Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Skyline Success: Managing an Icon. (Famous Properties)

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Skyline Success: Managing an Icon. (Famous Properties)

Article excerpt

As manager of 311 South Wacker Drive, one of the more distinctive high-rise properties to grace Chicago's world-famous skyline, Insignia/ESG, AMO [R] can attest to the challenges of operating an office tower that has become a symbol of urban architecture.

When completed in 1990, 311 South Wacker Drive was the world's tallest reinforced concrete building. At 960.5 feet, it was the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the eleventh tallest in the world.

Recognized as the International Office Building of the Year in 2002 by BOMA International for both its architecture and management, the 65-story, 1.3 million-square-foot trophy office tower is located in the city's popular West Loop submarket just south of the Sears Tower. The building is constructed of concrete, Texas red granite and glass.

"Our place on the Chicago skyline makes us distinctive, as well as the nature of our building materials," said General Manager Roy Endsley. "Three-eleven South Wacker is completely clad in granite; no other building I know of other than AT&T has been built in the last decade or so with materials of this quality."

Recently acquired by Chicago-based Walton Street Capital, LLC, the property is considered one of the top five premier office assets in downtown Chicago. The office tower's seven-story top is a 105-foot tall translucent cylinder surrounded by four other, smaller cylinders. The five cylinders are lit at night by 1,852 fluorescent tubes.

Endsley explained while the tower's size presents its own challenges, its illumination is actually quite simple in construction. "To access the tower, our maintenance crew takes the freight elevator to the 66th floor and then climbs the remaining seven floors of stairs, since no elevator serves them," Endsley said. "We change the lights on a daily basis, as they burn out, accessing them from catwalks. The fights, which are mounted vertically on steel framework, are actually large shop fluorescent bulbs, which we change manually, one at a time. They face outward and glow through the frosted glass that comprises the outer wall of the tower. During most of the year, we use white bulbs, but when we celebrate holidays, we can insert colored bulbs in the top three stories."

In fact, during key holiday times, 311 S. …

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