Classic sophistication meets modern conveniences in Chicago’s Old Post Office.
Today I will discuss the Old Post Office. This is an extraordinary piece of Chicago real estate that has captivated people since it was built in the 1920s. And its redevelopment is a smashing success for the city because it improved the local economy without compromising on historical preservation.
What is the Old Post Office?
The Old Chicago Post Office was built in 1921, but it was massively expanded in 1932 to accommodate Chicago's extraordinary postal needs. This 2.5 million-square-foot facility, which looms over the Eisenhower Expressway, was once the world's largest post office. It is now the country's largest adaptive reuse project. The enormous limestone facade and the Art Deco interior have been restored to their full magnificence after sitting dormant for almost two decades, thanks to rehabilitation by the 601W Companies.
This landmark was once responsible for processing 19 million pieces of mail per day, in its heyday as a post office. Now it’s been redeveloped in a commercial capacity. Now that it’s back on track, nearly a billion dollars has been spent on restoring, replacing, reproducing, and cleaning important architectural aspects, as well as preparing the 2.8 million-square-foot limestone tower for new occupants.
Since the announcement of its restoration, several brands and agencies are lining up to be included in the newly restored Old Post Office in the Windy City.
The original building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and completed in 1921. Then it was considerably rebuilt in 1932 to accommodate Chicago's large volume of postal business, which had been swollen by the mail-order enterprises of Montgomery Ward and Sears.
When a logjam of 10 million pieces of mail clogged the system for over a week in 1966, the Main Chicago Post Office came to a halt. Due to Chicago's poor mail delivery record, a new Main Post Office was suggested directly across Harrison Street. The previous structure was demolished in 1997 to make way for a new, more contemporary facility. In 2001, the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Old Post Office stood empty for two decades, but it is now a dynamic work hub and events center.
What does it offer?
The Old Post Office is a uniquely beautiful real estate development. Today, the property boasts over 2.5 million square feet of stunning multi-use office and event space.
a. Work Hub
The revamped Old Post Office is poised to once again become the central hub of Chicago's business community. Where once it was the hotbed of logistics, now it thrives with the activity of production and backend management of businesses from different industries.
It provides multi-tiered office spaces encouraging creative collisions. And office boundaries give way to a vast, varied, and immersive environment designed to stimulate and inspire innovation and productivity.
Uber Technologies has negotiated a 10-year lease at Chicago's Old Post Office for 463,000 square feet. The ride-sharing startup is the building's flagship tenant. After its headquarters in San Francisco, the office will be Uber's second-largest.
Other tenants of the Old Post Office are Walgreens, Ferrara Candy Company, PepsiCo, Cisco Systems, Home Chef, Abelson Taylor, CMAP, FHL Bank Chicago, Cboe Exchange, Inc., and TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI).
b. The Historic Lobby
The Historic Lobby has been restored into the city's best event area, formerly teeming with mail carriers and clients. This stunning Chicago landmark has been completely restored to its original state, paying homage to its Art Deco style from the 1920s. This two-story facility has white marble walls from floor to ceiling, original brass embellishments, revolving doors, and 38-meter gold leaf ceilings, making it ideal for events of all sizes.
This 12,742 square-foot lobby can accommodate an 800-person Banquet and 1400-person Reception so it’s perfect for social events such as weddings, galas, and more.
c. Telegram Lounge
The Old Post showcases a contemporary lounge with a unique twist. With its full-service wrap-around bar, bocce ball alley, collaboration pods, pool tables, and fireplace, the Telegram Lounge accentuates any reception. And with floor-to-ceiling windows and east-facing river views, this room is the perfect party place.
It is an 11,792 square-foot structure that can cater up to a 300-person cocktail reception and 150-person banquet.
d. The Vault
The Vault is the ideal location for all small meetings and intimate occasions. VIPs and families will feel right at home in this room, which is centered on a huge full-service bar and elegant conference table, with lounging areas on either side. This modern room is complemented by a fireplace with seating, high brick tile ceilings, and an east-facing perspective of the river.
This 920 square-foot real estate is spacious enough for a 45-person Cocktail Reception so it’s just right for a bridal suite, showers, VIP area, important client meetings
Boxcar was created exclusively for the tenants of The Old Post Office as a one-of-a-kind amenity that allows them to take time away from their workday to focus on their health and wellness. Group fitness programs, personal training, dietary counseling, health coaching, and massage therapy are all part of the wellness program.
f. The Library
The Library has large modern tables and seating, as well as excellent artwork, and is a peaceful spot to get work done. This is a phone-free zone, a peaceful and productive workspace. Here the furniture may not be rearranged. Its large, double doors let out into the main space of the second floor
This can also be rented for cocktail receptions. This 1,690 square-foot room can accommodate up to a 60-person banquet and 90-person cocktail reception.
g. Marquee Conference Center
The Marquee Conference Center is a flexible collection of rooms that may be customized to meet your business or social needs. The Marquee Ballroom is ideal for big group activities, while the Pony Express and Stage Coach provide additional space and flexibility to your event, both of which are equipped with high-quality audio and visual systems.
The Meadow is Chicago's largest urban rooftop sanctuary. It covers 3.5 acres of green spaces with a full running track and basketball court. It showcases 360º city and river views.
Chicagoans can reserve the Meadow seasonally (or as weather permits). So they can enjoy plenty of space to relax, organize a casual gathering, or find new inspiration with a breath of fresh air.
I. The Penthouse
The Penthouse, located just off the Meadow, is a loft-style room with exposed ceilings, original masonry, and modern fixtures that can host up to 300 cocktail guests or 150 seated guests for the ultimate indoor-outdoor experience.
j. The Grand Hall
Located in the first-floor lobby off of Van Buren, The Grand Hall will be open to the public during regular building hours Monday-Friday. It will have multiple food vendors on site that could keep your appetite satisfied all day long.
How the Old Post Office bridges Chicago's past with its strong future
Despite the fact that much of the building's interior is still under construction, these efforts have already paid off, luring tenants such as big corporations and startups. The developers also had to preserve and/or reproduce crown molding that runs throughout the offices, but they were able to make this feature work in their favor by concealing certain data cabling within. The majority of the tenant's data demands are met by more traditional cable trays, albeit preservation regulations require a white liner to hide the cables.
The south structure has historical preservation criteria as well, though they are less stringent. Although tenants are allowed to have carpet inlays in certain locations, all walkways must be polished concrete. Thousands of vehicles depart the Eisenhower Expressway every day and go beneath it on Ida B. Wells Drive, and the Old Post Office actually acts as a gateway to Chicago, looming over the western edge of the CBD. It's amazing to see the Old Post Office one of the city's largest, most visible, and historically significant landmarks reborn.
What’s nice about it is that despite the aims to renovate and restore the Old Post Office’s vintage aura, some historical materials and elements which have sat for two decades remained untouched and immaculately preserved. Hence, this brings more character to the restored Old Post Office, without compromising the durability of the new design.