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Meet the newest riverfront buildings in the Loop with Chicago Architecture Center Docents

Posted  2 years ago  by  Ariella Gibson

2 MIN READ – There’s even more to Chicago’s iconic skyline than what first meets the eye. Each building in and around the Loop has its own rich history, and there’s no better way to learn their stories than on a Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady.

Expertly trained docents provide a behind-the-scenes look at the city’s past, present, and future as guests enjoy an open-air tour along the river. Now celebrating 50 years of tours, the Chicago Architecture Center’s docent program is renowned for its ability to take complex architectural ideas and translate them into compelling narratives that everyone can enjoy.

The past year alone brought a number of exciting updates to the riverfront. On the South Branch, the Bank of America Tower fits in comfortably among established icons like Willis Tower and the Civic Opera Building. The tower curves along with the river’s edge, lending it a subtle organic quality that is complemented by dramatic trident trusses and panels reclaimed from the demolished General Growth Building.

The St. Regis Chicago is the latest addition to the canyon wall of tall buildings along Wacker Drive. Although it is nestled in among other striking buildings, this tower—the third tallest in Chicago—stands out thanks to its curvaceous crystalline façade that features seven shades of thermal glass. This unmistakable gem is hard to miss and impossible to ignore on a cruise along the river.

At Wolf Point, two of three new towers are complete in time for the summer tour season, with the third, Salesforce Tower, under construction. This trio was designed to be as transparent as possible in order to preserve striking river views. This is never more apparent than when traveling north aboard Chicago’s First Lady, as Wolf Point comes into view, blending in seamlessly at the confluence of the river’s three branches. 

Not to be outdone, the renovated Old Post Office is another recent improvement along the Loop’s riverfront. At one time the largest post office in the world, the formidable Art Deco building, which sat vacant for years, went through a massive overhaul in 2019 to transform it into first-class office space. Although not a sky-high tower, the Old Post Office is a dominating presence thanks to its sheer mass and eye-catching limestone façade.

The Loop is getting back to its bustling self, with beloved old and exciting new attractions alike opening up along the riverfront. Discover new stories about important Chicago buildings and sites, as well as the colorful cast of historical figures who have influenced life along the river, with Chicago Architecture Center docents this spring and summer. Book your tickets for a Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady today at architecture.org.

Have you already taken a river cruise with CAC docents? Show your support by voting for the only Chicago cruise nominated for “Best Boat Tour” by the travel editors at USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Cast your votes between now and June 7 here.