When I took pictures from high up in the Aon Center, I didn’t know that a few weeks later, I’d be on top of another nearby building. Not as tall, but with also with a terrific view of Chicago. And one (formerly) associated with an insurance company: The London Guarantee & Accident Building, 360 N. Michigan Ave., vintage 1923.
Chicago architect Alfred S. Alschuler designed the Beaux Arts tower for the U.S. branch of a British insuror, and since last year it has been occupied by the London House Hotel. I didn’t know that, probably because I don’t keep track of the Chicago real estate market in detail right now. I still think of it as an office building that was home to Crain’s Chicago Business for a time, and which also used to count the Turkish Consulate as a tenant. Once upon a time, Armenian sympathizers would periodically protest on the sidewalk outside.
There’s a tower on the top of London House, marked with a circle.
Up close, it looks like this.
The tower is supposedly modeled after the Choragic Monument in Athens. I’m not expert enough to know, but there are visual similarities at least.
The London Guarantee & Accident Building was on the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Hotel Boom tour, and it was the only property we explored beyond the exterior and the lobby, though those parts are interesting too.
This is the ceiling inside the Michigan Ave. entrance.
The docent said that it was original to the building, but had been uncoveraged fairly recently. At some point probably in the 1950s or ’60s, it had been Eisenhowered by a lower ceiling.
From there we looked around the lobby, and then took an elevator to the 21st floor, which is occupied by a bar. On a spring Saturday afternoon, the place was packed. Then, another elevator takes you up to two levels of outdoor terraces. One of which has tables and chains and (on a warm day) people with their drinks.
The views are exceptional. Looking west down the Chicago River.
North up Rush St. The building with the clock tower is, of course, the Wrigley Building.
Stairs from this level lead up to the Choragic Monument-ish tower, which offers some views of its own. Looking to the east, you get a good view of the upper reaches of 333 N. Michigan Ave., another building of the 1920s.
I was intrigued by the busts way up.
About 333 N. Michgan and environs, Blair Kaimen wrote: “Its designers, Chicago architects Holabird & Root, drew heavily from Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen’s influential second-prize entry in the 1922 Tribune Tower design competition. Continuous vertical lines and gentle setbacks mount to a top without a cornice or cupola. The building superbly takes advantage of a bend in North Michigan Avenue to dominate the view as you look southward.
“Together, 333 and 360 join with the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower and the eclectic Wrigley Building to form an extraordinary quartet of 1920s skyscrapers that frame a great urban space around the Michigan Avenue Bridge.”