77 West Wacker Drive

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77 West Wacker Drive
77 West Wacker Drive May 2016 (2).jpg
General information
Status Complete
Type Office
Construction started 1990
Completed 1992
Roof 668 ft (204 m)
Technical details
Floor count 49
Floor area 1,039,987 sq ft (96,618.0 m2)
Lifts/elevators 25
Design and construction
Architect Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura
Developer Prime Group Realty Trust
Structural engineer Cohen-Barreto-Marchertas
Main contractor Schal Associates, Inc.

77 West Wacker Drive,[1] previously the United Building, is an office building in the Loop, Chicago. Finished in 1992, the building rises to a height of 668 ft (204 m) with around 944,000 square feet (87,700 m2) of interior space.[2] The building, with 50 floors, was designed by Ricardo Bofill.[3] It was formerly known as the RR Donnelley Building when the RR Donnelley printing company was the primary tenant. RR Donnelley moved its corporate headquarters to a different location in May 2005, and in 2007 the building became the corporate headquarters of United Airlines. The deal included naming rights to the building.[4]

This was the world headquarters of Chicago-based United Airlines and its parent company, United Continental Holdings.[5] It also served as the headquarters for United Continental subsidiary Continental Airlines until its certificate was merged with United on November 30, 2011.[6] (In 2012, United moved its headquarters to the Willis Tower, where the company occupies around 20 floors.)[7][8]

Archer Daniels Midland moved its headquarters to the building in August 2014 from Decatur, Illinois.[9]

The building has a newsletter called "FOCUS", published by Prime Group Realty Trust.[10]


By 1990, Keck, Mahin & Cate, a then-prominent Chicago-based law firm, considered moving out of its space in the Sears Tower and moving into a potential new development, which would become 77 West Wacker Drive. Brokers who were familiar with the lease negotiations stated that Sears was trying to keep Keck, Mahin & Cate in the building. Keck, Mahin & Cate decided to move into 77 West Wacker, and the Prime Group, developer of 77 West Wacker, finalized the development of the facility.[11] In 1991, RR Donnelley leased 215,000 square feet (20,000 m2) on floors 9 through 19 for its world headquarters,[12] and Kemper Securities leased 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2).

With the lease deals concluded, 77 West Wacker had 86% of its tenant space occupied. Jerry C. Davis of the Chicago Sun-Times said that the remaining space would be too small for some prospective tenants. Davis added that the leases to RR Donnelley and Kemper significantly altered "the complexion of the downtown office market."[13] Keck Mahin & Cate moved from the Sears Tower to 77 W. Wacker in mid-1992; the firm suffered a series of practice group defections and questionable management decisions, and ultimately ceased operation in 1997.

In 2004, RR Donnelley signed a letter of intent to move out of 77 West Wacker.[14] During the same year, McGuireWoods extended its lease by 8 years, changing the end date from December 31, 2010 to December 31, 2018. In addition, McGuireWoods expanded its leased space, effective February 1, 2004. The company gained an extra 65,756 square feet (6,108.9 m2) of space in addition to its existing 67,819 square feet (6,300.6 m2). As a result of the lease expansion of McGuireWoods, as of February 2004, 77 West Wacker was 92.2% leased.[15] In 2004, the lease of the firm Jones Day of 138,764 square feet (12,891.6 m2) in 77 West Wacker was extended by 15 years, with the end date changed from September 30, 2007 to September 30, 2022.[2] In 2006, Microsoft extended the term of its lease and expanded its leased space to 12,391 square feet (1,151.2 m2), with a total of 47,122 square feet (4,377.8 m2) occupied by Microsoft. During the same year, Greenberg Traurig agreed to expand its lease by 22,565 square feet (2,096.4 m2), giving it a total of 100,975 square feet (9,380.9 m2).[3]

In 2006, United Airlines agreed to move its 350 executives and some staff members from its Elk Grove Township campus to 77 West Wacker.[16]

On August 13, 2012, United Continental Holdings announced its intention to once again relocate its world headquarters. An agreement was reached for United Continental Holdings to lease an additional 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) at Chicago's Willis Tower, joining the airline's operations center which leased an initial 470,000 square feet (44,000 m2) in 2010. The company vacated the majority of their offices at 77 W. Wacker with the naming future of the building left unknown.[17]

Building design[edit]

77 West Wacker is shown in context between the Leo Burnett Building and the partially constructed Waterview Tower.

Steve Baron, president of Prime Group Realty, said in 1990 that 77 West Wacker had "very compact floors with virtually no columns." Therefore, tenant companies would not pay for space that they would be unable to use.[11]

To enhance its panoramic view over the city, the building's skin is predominantly glazed. The facade, of classical proportions, comprises glass surfaces framed in Portuguese white granite, with the dividers between the different floors linked by columns. The top floor is shaped like a Greek pediment. The ground floor houses a 59-foot-high (18 m) atrium in gray and white marble.[citation needed]

At night, 540 lamps light the building and its surroundings, along with a United sign that was added to the building in 2008.[citation needed]

The interior is similarly styled. The classical Greek style is repeated inside, with Thassos marble walls and a 40 ft (12 m) tall coffered ceiling made of white oak wood.[citation needed]

A sculpture by Xavier Corbero called "Three Lawyers and A Judge" graces the building, as does Antoni Tàpies' artwork called "Big Eyelids". Bofill further contributed by creating a sculpture entitled "Twisted Columns" which appears to float above a reflecting pool.[citation needed]


Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus lines serving the building include 22, 24, 29, 62, 124, 146 and 151. The closest Chicago 'L' stations are Clark/Lake, serving the Orange, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink and Brown Lines, and the State/Lake station, which serves the Orange, Green, Purple, Pink and Brown Lines, with a connection to the Red Line at Lake. The Metra Electric Line is the closest Metra line.[18]

Position in skyline[edit]

In this lakefront view 77 West Wacker is located between Buckingham Fountain and the Pittsfield Building.

311 South WackerWillis TowerChicago Board of Trade Building111 South WackerAT&T Corporate CenterKluczynski Federal BuildingCNA CenterChase TowerThree First National PlazaMid-Continental PlazaRichard J. Daley CenterChicago Title and Trust Center77 West WackerPittsfield BuildingLeo Burnett BuildingThe Heritage at Millennium ParkCrain Communications BuildingIBM PlazaOne Prudential PlazaTwo Prudential PlazaAon CenterBlue Cross and Blue Shield Tower340 on the ParkPark TowerOlympia Centre900 North MichiganJohn Hancock CenterWater Tower PlaceHarbor PointThe ParkshoreNorth Pier ApartmentsLake Point TowerJay Pritzker PavilionBuckingham FountainLake MichiganLake MichiganLake MichiganThe skyline of a city with many large skyscrapers; in the foreground are a green park and a lake with many sailboats moored on it. Over 30 of the skyscrapers and some park features are labeled.

In popular culture[edit]

The building is featured prominently in The Negotiator (1998) where it serves as the location of offices for the Internal Affairs Division of the Chicago Police Department.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "United Building". Tenant Information. Building Management.
  2. ^ a b "Prime Group Realty Trust Extends Major Tenant Lease At 77 West Wacker Drive." Business Wire. March 10, 2004. Retrieved on November 11, 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Prime Group Realty Trust Announces Two Lease Transactions at 77 West Wacker Drive." Business Wire. October 19, 2006. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  4. ^ CoStar Realty Press Release http://www.costar.com/News/Article.aspx?id=394C6565A1F7D767BB177BBEF7C9D48C
  5. ^ "Board of Directors." United Continental Holdings. Retrieved on October 3, 2010.
  6. ^ "Headquarters Location." Continental Airlines. Retrieved on October 11, 2011. "Physical Address 77 W. Wacker Drive Chicago, Illinois 60601 United States"
  7. ^ Associated Press. "United Airlines moving headquarters to Willis Tower". News-Gazette.com. Archived from the original on August 15, 2012.
  8. ^ Snyder, Brett (16 December 2013). "A Day with United Management: Elite Status, Mileage Devaluation, and Increasing Change Fees". The Cranky Flier. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  9. ^ Karp, Gregory (August 26, 2014). "ADM opens its Chicago headquarters". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  10. ^ "FOCUS Fall 2008." Prime Group Realty Trust. Retrieved on October 27, 2009.
  11. ^ a b " 77 W. Wacker ready to go." Chicago Sun-Times. March 12, 1990. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  12. ^ Kerch, Steve. "Prime scores big with 77 W. Wacker deals." Chicago Tribune. August 4, 1991. 2A. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  13. ^ Davis, Jerry C. "77 W. Wacker's filling up and causing ripples." Chicago Sun-Times. August 19, 1991. Page 39. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  14. ^ "Printer R.R. Donnelley & Sons leans to move away from Chicago River." Chicago Tribune. November 17, 2004. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  15. ^ "Prime Group Realty Trust Executes Additional Leasing at 77 West Wacker Drive." Business Wire. February 24, 2004. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  16. ^ "Chicago touchdown nearing for United: Deal would put airline in ex-Donnelley site." Chicago Tribune. July 14, 2006. Retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  17. ^ "United Airlines moving its headquarters to the Willis Tower". Chicago Tribune. August 13, 2012.
  18. ^ "Transportation." 77 West Wacker Drive. Retrieved on May 19, 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°53′11.40″N 87°37′49.90″W / 41.8865000°N 87.6305278°W / 41.8865000; -87.6305278