Saturday, February 21, 2015

Chicago Title & Trust Center
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago Title & Trust Center (1992) Kohn Pedersen Fox, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Long before Chicago Title & Trust moved into their sleek, white-trimmed tower in 1992, one of the buildings that made Chicago architecture world famous sat on this site. In 1891, as Burnham & Root's Ashland Block was nearing completion, the Chicago Tribune called the building one of the recently built structures "given to what's known as the Chicago style of architecture or Chicago construction." The Ashland was one, in a number of buildings, designed by a forward thinking group of Chicago architects which pushed the boundaries of commercial high-rise construction, and came to be known the world over as Chicago School of architecture.  

 [Chicago Title & Trust Center, 171 N. Clark Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Unfortunately by 1949, the Ashland was seen as just another old, out-of-date, too expensive to maintain money pit, and it was torn down to be replaced by architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's two-story, stainless-steel trimmed, Greyhound Bus Station. When that structure fell in the late 1980s, it was replaced by the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates white-enamel tower we see today.

[Chicago Title Tower /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Originally intended to have a twin just to the north on Clark Street, that project was put on hold when downtown Chicago found itself with an oversupply of office space in the early 90s. The title company relocated to this building from Daniel Burnham's Conway Building just down the street, where they had moved in 1948 from Henry Ives Cobb's Boyce Building, just around the corner at 69 W. Washington Street. When the business was founded in 1847, the one man operation was housed in offices in the Saloon Building, just north of, and across the street from, today's Clark Street tower. So for 164 years, the abstract compiling real estate concern has been located within a 2 block area of the city's central business district. Only the offices of the City of Chicago and Cook County, have been located in the same 2 block area longer.
Founded in 1847 by an office clerk who came up with a way to keep track of all the legal   and investment history on a piece of property, Edward Rucker was soon joined in his endeavor by Mr. James Rees. They drew up with one of Chicago's early maps, the Rees & Rucker Map of Chicago and Vicinity, 1849, which escaped the flames of the Great Fire in 1871. It was because of the heroic efforts of the employees of the title company that the city came through the aftermath of the fire as well as it did. Putting their lives at risk, they saved all their records, as well as every city map that had been drafted up to that time, which made identifying property lines, and owners, much easier in the mess left behind by the raging inferno.
Every once in a while there is talk that the second tower, partner to this one, will be built. But given today's economy, it may be another generation or two before that happens.

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