311 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, USA, is a post-modern 65-story skyscraper completed in 1990. At 961 feet (293 m) tall, it is the sixth tallest building in Chicago and the 15th tallest in the United States. It was once the second tallest reinforced concrete building in the world (after Two Prudential Plaza, also in Chicago).The building is also the tallest building in the world known by its street address. The lower level of the winter garden was designed to connect via underground passageway to Union Station. The building also contains three levels of underground parking. The building contains both retail and commercial tenants.


The lobby is an impressive two-level (one below ground) 85-foot (26 m)-tall glass-ceilinged "winter garden" with palm trees and a fountain. The Winter Garden was influenced by the adjacent steel structures of Chicago’s "L" tracks and Bridges. It was envisioned as a commuter link or "pedestrian station" serving as a connection from the adjacent Train Station through the existing service tunnels under the Chicago River leading to the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) from a series of underground spaces and passages. The garden was added in 2002. Raymond Kaskey's bronze sculpture "Gem of the Lakes" looks over the garden from the Wacker entrance. The fountain shell form is taken from the city seal with a heroic figure representing Chicago as the "city of broad shoulders" wearing a cape symbolic of the great engineering feat which reversed the flow of Chicago River.

The top of the building is a 105-foot (32 m)-tall translucent cylinder, surrounded by four other smaller cylinders, which was inspired by the massing of the Tribune Tower. This makes it among the most visible Chicago skyscrapers at night, as its crown is brightly illuminated. The five cylinders on top are lit at night by 1,852 fluorescent tubes, and lantern at the top changes colors for various holidays and special events.

311 South Wacker is surrounded to the northwest by a grassy area, commonly used as a lounging and public lunch area during warm months, which is the largest area of green space in the Chicago Loop. This park is used to host local farmer markets, musical events, and various art and cultural festivals. To the southwest is a parking lot. This land was originally to be occupied by two more towers, two linear slabs, developed like arms up to the shoulder of the existing building. The massing and design would allow for a built area roughly equal to the amount of the adjacent Sears Tower, which along with the winter garden would create a publicly accessible urban space, similar to the historic Rockefeller Plaza in NYC.

Position in Chicago's skyline
  • This photo is missing Trump Towers, now completed.


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Building Activity

  • Joana Lazarova
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    311 South Wacker Drive
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