CNA Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
CNA Center
CNA Center.jpg
CNA Center's unusual red exterior
General information
Status Complete
Type Office
Location 333 S Wabash Ave
IL 60604
United States
Coordinates 41°52.6330′N 87°37.5422′W / 41.8772167°N 87.6257033°W / 41.8772167; -87.6257033Coordinates: 41°52.6330′N 87°37.5422′W / 41.8772167°N 87.6257033°W / 41.8772167; -87.6257033
Construction started March 1970[1]
Completed 1972[1]
Opening 1973
Roof 600 ft (183 m)[1]
Technical details
Floor count 44
Floor area 1,299,990 sq ft (120,773 m2)
Design and construction
Architect Graham, Anderson, Probst & White

CNA Center is a 600-ft (183 m), 44-story high-rise building located at 333 South Wabash Avenue in the central business district of Chicago, Illinois.


CNA Center is a simple, rectangular International Style building, but it is unique in that the entire building was painted bright red by Eagle Painting & Maintenance Company, Inc., 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.[1]


As of 2014, CNA occupied 65 percent of the tower.[2] Other occupants included The Chicago Housing Authority and United Way.[2][3]


Originally known as Continental Center III, in reference to the original moniker of CNA Financial Corporation, Continental National American Group,[4] 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 in 1999,[5] 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. Windows had been cracking at the building ever since it had been built in 1975. CNA Financial, a property insurance company, later paid $18 million to settle the resultant lawsuit. All of the building's windows were replaced in an expensive retrofit.[6][7]

Lighted window messages[edit]

Chicago skyline with the CNA Center (far left) showing the Chicago Blackhawks' logo, the Smurfit-Stone Building saying Go Hawks and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower saying Hawks Win the night after the 2009–10 Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, viewed from the Petrillo Music Shell lawn in Grant Park

Utilizing a combination of lights on/off and 1,600 window blinds open/closed[8] (and sometimes foamboard cutouts[9]), 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 Blackhawks played in and won the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. A computer program is used to calculate which windows need to be activated to create the proper message.

Position in Chicago's skyline[edit]

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 Crain Communications 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 MichiganThe 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.
CNA Center cheers the Chicago Bears 
Lighted window message for New Year's Eve 2007 


  1. ^ a b c d CNA Plaza on
  2. ^ a b Steve Daniels for Crain's Chicago Business. March 24, 2014 Why jobs and revenue are going opposite directions at CNA
  3. ^ Abraham Tekippe for Crain's Chicago Business: Chicago Real Estate Daily. December 14, 2012 December 14, 2012 United Way moving to CNA Center
  4. ^
  5. ^ CNA Plaza North
  6. ^ Chicago Architecture Info CNA Center Accessed July 13, 2014
  7. ^ Louise Kiernan for the Chicago Tribune. February 14, 2002 CNA window death settled for $18 million
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links[edit]