The Chicago Bar Association was conceived as a joint venture between the Chicago Bar Association and Miglin Beitler Developments, who focused on financial feasibility and marketability. Planning was affected by concerns regarding maximizing F.A.R. and rental space which determined the location of the central core and thus the layout of office space at the front and rear of the building. The headquarters for the Chicago Bar Association is located in the lower seven stories, the upper floors consist of leased office condominiums.
The design combines a Gothic verticality with gestures to both Mies (Promontory Apartments) and Eliel Saarinen (Tribune Tower), producing a hybrid form that sets the building firmly within the American tradition of high-rise construction appropriately reflecting the hallowed stature of this 137-year-old institution as it relates visually to its illustrious neighbors, which include Burnham’s gothically inspired Fischer Building, Mies van Der Rohe’s Federal Center, the Monadnock Building and the Rookery.
Clad in granite with a rusticated base for the first three stories, the remaining thirteen stories are faced in articulated precast concrete panels which provided a significant economy in construction. At three points in the facade shallow changes in depth create shadow lines that correspond to the cornices of the tower’s two adjacent buildings. The sixteen story building is linked functionally to the sixth floor of the John Marshall Law School next door. Sixteen aluminum pinnacles top the building, enlivening the city’s skyline.
The interiors encourage a sense of community among the members and include an ample gathering lounge with wood burning fireplace, domed reception hall, a communal dining room and a grand circular stair linking the two lower levels. The interior spaces continue the vertical theme of the exterior translated into a palette of wood, marble, and stainless steel. Marble and stainless steel are strategically placed in the most trafficked areas for their durability. Situated in a commanding position above the metal and glass entry is an interpretive aluminum casting of “Themis”, the mythological figure of the law.