[graphic header] Chicago: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Service

The Marquette Building

Photos courtesy of Brandt Pfeifer, Continental Offices, Ltd.

In the late 19th century, steel framing as a new building material demanded a new form of architecture. The architectural firm of Holabird and Roche designed the Marquette Building in 1894 as one introduction to this form, which became known as the Chicago School of Architecture. The grid-like facade proclaimed the use of steel and the E-shaped footprint of the building maximized the amount of light to the interior from all sides. The Marquette rises 16 stories and is covered with brown brick and terra cotta. In 1950 the decorative cornice was removed to add a 17th floor to the building.

Even as a model of functional design, the building also retains extraordinary artistic detail. The main entrance doors are covered with panels of ornamental bronze illustrating the life of Pere Marquette, the grand memorial rotunda is filled with marble, bronze, and glass mosaics and the balcony between the first and second floors contain mosaic panels of glass and mother of pearl made in the Tiffany Studios in New York.

The Marquette has been in continuous use as an office building since its opening. Renovations were undertaken by Holabird and Root in restoring the first two floors, but the rest of the interior was gutted to create more useable office space.

The Marquette Building is located at 140 S. Dearborn St. The ornate lobby is open to the public, as is a free exhibit on the history and architecture of the building.


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