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CNA Center's unusual red exterior
333 S Wabash Ave|
|Construction started||March 1970|
|Roof||600 ft (183 m)|
|Floor area||1,299,990 sq ft (120,773 m2)|
|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.
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 in 1999. 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. Windows had been cracking at the building ever since it had been built in 1975. 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.
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 Blackhawks played in and won the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. A computer program is used to calculate which windows need to be activated to create the proper message.
Position in Chicago's skyline
- CNA Plaza on Emporis.com
- Steve Daniels for Crain's Chicago Business. March 24, 2014 Why jobs and revenue are going opposite directions at CNA
- Abraham Tekippe for Crain's Chicago Business: Chicago Real Estate Daily. December 14, 2012 December 14, 2012 United Way moving to CNA Center
- CNA Plaza North
- Chicago Architecture Info CNA Center Accessed July 13, 2014
- Louise Kiernan for the Chicago Tribune. February 14, 2002 CNA window death settled for $18 million
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