|Some or all of this article's listed sources may not be reliable. (September 2012)|
CNA Center's unusual red exterior
|Location||333 S Wabash Ave
|Construction started||March 1970|
|Roof||600 ft (183 m)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Graham, Anderson, Probst & White|
CNA Center is a simple, rectangular International Style building, but it is unique in that the entire building was painted bright red by Eagle Painting & Maintenance Company, Inc., turning an otherwise ordinary-looking structure into one of the most eye-catching buildings in the city. It was designed by the firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and was completed in 1972. The red design was used to depict the sun setting over the ocean as illustrated by the red imagery to the west of Lake Michigan.
Originally known as Continental Center III, in reference to the original moniker of CNA Financial Corporation, Continental National American Group, both CNA Center (formerly CNA Plaza) and the neighboring CNA Center North (Continental Center II, built in 1962) adjoined and were painted red. The shorter red building was later restored to its original gray tone. The two buildings remain joined at the second floor: CNA's Conference Center uses space on that floor, but all entrance and egress to it is through CNA Center.
In 1999, a large fragment of a window fell from the building and killed a woman walking with her child. CNA Financial, a property insurance company, later paid $18 million to settle the resultant lawsuit. All of the building's windows were replaced in an expensive retrofit. To this day, the firm physically checks each window monthly. Many other building owners in Chicago have checked their windows for soundness, leading to a flurry of repairs and replacements.
Lighted window messages
Utilizing a combination of lights on/off and 1,600 window blinds open/closed (and sometimes foamboard cutouts), the windows on CNA Center are often used to display lighted window messages, typically denoting holidays, remembrances, and other events denoting Chicago civic pride, such as when the White Sox played in and won the 2005 World Series. A computer program is used to calculate which windows need to be activated to create the proper message.
Position in Chicago's skyline
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