Exiting the South Loop
The South Loop used to be a rather desolate place, but Columbia College, DePaul University, Roosevelt University, and Jones College Prep have changed and brightened the area. With all those students, there are plenty of cheap eats and urban funk. There is even a hostel, offering inexpensive and clean rooms--J. Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hotel, which is also known as Hi Chicago. It includes over 500 beds, making it the second largest hostel in the United States. On this late Saturday afternoon, many of the rooms were occupied by Urban Sketchers, who were in town for their annual international meet-up, which ran four days this year. Next year, they will be headed to Porto, Portugal.
The red structure towering over the scene is CNA's 44-story international-style headquarters building. It was painted bright red by Eagle Painting & Maintenance Company, lighting up the Chicago skyline. The color is referred to as CNA Red, so we have an insurance company with its own color. It was chosen to match the company's logo. Soon CNA will be exiting what has been its headquarters since 1972. It sold the building in 2015.
Just to the south of the CNA building is Roosevelt University's new signature building. The wavy blue structure was designed by VOA. It includes student dorms, as well as eating and study facilities. It rises 32 stories above the street, making it the tallest educational structure in Chicago. Finished in 2012 at a cost of $123 million, the building has proved to be a financial burden to the university, resulting in operating deficits and salary freezes. According to an October 9, 2015 article in the Chicago Tribune, debt service on the structure consumed 11% of the university's operating budget.
The brightly lit white building to the south of Roosevelt University's dorms is part of the Adler & Sullivan's Auditorium Theatre, which was completed in 1889. According to Chicago's Architectural Foundation, the theatre complex was designed as a mixed-use facility that included a luxury hotel and business offices in an effort to subsidize the theatre, thereby raising potential UBIT issues had the income tax existed at the time of completion. The draftsman on the project was a young Frank Lloyd Wright. The theatre was restored in 1967 under the direction of Henry Weese.
What completes the scene is one of Columbia Colleges buildings in the South Loop, which is now painted a blue color that seems to match the blue in the Roosevelt University high-rise. It helps create the canyon feeling through which the 'L' tracks pass.