History and "Preservation"

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Marriott Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile.

Image courtesy of http://www.chicagoarchitecture.infoLinks to an external site. 


The Michigan Square Building was initially designed for the real estate firm McChesney, Rubens, and Wolbach. It was built on one of the many areas of the area by Murray Wolbach between 1919 and 1928. It was also known as the “Time-Life Building” beginning in the 1940s.

The original plans called for a forty-story structure, a twenty-two story base filling the entire block, and a eighteen-story tower rising from the building's western half. However, these plans had to be drastically changed when the Great Depression sank in.

At the end of construction, the Michigan Square Building stood at eight-story with three basement levels that spanned the entire block. 

The Michigan Square Building was demolished in 1973.

Designed by Harry Weese, the Marriott Hotel that now stands at 540 N. Michigan Ave was commissioned to replace the Michigan Square Building shortly after its demolition. Construction was completed in 1978. Since its construction, the building and its architects have faced massive criticism from those who remembered the grandeur of the Michigan Square Building, and by those who understand the architectural and historical loss that Chicago must move forward with.

Unfortunately the 1999 remodeling of the Marriott only worsened the criticism, as many believe it to be more "ugly" than before.

Ironically, Harry Weese was a modernist architect and one of the founders of the Chicago preservation movement.


Because of its demolition, the Michigan Square Building is not considered a “monument,” nor is it considered a landmark, in Chicago or Nationally. 

However, it is still remembered as an art deco masterpiece within Chicago.

Thankfully, the Diana Fountain and several of Miller's panels survive. 

The Diana Fountain is located at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champain.

Two of Miller's panels can be viewed in Gallery 200 at the Art Institute of Chicago, as part of the "Fragments of Chicago's Past" exhibit. 


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Bowers, D. (2007).

One Magnificent Mockery: Selling the Soul of Michigan Avenue. The Voice: The Quarterly Journal of Preservation Chicago, 27(3), 2-12. 

Scheinman, M. (1995). 

A Guide to Art at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign, Robert Allerton Park, and Chicago. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Stamper, J. W. (2005).

North Michigan Avenue: a building book from the Chicago Historical Society. San Francisco, CA: Pomegranate.

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