Morton Salt Headquarters Building

Chicago, IL

Client: Riverside Investment

Jean supervised Historic American Buildings Survey (HIBS) recordation for the Morton Salt Headquarters Building, a project that was undertaken to mitigate the adverse effects of its demolition, per the Illinois State Agency Historic Resources Preservation Act. Jean took representative digital photographs of the building and reproduced drawings of original and current floor plans, all of which were included in the report. She researched and wrote a series of contextual essays that focused on the history and significance of the Morton Salt Company; a history of the Morton Salt Building at 110 N. Wacker Drive; the architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst and White; Post-World War II development in downtown Chicago; and Mid-century modern office buildings.

The Morton Salt Headquarters Building, completed in 1958, was among the earliest corporate office buildings erected in Chicago’s Loop after World War II to meet pent-up demand. Such buildings exhibited cutting-edge designs as well as new materials and technologies, demonstrating the vital role that architecture played in projecting an up-to-date image of modernity and prosperity for Chicago. The sprawling, five-story building presented a striking appearance with curtain walls comprised of horizontal ribbons of glass and stainless steel, a then-unusual material for building facades. It was designed by Graham Anderson, Probst and White and exemplified that firm’s transition to a dramatically modernistic aesthetic starting in the 1950s under the leadership of the Marvin Probst. The building encompassed an entire city block parcel and was prominently sited on the South Branch of the Chicago River with its front elevation facing Wacker Drive.