportedly neutral on the demolition project, conveyed through a letter that it aims to complete its investigation before taking a position, the outlet reported. 

Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, expressing security concerns, previously endorsed demolition. However, the GSA’s draft report in September suggested a potential shift, noting that adaptive reuse would have a beneficial impact on the area’s economy and historic integrity.

The federal government acquired the buildings in 2005 due to a bomb threat made in 2004, but public sentiment and opposition have grown since Sen. Dick Durbin endorsed the demolition plan in April 2022. 

—Quinn Donoghue 

Read more

Preservationists Push for Restoring State Street Towers
Preservationists push for restoring State Street towers
Lohan Anderson's Dirk Lohan, Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago and State Street towers at 202 and 220 South State Street in Chicago
Preservationists score step toward city saving State Street towers
Consumer and Century buildings with Landmark Illinois' Bonnie McDonald
State Street towers make national list of most endangered places
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