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  #1  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 3:10 AM
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Cool CHICAGO | NBC Tower | 627 FT / 191 M | 37 FLOORS | 1989

As there was no thread for the NBC Tower in Chicago yet i thought i make one. Here are my pics of it from my autumn visit.

backside:


frontside:






Feel free to add more
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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 4:28 AM
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This is one of the few postmodern buildings that don't really bother me.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 5:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 View Post
This is one of the few postmodern buildings that don't really bother me.
Right, it actually looks like it was built during the 1920's at first glance. Crud. I did think it was until now.

Last edited by scalziand; Jan 14, 2009 at 7:42 AM.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 5:26 AM
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This is one tower in Chicago that I just loathe. It's such an obvious caricature of the GE Building at Rockefeller Center. It attempts to soar like GE with the darkened vertical strips running up the east and west sides, but the squat proportions quash any verticality that is achieved. The toy-like "spire" that is placed on the far side of an otherwise symmetric building looks awkward, and in case that wasn't quite unbalanced enough there is a bright and cheesy NBC logo slapping the observer in the face. Yuck. It is surrounded by quite a few parking lots, too, which gives it unwarranted and unfortunate prominence. I can't wait until the lots in the vicinity of this pile are developed, forever obscuring any views from the distance I already deliberately keep from it.

OK so that last bit was dramatic but entirely warranted.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 7:04 AM
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^Agreed. It (along with AT&T Center) was clearly a step backward for SOM Chicago.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 7:07 AM
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^Ha, I was going to comment in my post about how a great and better example of late-80s/early-90s Post Modernist architecture is the AT&T Center. Not that you made any comparisons of value between the two, and I certainly agree that AT&T was a step backward (even though, to me, it is pleasant overall).
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  #7  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 5:26 PM
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this is Po-Mo that doesn't really bother me. NBC tower, along with AT&T corporate center, aren't my favorite buildings in the city, but they're far better than most of the other Po-Mo crap around town. these towers may have been a step backward for SOM chicago, but at least smith knew how to do Po-Mo right, unlike the KPF abominations.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 5:49 PM
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^And on that I would also totally agree. 311 S. Wacker is a completely schizophrenic tower, 900 N. Michigan is incredibly fussy and oddly topped, etc, etc... (insert Lucien LaGrange quip here)...2PRU (could a firm wish any harder that they were as good as Jahn)?...

Out of all the major towers in Chicago of that era (85-95), AT&T is one of the better ones...and that's not saying much.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 6:02 PM
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^Yup. Although, 311 S. Wacker at least captured some of the whimsy and spirit of the Post Modern movement (whether or not those motions produced anything worthwhile is another matter). The designers took some classic design cues and ornament, and just completely, well, screwed with them:

"How about a giant-ass lantern on top?"

"Sure! But how about four more little tiny ones around the big-ass one?"

"Go for it!"

The results are certainly a mixed-bag, but the massing is nothing if not interesting and, yes, schizophrenic. My biggest complaint is how they treated the site they were given. This is Chicago, people; not Atlanta.

At any rate, NBC did not attempt to free-wheel in the way that some of the designs around the same era did; instead, we got a completely re-imagined GE Tower that managed to be less imaginative than the original.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 6:25 PM
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It's kind of mind-boggling to think this was produced from roughly the same era as 333 Wacker. I do think NBC compares the most favorably to all the towers cited above, though. The (obvious) references to Tribune (heretofore unmentioned?) dilute your argument, Jibba, that it's merely a caricature of GE. Overall I find it pretty benign, and actually pleasing in the wake of Park Tower and the Elysian.

And AT&T? Blech! No thanks. It looks like a taser.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 7:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jibba View Post
My biggest complaint is how they treated the site they were given.
I was recently talking to my Uncle who is in the development industry and he told me they originally intended to have 3 towers on the site. that might explain some of the land use. I'm not sure if that is what you were talking about though.

BTW, I think 2 pru and AT&T are very nice buildings.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 7:30 PM
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^Now that you mention it I do recall seeing a proposal for multiple towers on that site. I would like to know whether or not these additional spawn were axed prior to the building of the tower we have now or not. The elongated entry arcade seems to suggest that they were canceled prior to the original getting built, but perhaps this entrance was to be used for all three towers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ch.G, Ch.G View Post
It's kind of mind-boggling to think this was produced from roughly the same era as 333 Wacker. I do think NBC compares the most favorably to all the towers cited above, though. The (obvious) references to Tribune (heretofore unmentioned?) dilute your argument, Jibba, that it's merely a caricature of GE. Overall I find it pretty benign, and actually pleasing in the wake of Park Tower and the Elysian.

And AT&T? Blech! No thanks. It looks like a taser.
My dislike for NBC doesn't entirely hinge on the allusions to GE in its design and the failure of those allusions in their inception. There are certainly other aspects about the design to dislike (including the aforementioned proportions and ornament placement), but the point I was making about its pretentious and failed attempt at a graceful Deco tower sums up its downsides for me nicely.

For whatever reason I see no reminiscence of Tribune Tower in the design, although I will admit that my comparisons of NBC and GE stem from analyses that are slightly more pondering than knee-jerk: perhaps if I took a closer look visual relationships with Tribune would be revealed. Within which particular aspects of each design do you find a resemblance and/or a similar approach?

Also, do you really find NBC to be of higher aesthetic value than AT&T et al.? Not that there is anything wrong with that if you do, but it would run counter to what I have thus-far inferred about your taste (although I know you harbor a strong dislike for Lagrange's Gold Coast work [as do I]).
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  #13  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2009, 11:00 PM
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I have always thought that NBC Tower was built with two towers in mind. I keep seeing a 700-900 footer just like in New York. I bet thats why there is a vacant space next to the tower entrance. Its as if they were going to develop another tower but ran out of capital.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jan 15, 2009, 12:09 AM
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A parallel tower was planned due north.
I had an illustration of it/I'll try and find it.
I remember there was something strange going on with it ;
and was probably best left unbuilt.

Here is a description from Inland Architecture Jan/Feb 1990

"For the fraternal twin tower due for the north end of the NBC complex,
Smith would repeat the NBC south elevation on its north side, in effect
creating bookends that match on either end.
But, for the south elevation of the north tower, facing NBC,
Smith deflects views away from the neighbor
with a curved wall of glass that works off a wedge-shaped core.
In elevation the proposal looks suspiciously stylish and deconstructive.
At the top, a floating roof element replaces the NBC spire and gives the north tower
the post-modern haircut increasingly popular today (1990)."
-Cynthia Chapin Davidson
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  #15  
Old Posted Jan 15, 2009, 12:36 AM
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From the same article I just quoted above,
there is this description of the NBC (south)Tower.

"The 40-story NBC Tower is a flat slab building, the result both of a structural program for column-free floors, and of having to build within the urban design guideline established for Cityfront Center by Cooper-Eckstut, in which SOM was also involved. The element affecting form is the setback at 20 stories, which is both where the Tribune Tower sets back and the mandate of the City's original 1923 zoning law. The first setback at NBC is "just a ripple" at the 11th floor. The major setback, seven and a half feet deep, occurs at the 20th floor, where buttresses echoing those at the Tribune summit carry live loads to the outer wall from the floors above. The third setback, at the 35th floor, is less significant, and from there the building jumps quickly to a crown."
Inland Architecture magazine, Jan/Feb 1990


Just knowing that the buttresses are actually buttressing [sic] help me appreciate the building more.
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  #16  
Old Posted Jan 15, 2009, 1:25 AM
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Echo-Deco at its best!!!
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  #17  
Old Posted Jan 15, 2009, 5:05 PM
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^Hey that's a cool term for it!

I find it so hard to believe that this was the dominant style 20 years ago. It's practically architectural murder for a firm to try something like that these days.

My biggest issue with this one is the setbacks...there are way too many. That and the oversized windows make it look over-proportioned. And what is it clad in? So many of these po-mo towers have that matte taupe colour that really bothers me. Is there finer detailing up close or is that blank looking at any distance?
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  #18  
Old Posted Jan 15, 2009, 5:47 PM
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^^^ I think its clad in some kind of granite, which is funny because almost all real Deco in Chicago was clad with Limestone...
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  #19  
Old Posted Jan 15, 2009, 6:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 View Post
^^^ I think its clad in some kind of granite, which is funny because almost all real Deco in Chicago was clad with Limestone...
Nope. NBC tower is clad with real honest to goodness limestone just like most of the other real-deal deco towers from the 20s/30s.

when it comes to echo deco, this building is really one of the best that i've ever seen.
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  #20  
Old Posted Jan 15, 2009, 6:19 PM
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^^^ Really? Maybe I'm just seeing things, I've always thought it too dark to be limestone. Isn't there granite around the base or something?
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