A Million Times

Today’s building is the Smurfit Stone building at 150 N. Michigan Ave., requested by Kate. Remember, if you have a building you’re curious about, email me at margaret(at)chicagoelevated.com or leave a comment!

photo by eastsider72

photo by eastsider72

So the first thing I wanted to check with Smurfit Stone was, what exactly is it that Smurfit Stone does? Here is my answer, they are into:

developing innovative new packaging designs, providing global supply chain solutions, manufacturing the highest quality containerboard, managing a total waste management program, or delivering unparalleled service, Smurfit-Stone solves its customers needs from all sides.

Very good then.

The Smurfit Stone building is also known as the Stone Container Building or the Associates Center. After checking Wikipedia it also said it’s known as the “diamond building,” although I cannot think of one instance when I’ve ever heard it called that. I suppose people have wandered by and said “hey, what’s that building shaped like a diamond?” So, I could be wrong. But by that logic, the Sears (Willis, fine) Tower would be “that big building,” and the Hancock would be “that big building,” and the Aon Center would be “that big white building.” Minutiae!

The building was designed by Sheldon Schlegman of A. Epstein & Sons, (now just Epstein) and finished in 1984. A. Epstein & Sons also designed – among others – the Hyatt Regency Hotels in Illinois Center, we’ll get to those another day, trust me.

The building is not very tall, only 41 stories, that’s a little brother in a tall building city like Chicago. But it is undeniably the building that it is. It looks like the building is two halves, but it’s really only slightly recessed in the middle and then totally separated at the top. The diamond shape is obviously its biggest draw, it’s like the architects slashed the building in half, but did it on an angle, like one would cut flower stems.

It’s neat to see a skyscraper where the eye is drawn to the horizontal lines. Most tall buildings, if you look at them, emphasize their vertical lines, not the horizontal lines. I think a building that does naturally stands out.

I remember before I was a docent and really learned about architecture that the rumor was a lady designed it and she was tired of phallic buildings so she designed one to look like a vagina. This is untrue folks! Although, instead of the “Diamond Building” maybe people would call it the Vagina Building, which might be kind of fun. Let’s bring that back.

The building is “modern” in style, meaning it has no historical ornamentation, it’s very simple right? Mostly glass and aluminum, very “regular” with it’s horizontal striping, but it also has some “post-modernism” to it. Post-modernism added on what modernism took off. Modern buildings had no context to them, no real playfulness. Modern buildings are usually very stark and simple, yet this building is quite playful with it’s slanted roof and definitely has some context, with its shape being similar to the sailboats to the east and the diamond opens up right in front of Lake Michigan.

Edited to add: I have been accused of no Adventures in Babysitting reference! So here it is: This movie was used prominently in Adventures in Babysitting with Elisabeth Shue who was so cute in Curb Your Enthusiasm this week.

It also seems to take writing very well, maybe someday I’ll write a cool DaVinci Code type story where you can find all the clues on the outside of the Smurfit Stone Building. Then people would say “what’s all that writing all over the Vagina?” And that would not be the first time I would have to answer that question.

smurfit writing

6 thoughts on “A Million Times

  1. yeah, i always heard it was a lady, sick of phallic, vagina. i sometimes DO call it the vagina building. i’m sort of said it’s not true. now i just call it “the stone container building.”

    oh well, rumors. sometimes they are more fun. :/

  2. Simply want to say your article is impressive. The lucidity in your post is simply spectacular and i can take for granted you are an expert on this field. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the solid work

  3. Thank you so much! Your comment really pleases me. I hope you enjoy Chicago Elevated and let me know if there are any questions I can answer or any building you would like to see on A Million Times. Happy holidays!

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