Carbide and Carbon Building (Pendry Hotel)

The Carbide and Carbon Building is unique in Chicago. Its green terra-cotta tower with shining black base and golden summit stands out in a skyline of muted shades of beige and gray and the occasional white. The legend goes that the Burnham brothers designed it to resemble a champagne bottle’s green glass topped with foil. That’s a fitting description and it makes sense considering the building was completed nine years into Prohibition, but the origin is less fanciful. Instead of being inspired by booze, this noteworthy skyscraper is an illustration of the evolution of buildings and how architects, in the best tradition of scientists, build on the works and ideas of others.

New York-based Union Carbide and Carbon wanted a Chicago presence, and they selected the Burnham brothers to make it happen. The brothers were the sons of that Burnham, the legendary force behind the White City and co-author of the Plan of Chicago. Hubert and Daniel Jr. both began working at their dad’s firm not too long before his death in 1912 and had gotten quite a bit of experience in the years since. 

Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Completed: 1929
Architects: Burnham Brothers
Address: 230 N. Michigan Ave.

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Sources for Carbide and Carbon Building (Pendry Hotel)

This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.

  • “Architecture Design Myths.” Suzanne Lovell daily, 6 May 2015.
  • “Architectural Evolution: Bryant Park Hotel through the Years.” Atlas New York, 14 Feb 2016.
  • Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 : Chicago, Ill.). Official Book of the Fair: an Introduction to a Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago June 1–November 1, 1933. 2nd ed. Chicago: A Century of Progress, 1933.
  • Chicago Landmarks Designation Report
  • Conklin, Jo-Ann; Jonathan Duval and Dietrich Neumann. “Raymond Hood and the American Skyscraper.” David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Apr – May 2020.
  • “Report Union Carbide to Build on Mich. Boul.” Chicago Tribune, 8 May 1928.
  • Wight, P. B. (Peter Bonnett), 1838-1925, A. N Rebori, and William E Parsons. Daniel Hudson Burnham And His Associates. [New York: S.n.], 1915.

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