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Plaza at the Loop's Highrise Prison Getting a Makeover

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Many Chicagoans aren't aware that at the corner of Clark Street and Van Buren is a 27 story prison. The Metropolitan Correctional Center is a triangular building designed by famed architect Harry Weese, and holds federal inmates awaiting trial at the federal courthouses nearby. It wasn't designed to look like a prison from the outside, and many people pass by it daily without giving it a second glance. What caught our eye recently, though, was the construction fencing that had gone up all around the building's polygonal plaza and the heavy equipment ripping it up. The plaza was an open space, or as open as you can be when you're walled in by elevated train tracks and a cheese-wedge shaped prison, and featured both ground-level and elevated planters with trees and landscaping interspersed. Today, it's been leveled, and for unknown reasons.
When asked about the work going on, personnel at the building's front desk only knew that the "whole thing is being redone." If true, a costly redesign of the plaza is a surprising move for the chronically-underfunded prison. With land values at the south end of the Loop ramping upward it's possible that the plaza could be redeveloped for retail, but we haven't heard of any such deals. We weren't able to get in touch with 2nd Ward alderman's office for any details.

Taken 9/10 from South Clark Street, before demolition began.

Taken 9/11, one day later.

Do you know what the plan is for this space? Leave a comment or a shoot a message to the tip line.