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The Forgotten History Of Chicago Supertalls: 3 Fun Facts About The Leo Burnett Building


To our eyes, the Leo Burnett Building is one of mystery. Although it only rises 50 stories, Chicago's 35th-tallest building stands out among its skyscraper cousins for its stately design. Today, our ongoing series on the forgotten history of Chicago supertalls breaks down three things to know about the Leo Burnett Building.

1. The Architects

The Leo Burnett Building

The projects designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo in their 50-year partnership are a greatest hits of office buildings, sports stadiums, plazas and cultural institutions, and their design for the Oakland Museum of America in 1968 is recognized as the first green building project. When The John Buck Co tapped Roche and Dinkeloo to design the building for Leo Burnett in 1986, they had a requirement: it must reflect its era while following in the footsteps of the legendary skyscrapers that came before it.

Roche and Dinkeloo eventually settled on a simple structure. The building has a perimeter tube of steel columns on 15-foot centers, with a poured concrete service core and trusses supporting the floors. The building is clad in stone, with deep recesses for the windows. The building's corners provide additional executive office locations while strengthening the overall design. The result is a building that looks exactly like others built in the 1980s, with none of the gaudiness.

2. The Window Details


Roche and Dinkeloo did their homework to suit ownership's wishes that it be quietly imposing. It remains a beautiful building to get lost studying to this day, thanks to the vertical stainless steel bars that divide the windows. This serves as both a nod to the classic window design of Chicago architecture, and reflects light to brighten an otherwise dark building.

3. It Was Part Of Guinness Book Of World Record History


Aerialist Nik Wallenda famously walked a tightrope between Marina City and the Leo Burnett Building on Nov. 2, 2014. The famous Chicago winds at that height kept Wallenda from dawdling and he completed the walk in a brisk six minutes, 51 seconds. More challenging than the winds was the 19 degree incline of the tightrope between the buildings. Wallenda's walk set a Guinness World Record for the steepest incline for a tightrope walk between buildings.