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Now and Then

Now and Then
The Rookery
During the Great Depression, downtown Chicago office occupancy fell from 87% to 55% (so quit your belly-achin', you young'uns), says architectural historian Jean Guarino. She headlined a lunchtime lecture at the Chicago Architecture Foundation yesterday. As a result, the Federal Housing Association  issued $50k loans to several buildings to modernize and attract new tenants. Such modernizations increased the popularity of  doors instead of grilles on elevator fronts, rubber tile office floors, and even full-length toilet stall dividers. Some of these renovations, like the lobby at the Rookery building are still intact.
190 S LaSalle
Today, Jean says, some buildings are taking a page out of that same book. 190 S. LaSalle, for example, had a large increase in vacancy when Mayer Brown left in the late '90s. Building management replaced some of the space with a swanky exclusive lounge called The Library for its tenants, to keep up with competition in the new Wacker Drive skyscrapers. One trend that hasn't picked up again in the Great Recession: Demolition. More than 120 buildings in the Chicago area were torn down in the 1930s to make way for parking garages and two-story, tax-payer buildings to fill the economic void. Also missing: the catchy tunes.