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CNA Center's unusual red exterior
CNA Center cheers the Chicago Bears
Lighted window message for New Year's Eve 2006

CNA Center is a 600-foot (183 m), 44-story high-rise building located at 333 South Wabash Avenue in Chicago. It is a simple, rectangular International Style building, but it is unique in that the entire building is painted bright red, turning an otherwise ordinary-looking structure into one of the most eye-catching buildings in the city. It was designed by the firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and was completed in 1972. The red design was used to depict the sun setting over the ocean as illustrated by the red imagery to the west of Lake Michigan.

Originally known as Continental Center III (in reference to the original moniker of CNA Financial Corporation, Continental National American Group,[1] both CNA Center (formerly CNA Plaza) and the neighboring CNA Center North (Continental Center II, built in 1962) adjoined and were painted red. The shorter red building was later restored to its original gray tone. The two buildings remain joined at the second floor: CNA's Conference Center uses space on that floor, but all entrance and egress to it is through CNA Center.

In 1999, a large fragment of a window fell from the building and killed a woman walking with her child. CNA Financial, a property insurance company, later paid $18 million to settle the resultant lawsuit. All the buildings windows were replaced in an expensive retrofit. To this day, the firm physically checks each window monthly. Many other building owners in Chicago checked their windows for soundness, leading to a flurry of repairs and replacements.

Utilizing a combination of lights on/off and 1,600 window blinds open/closed[2] (and sometimes foamboard cutouts[3]), the windows on CNA Center are often used to display lighted window messages, typically denoting holidays, remembrances, and other events denoting Chicago civic pride, such as when the White Sox played in and won the 2005 World Series. A computer program is used to calculate which windows need to be activated to create the proper message.

Position in Chicago's skyline

311 South Wacker Willis Tower Chicago Board of Trade Building 111 South Wacker AT&T Corporate Center Kluczynski Federal Building CNA Center Chase Tower Three First National Plaza Mid-Continental Plaza Richard J. Daley Center Chicago Title and Trust Center 77 West Wacker Pittsfield Building Leo Burnett Building The Heritage at Millennium Park Smurfit-Stone Building IBM Plaza One Prudential Plaza Two Prudential Plaza Aon Center Blue Cross and Blue Shield Tower 340 on the Park Park Tower Olympia Centre 900 North Michigan John Hancock Center Water Tower Place Harbor Point The Parkshore North Pier Apartments Lake Point Tower Jay Pritzker Pavilion Buckingham Fountain Lake Michigan Lake Michigan Lake Michigan The skyline of a city with many large skyscrapers; in the foreground are a green park and a lake with many sailboats moored on it. Over 30 of the skyscrapers and some park features are labeled.


External links

Coordinates: 41°52.6330′N 87°37.5422′W / 41.877217°N 87.6257033°W / 41.877217; -87.6257033



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