Then and Now: Randolph Tower
With its visually dramatic tower, the Steuben Club Building is one of Chicago’s finest 1920s-era skyscrapers, built during the decade when the city’s distinctive skyline took much of its present-day profile. Now known as Randolph Tower City Apartments, the historic Gothic Revival building shows off its newly restored terra-cotta clad exterior and trendy interior catching the eyes of many Chicagoans looking for a comfortable and affordable city living space.
The Steuben Club Building is a stunning historic skyscraper constructed in 1929. Built to promote German-American heritage after the First World War, American citizens of German descent sought to clubs to serve as a testimonial of their loyalty to the ideals of American citizenship. The first 25 floors were built for retail and offices and the club was located at the top floors. Designed by the noteworthy Chicago firm of Karl M. Vitzthum & Co., The Steuben Club Building is a dramatic interpretation of the Gothic Revival as seen in the photo, with buttresses, setbacks and tracery making this massive steel, concrete and terra cotta structure look as light and airy as the stone cathedrals of sixteenth-century Europe. The terra cotta exterior of the building emphasizes the popular image of the modern skyscraper through simplification and abstraction. The Steuben Club Building was also built to reflect the importance and pioneering of the city’s 1923 zoning ordinance, vision to create national club institutions with reciprocal privileges, and continuation of downtown Chicago’s long-time practiced multiple-use building layout.
- The Steuben Club Building is the former Briggs House site (ca. 1851)
- Karl M. Vitzthum, is also known for designing another important historical structure, the One North LaSalle Building.
- The tower of the Steuben Club Building, which begins at the 28th floor, has a series of setbacks that give it its prominent “telescopic” set-back appearance.
- The Gothic-revival style of the Steuben Club Building reflects another major design influence on the City of Chicago: The Chicago Tribune Competition of 1922. In this competition, architects from all over the world were invited to compete for a $100,000 prize to design the new headquarters for the newspaper on the newly created Michigan Avenue.
Today, the Steuben Club Building’s legacy lives on as Randolph Tower City Apartments. In 2011, the building began receiving a detailed exterior renovation and remolding of the interior that house 312 apartments made up of studio, convertible, one and two-bedroom, and penthouse units. In addition, it features professional conference, business and fitness centers, an indoor swimming pool nearly 300 feet above street level with an adjacent outdoor terrace, and a Sky Club with movie lounge, gourmet kitchen and bar area, gaming space, and sitting areas at fireplaces. The recently completed renovation and remodeling has made Randolph Tower one of the newest and trendiest places to rent downtown while visibility still holding true to its historic 1920’s Gothic Revival flair.
- Randolph Tower City Apartments was depicted in the 2009 film Public Enemies as a hangout for the main character, John Dillinger.
- The city of Chicago designated the structure a landmark on July 26, 2006.
- On May 22, 2007, the building was officially listed on the state of National Register of Historic Places listings in Chicago.
- The sky lit swimming pool on the building's top floor is completely original from when it was first built.
- Randolph Tower City Apartments is an environmentally friendly building as it follows the National Green Building Standard created by the National Association of Home Builders.