1000M | Joining A Tradition of Elevation

16 January 2018


1000M will takes its place in Chicago’s enduring legacy of architectural excellence and height, a tradition that harkens back to the late 1800’s, when the Windy City was reborn from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871 as the birthplace of the skyscraper — the symbol of modern urban skylines.

On an October night in 1871, a fire sparked that devastated Chicago, destroying over three square miles and obliterating 17,500 buildings. Despite the overwhelming damage and loss of life, this tragedy laid the foundation for a rebirth that would establish Chicago as an architectural giant with global influence that remains intact today.

The fire not only created the necessity to rebuild, but also mandated architects to construct with fireproof materials. Post-1871 fireproof engineering represented a phase of unprecedented innovation in materials and methods, including the fabrication and use of steel frames, which were better for building vertically than previous masonry construction. The birth of the skyscraper following the fire, came about due to other factors as well, including a booming Chicago economy that caused downtown land value to skyrocket, creating demand for density … in other words, building UP.

The Chicago School, a style of architecture, also emerged in the decades following the Great Fire and would define Chicago’s architectural pulse until the present day. Thanks to Chicago School masterminds like Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Fazlur Khan and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the city was not simply rebuilt; it was built up, leveraging breakthroughs in engineering and materials to rise to new heights with some of the tallest buildings in the world. The Chicago School shunned adornment and decoration, but rather championed commercial practicality. Building vertically, especially with high Chicago land value, was a better financial option than building horizontally.

The first skyscraper in the world — the Home Insurance Building — emerged from the Chicago School. Designed by William Le Baron Jenney and completed in 1885 at the corner of Adams and LaSalle, the building utilized more fire resistant steel columns to achieve a then-outstanding height of 10 stories (138 ft). As time passed, the Chicago School continued to influence the skyline, producing a host of tall buildings between 1880-1900, many of which use steel columns as support and a classic “Chicago window” similar to an oriel window. Chicago’s post-fire and vertical engineering, especially the use of steel frame design as interior building skeletons, set the stage for widespread adoption in New York City and in major cities across the country.

At ten stories, the Home Insurance Building was the world’s first skyscraper.

Rising a mile down the street (at 832 feet) from where the Home Insurance Building once stood, 1000M does not simply fit into the Chicago School tradition as a skyscraper, but also as a response to the 1909 Plan of Chicago that was authored by Daniel Burnham, a prominent member of the Chicago School. As a result of his visionary recommendations for city planning, Burnham’s hope of preserving the lakefront for the public was realized, leading to the unparalleled views 1000M residences will enjoy.

The unobstructed lakefront served as a siren call to 1000M architect Helmut Jahn, as well. In a recent interview he explained, “[1000M] faces Grant Park and the lake, one of the most beautiful front yards you can have in the world … This building is forever protected by the place where it is,” he added, alluding to Burnham’s plan that reads, “Not a foot of [the lake’s] shores should be appropriated to the exclusion of the people.”

1000M will have forever views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park.


1000M is not only joining a rich historic tradition; it is also celebrating a contemporary Chicago architectural community that is as vital, ambitious and innovative as it was 150 years ago. The living skyline is expanding both north and south, while historic structures are experiencing thoughtful renovation and adaptation. The Willis Tower is adding a 3-story entertainment, dining and retail addition to the base of its building, and the possibility of Chicago’s South Loop being chosen as Amazon’s second headquarters, would promise unprecedented growth.

While engineering has evolved and architectural tastes have adapted, 1000M is taking its place in a city that has an unwavering dedication to architectural excellence, just as it did when the Home Insurance Building first reached for the sky.

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