Railway Exchange Building (Chicago)
Railway Exchange Building
The Railway Exchange Building, prior to the 2012 removal of the "Santa Fe" sign
|Location||224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, USA|
|Architect||D. H. Burnham & Company
F. P. Dinkelberg
|NRHP reference #||82002530|
|Added to NRHP||June 3, 1982|
The Railway Exchange Building, also known as Santa Fe Building, is a 17-story office building in the Historic Michigan Boulevard District of the Loop community area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. It was designed by Frederick P. Dinkelberg of D. H. Burnham & Company in the Chicago style. Dinkelberg was also the associate designer to Daniel Burnham for the Flatiron Building in New York City.
The building is recognizable by the large "Motorola" logo on the roof, which is visible from Grant Park across Michigan Ave and from Lake Michigan. It is also notable for the round, porthole-like windows along the cornice. The center of the building features a lightwell, which was covered with a skylight in the 1980s.
The formal entrance to the building is located on Jackson Boulevard, which in 1904 was a more important street than Michigan Avenue. The impressive entrance is believed to have been required by Daniel Burnham, head of the architectural firm and the building's main stockholder. The firm moved its offices to the fourteenth floor, and Burnham's descendants continued ownership in the building until 1952. The building is organized as a classicization of John Wellborn Root's Rookery. A street level two-story enclosed court designed in a symmetrical Beaux-Arts style was surmounted by an open lightwell which was surrounded by a ring of offices. By the formal arched entrance on Jackson Boulevard, a large staircase led to shops and a second-floor balcony. White-glazed terracotta sheaths the exterior façade and interior court and the lightwell is lined with white-glazed brick. Classical designs were used for the ornamental dentils, balusters, and column capitals. The building is completely steel-framed. In July 2012, the Santa Fe sign was replaced with an illuminated Motorola sign when Motorola Solutions began a lease on one floor of the building. The Santa Fe letters were given to the Illinois Railway Museum. After a four year restoration, the sign was put on display at the museum in 2016.
The building was originally built as a railway exchange for the Santa Fe railway. Burnham & Company had offices on the 14th floor. Though the firm's successor, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, has moved, a number of architectural organizations still practice there, including the Chicago Architecture Foundation, Goettsch Partners, VOA Associates, Harding Partners, and the Chicago offices of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and landscape architecture and planning firm, Design Workshop.
In 2011, Anacostia Rail Holdings moved its corporate headquarters to the Railway Exchange Building.
Position in Chicago's skyline
The Railway Exchange Building appears (unlabelled) in front of Three First National Plaza in the image below:
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