Consumers Building

Preservationists are trying to stop the federal government from demolishing a pair of century-old State Street buildings. | Photo by Preservation Chicago

The Century and Consumers buildings in Chicago have received preliminary approval for landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, despite federal plans to demolish them. Built in the early 1910s, the federal government acquired the buildings in 2007 for a potential office expansion that never occurred. This April, federal officials announced a $52 million plan to demolish the skyscrapers, citing security risks to the nearby Dirksen Federal Building on Dearborn Street.

Preservation Chicago has been advocating for the restoration of the Century and Consumers buildings, which are on its annual list of most endangered buildings. The organization proposes converting the buildings into a national archive to meet federal safety requirements. Landmarks Illinois leaders argue that demolishing the buildings would create a void in the heart of the Loop.

The buildings must undergo a series of approvals before they can be officially landmarked. These approvals include obtaining consent from the building owner, holding a public hearing, and securing additional votes from the landmarks commission, zoning committee, and City Council.

However, the federal government ultimately decides on the fate of the buildings. The General Services Administration (GSA) remains neutral regarding the city's process and is conducting its own regulatory review to evaluate alternative uses to reach a compromise. This review process allows consulting agencies and the state's preservation office to present their arguments for preservation, reuse, or demolition.The final recommendation from this review process is expected in December.

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Brennan Keller is a writer and creative director based in Chicago. His experience, shaped by contributions to Broadway Video, NBC, and brands like Pepsi and Amazon, informs his work at Chicago Star. His diverse portfolio can be explored at

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