Gone in the blink of an eye. The former Morton Salt building at 110 North Wacker Drive was recently torn down to make way for a new 53-story office tower to be anchored by Bank of America.
The squat 5-story building that had occupied the site was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probost & White. According to the Chicago Tribune, those are the same folks who designed the Merchandise Mart. Completed in 1961, the building served as Morton Salt's headquarters until 1992. After Morton moved out, General Growth Partners moved in. In recent years, a look through the windows fronting Wacker drive revealed a nondescript open office floor plan with lots of cubicles.
The structure's signature stainless steel panels are now undergoing restoration, and will be incorporated into the new skyscraper. But for the Army Corps of Engineers, the panels would most likely have been sold for scrap. Fortunately, the Corps determined that the building was an architecturally significant one. It conditioned a waiver for the project on preservation of the panels. The Corps had jurisdiction because the project required a hole to be cut in the seawall so that rainwater could flow into the Chicago River.
The ground under what will be the new skyscraper is still flat and dirt covered. I did see a truck bearing the name Case Foundation, which suggests that a hole should be appearing shortly.
The scene is fascinating because for a glimpse of time we have an unobstructed view of the skyscrapers lining upper Wacker Drive's east side. By the end of this fall, the view will once again be obstructed, albeit partially until the new tower completes its upward thrust.
Back in the 1980's, I spent some time in Morton Salt's headquarters while visiting a friend who worked for the company. It was always fun to head to the lower level, and watch the boats go by.
Photographer's Notes: I am a little puzzled by the image's perspective. The buildings are at a slight angle, providing a very limited two-point perspective. I thought I got it wrong--I was working fast because the Boeing security guards don't like photographers, although the lower terrace from where I was shooting may be fair game because it is a public plaza.
I am not so sure, however, that I did get it wrong. I lined up the sensor plane with the riverbank, which appears to be parallel to that plane. Looking at a map, I now realize that Wacker Drive is not similarly parallel to the river, but veers slightly to the east at it unfolds in an otherwise southerly direction.