Civic Opera Building

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Rear façade of the Civic Opera Building
Wacker Drive façade of the Civic Opera Building with part of the arcade
Detail of a sculpture by Henry Hering

The Civic Opera Building is a 45-story office tower (plus two 22-story wings) located at 20 North Wacker Drive in Chicago. The building opened November 4, 1929, and has an Art Deco interior. It contains a 3,563-seat opera house, the Civic Opera House, which is the second-largest opera auditorium in North America. Today, the opera house is the permanent home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Samuel Insull envisioned and hired the design team for building a new opera house to serve as the home for the Chicago Civic Opera, as the company was called. The building has been seen as being shaped like a huge chair and is sometimes referred to as "Insull's Throne." Insull selected the architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White who were responsible for several other buildings in the downtown Chicago Loop. As they did on other occasions, the architects commissioned Henry Hering to produce architectural sculpture for the building.

Prior to the opening of the building on July 15, 1929, the opera's inaugural season took place.[1]

During the 1950s and 1960s the building was identified by a large "Kemper Insurance" sign, although it was not that company's headquarters. In 1993, the Lyric Opera of Chicago purchased the opera house it had rented for 64 years.

In 2012, Tishman Speyer Properties L.P. sold the 915,000 square feet (85,000 m2) office tower portion of the building for $125.8 million to an affiliate of Nanuet, N.Y.-based Berkley Properties LLC.[2]




  1. ^ Pearson, Edward Hagelin (1995). "The Other Traviata: Hamilton Forrest's Camille". The Opera Quarterly 11 (2): 17–38. doi:10.1093/oq/11.2.17. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  2. ^ Ori, Ryan (15 February 2012). "Civic Opera Building sells for almost $126 million". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  3. ^ Rial, Tara (16 May 2007). "Law Firm Renews 63,000-SF Deal at Civic Opera Building" (Press release). CoStar Group. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  4. ^ Coram, Candace (2 September 2004). "Two Lease Renewals at Civic Opera Building" (Press release). CoStar Group. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 


  • Chappell, Sally Kitt, Transforming Tradition: Architecture and Planning of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, 1912–1936, Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press, 1992
  • Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Architectural Sculpture in America, unpublished manuscript

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Coordinates: 41°52′57″N 87°38′15″W / 41.882506°N 87.637475°W / 41.882506; -87.637475