Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse - Chicago, IL
In 1960, Congress authorized the U.S. General Services Administration to construct a new office complex in Chicago’s Loop District, consolidating over thirty agencies formerly scattered throughout the city. World-renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe served as chief designer on the project and was assisted by three Chicago architectural firms. The new U.S. Courthouse was the first of the complex’s three buildings to be completed, and its tenants occupied the new space by 1965.
Standing at 28 stories tall, the Dirksen Courthouse features a glass-enclosed great hall that spans the center of the courthouse, serving as a visual gateway through the complex. The exterior of the building, characteristic of Mies’s designs, is composed of flat black graphite-painted steel and bronze-tinted glass panes. The courthouse was designed with fifteen, two-story courtrooms located on the top ten stories of the building. Courtrooms were located away from the exterior walls to reduce audio and visual distractions. During the 1990s, additional courtrooms were created within the building in a style complimenting the original details. Such future expansion was incorporated into Mies’s initial design.
The Courthouse was renamed to honor longtime Illinois Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen after his death in 1969. Distinguished guests at the dedication ceremony in 1970 included United States Senators from Illinois Charles H. Percy and Ralph T. Smith, and Congressman John C. Kluczynski.
The Courthouse replaces the Beaux Arts Chicago Federal Building designed by Henry Ives Cobb constructed between 1898 and 1905. Bounded by Dearborn, Adams, and Clark streets, and Jackson Boulevard and topped by a dome, the building design was a six-story Greek cross over a two –story base. The building was demolished in 1965 and replaced with the current Federal Plaza