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Straus Building, Continental National Insurance Company Building, Britannica Centre
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Structure in General
The 20-foot beehive beacon is supported by 4 stone bisons, which symbolize industriousness, thrift, and strength.
The Straus Building was the first building in Chicago with 30 or more floors.
For several years the building was occupied by Continental National Insurance, the predecessor to CNA, which built the
complex as a western extension of this building.
CNA Plaza North
was the first of CNA's extensions to the west, with contiguous floor connections between the two structures.
Referred to as Britannica Centre since 1980, the building will soon be converting into 220 luxury condominium units and will be renamed Metropolitan Tower on the Park.
An open light court rises above the banking hall, directly behind the tower.
The previous Straus Building was a 10-story structure at the northwest corner of Clark and Madison Streets. It was demolished in 1941.
The beehive originally held 4 searchlights which shone in the 4 cardinal directions.
The carillon bells were unused for many years until they were restored in 1979 by then-owner Dino D'Angelo for the Chicago visit of Pope John Paul II.
The building was originally named after S.W. Straus & Co., a dealer of investment bonds and one of the leading financers of major real estate in Chicago during the late 19th and early 20th century.
The main entrance used to be in the center of the east side, through the largest of the archways, leading directly up to the banking hall by a grand staircase.
The glass "beehive" ornament at the peak of the ziggurat holds a deep blue light, a prominent feature of Grant Park's night skyline. Before Christmas the light changes to green.
The original main entrance was a pair of elaborately carved bronze doors set in a marble portal flanked by bas-reliefs.
The lobby is L-shaped, connecting the east entrance on Michigan Avenue with Jackson Boulevard on the north.
A blank limestone plaque tops the center of the east base at the 4th floor level. It used to appear one floor higher with the inscription "S.W. Straus & Co.".
At the west end of the banking hall there was a large Florentine-style stained glass window depicting a 16th century full-rigged ship under allegorical figures of Art and Justice.
The side arcades of the banking hall were decorated with gold medallions representing various coins of the ancient world.
The tower contains four bells just beneath the beehive which chime G.F. Handel's "Cambridge Quarters" on the quarter-hours.
A spacious banking hall laid out like a basilica occupied the second floor, with a 45 foot high coffered ceiling and 16 Corinthian columns.
The base has been altered from its original design, with rectangular window openings replacing the giant arches on Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard.
Do you need more information about this building and its related companies?
Address as text
310 South Michigan Avenue
Michigan Avenue Landmark District
Floors (above ground)
Graham, Anderson, Probst & White
Also recorded for this building:
MEP engineering, check engineering, client, general contractor, lighting consultant, property management, real estate agent, structural engineering
Features & Amenities
Doorman is available
Exercise facility is available
Light court is present
Ornamental illumination is installed