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Reliance Building

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Identification

Reliance Building
Hotel Burnham
117626

Map

Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
steel
terra-cotta
curtain wall
white
chicago school

Usages

hotel
restaurant

Facts

  • Because of staggered lease expirations in the previous five-story building, the Reliance was built in two phases: the lower 2 floors in 1890-1891, and the upper 14 in 1894-1895.
  • While the lower two floors stood alone, there was a light well in the southwest corner to illuminate the store inside.
  • Original plans for the building were drawn by architect John Wellborn Root, but after his death it was redesigned by Charles B. Atwood. Only the first two floors survive from Root's plan.
  • The Reliance Building was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1970, and became a city landmark on 11 July 1975.
  • Late in the 20th century the building was nearly vacant, with the facade falling apart and the original cornice missing.
  • The Atwood Café in the hotel lobby is named after the building's principal architect, Charles B. Atwood of D.H. Burnham & Co. Atwood also designed Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry and the Fisher Building.
  • The steel framework for the top ten floors was erected in only fifteen days.
  • Before construction of the Reliance, the site was occupied by the 5-story headquarters of the First National Bank of Chicago.
  • The original retail tenant in 1891 was Carson Pirie Scott & Company, which later took over a new building one block south (the Sullivan Center).
  • The original Carson Pirie Scott Store at the base was decorated inside with English alabaster walls, mahogany woodwork, marble mosaic floors, and murals by William Pretyman on the ceilings.
  • The exterior was cleaned and restored in 1995, and by 1999 the building re-opened as the Hotel Burnham after a meticulous interior restoration.
  • During construction of the lower two floors, the upper 3 floors of the older building were jacked up and accessed by tenants via a temporary stairway.
  • With its open, glassy facade and large window area, this building is often cited as a forerunner of modern all-glass skyscrapers.
  • The lobby, elevator doors, and stairway are decorated with extensive iron grillwork.

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More Information

Location

32 North State Street
1 West Washington Street
32 North State Street
60602
Loop
Downtown
Chicago
Illinois
U.S.A.

Technical Data

201.66 ft
201.66 ft
201.66 ft
84.83 ft
55.83 ft
15
1894
1895

Involved Companies


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Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • City landmark
  • National landmark
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