Reuse, Don't Demolish

Saving the Century and Consumers Buildings

John Hill
11. April 2024
Photo: Screenshot from “CAC Watch List: Century and Consumers Buildings” on YouTube

We learned about the potential demolition of the Century and Consumer Buildings — a pair of terra cotta-clad skyscrapers on State Street dating to the second decade of the 20th century — back in 2022, when the buildings were placed (once again) on Preservation Chicago's Most Endangered list. 

The buildings still stand two years later, but the prospects for their reuse seem grim, since the US government has basically let the buildings sit empty since purchasing them via eminent domain in 2005. While initially the government would have renovated the buildings for offices, now it has earmarked $52 million to raze the buildings and keep their lots empty as a security buffer for the Everett M. Dirksen US Courthouse to the west. 

The unfortunate story of the two buildings is told clearly in the four-minute video that is tailor-made for smartphones, and which also does an excellent job in arguing for their reuse: 

When you're doing watching, be sure to visit the Chicago Architecture Center website for more information on efforts to save the buildings, and then head to MAS Context to read “The Century and Consumers Buildings: Their Complicated Saga and the Precedent They Might Set” by Elizabeth Blasius (Preservation Future) for much more depth on the buildings’ complicated saga and what is at stake if they are razed.

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