Recently I attended an event at the Mid-America Club, which happens to be on the 80th floor of the Aon Center, formerly known as the Amoco Building, and if you go back far enough, the Standard Oil Building (for some time after ’73, when it was completed). At 83 floors and 1,136 ft., it’s the third tallest building in Chicago, but that makes it only the 52nd tallest in the world in our time, when China and the UAE have decided that really tall buildings are just fab.
Getting to the 80th floor, I encountered an elevator system I’d never experienced before. There are touchpads at each elevator bank, and you press the number of the floor you want to go to. Then the machine tells you which of the elevator cabs to board to go express to that floor. There are standard elevator buttons inside the cab, but they’ve been covered over by a hard plastic case and are inaccessible. Guess this makes inter-floor transit more efficient. For all I know, this kind of system could be common and not exactly new; I don’t go into that many very tall buildings any more.
I’d been up to the Mid-America Club before, though I couldn’t remember exactly when. Probably as long ago as the early 2000s. It offers a mighty 360-degree view, though this time around it was obscured some by overcast skies.
This is looking west, down at the top of the Prudential Center. Pru II, vintage 1990, has the pointy spire, maybe for zeppelin mooring. Pru I, vintage 1955, is the shorter structure immediately to Pru II’s left, though it was the tallest building in Chicago when new.
Up and to the right, and on the river, with the cupola on top, is 35 E. Wacker, a handsome ’20s building in which I had an office for a few years.
Also seen from this vantage is 150 N. Michigan. Years ago, I ventured onto the exterior of that building, at a place marked by the red oval. It’s a lot safer than it looks like here.
To the northeast, the entirety of Navy Pier, with part of Chicago’s massive Jardine Water Purification Plant behind it. Largest in the world by volume, I’ve read: nearly one billion gallons of water goes through per day.
One of the pictures posted here is shot from Navy Pier, looking back in the direction of the Aon Center (and a lot of other buildings).
To the north, a large chunk of downtown off in the distance: North Michigan Ave. and Streeterville.
To the south, and looking nearly straight down, is Pritzker Pavilion. As seen from ground level in this posting.
The ribbon snaking off to the left is a pedestrian bridge. Officially, the BP Bridge, one of the projects funded by the oil company before its really big sponsorship of a hole in the Gulf of Mexico. Frank Gehry, who did the Gehry-like bandshell, did the bridge too.
Finally, the Bean, or “Cloud Gate.”
From this vantage, looking like a bead of quicksilver surrounded by ants.