A landscaped plaza fills out the building lot on the north and east sides, with views of the Lakeshore East complex.
The building's site was chosen because of its good land value at the time, and has little to do with the fact that other large insurance companies are located nearby. (Aon for instance moved next door later.)
The elevators facing the atrium are enclosed in translucent fritted glass so as not to give riders vertigo.
The building won separate Honor Awards from the American Institute of Architects in 1998 for its overall and interior design.
The 33-story first phase was started in 1995 and completed in 1997. The 24-story second phase started in 2007 and was completed in 2010.
The building was designed to be built in two phases to meet an expected need for additional space.
The facade facing Grant Park is sometimes used at night as an illuminated billboard, displaying words formed by opening and closing window shades.
Fritted glass is used extensively throughout the building: on the facade, in the elevators, and on interior partitions around the atrium.
The lobby's centerpiece is an oval reception desk with an oval halo hanging overhead. These round forms are mirrored 14 floors higher by the 'Shaker Lodge' meeting room.
Unlike most composite-structure skyscrapers, the majority of elevators in this building are located outside the concrete service cores.
The piers on the east and west facades are clad in granite, giving this building the last full-height original facade of any high-rise built in Chicago using any kind of natural stone.
The facade materials were chosen to show mimimal aging, so that the future vertical addition would show no visible discontinuity.
A large signboard on the lower level of the lobby holds plaques dedicated to the insurance company's 100 largest customers.
A circular stone Shaker lodge was built in the middle of the 15th floor to house the executive meeting room.
Architect James Goettsch of Goettsch Partners was the designer for the project. The first phase was completed under the firm name of Lohan Associates (now Goettsch Partners).
This was the only office high-rise constructed in Chicago between 1992 and 1999. It was built in a glutted market, but Blue Cross required a large block of contiguous space which was not available elsewhere.