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The Eight Most Endangered Buildings in Chicago

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The Thompson Center takes the top spot on this year's list

Chicago is a city that is known for its bold, modern architecture and historic buildings. However, many important buildings are lost over the years due to neglect or new development. Every year, the city's leading preservation group, Preservation Chicago, announces a list of seven significant buildings that they deem to be the most endangered. This year, the organization broke the mold to highlight eight structures that are currently threatened. While the future of these buildings remains uncertain, the hope is that they may be saved by raising awareness.

James R. Thompson Center - Helmut Jahn (1985)

Why it's endangered: Last October, Governor Bruce Rauner announced his desire to unload the Thompson Center from the state's books by auctioning off the postmodern structure. Over the years, the state has allowed the building to deteriorate, causing many to view the building as an eyesore. If the building is sold to a developer, it's almost certain that the Thompson Center would be demolished to make way for a new development.

McCormick Place's Lakeside Center - C. F. Murphy and Associates (1971)

Why it's endangered: At the same time Gov. Rauner was calling for the sale and possible demolition of the Thompson Center, the Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin was promoting the idea of demolishing the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place. The squat, black, Miesian building, which Kamin referred to as "the shoreline's Berlin Wall," is actually not the first building to stand at the site. At the time it was completed, the Lakeside Center was an engineering marvel and the largest convention hall in the country. Major changes are happening around McCormick Place, with the building of a new entertainment district that includes an arena, a hotel and a data center. And with these big changes comes a concern over the future of the Lakeside Center.

The Nellie Black and Martha Wilson Pavilions - Holabird & Roche, Pickney & Johnson (1920s)

Why they're endangered: The former Children's Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park is about to undergo a major transformation as developers prepare for a mega-redevelopment of the property, which will include two mixed-use towers. Many existing buildings on the site will be meeting the wrecking ball, and there is concern that two Renaissance Revival buildings on the edge of the property could be lost. These two building come from noted architects and are not currently protected by landmark status. Preservationists hope that the facades of these buildings will be kept and repurposed in the redevelopment of the old hospital site.

Washington Park National Bank - Albert Schwartz (1924)

Why it's endangered: This old bank building in the Woodlawn neighborhood has fallen into disrepair over the years and sits vacant. There have been some promising renovations of historic buildings throughout the South Side in recent years (the Stony Island Arts Bank for example), but there remains no plan for this limestone-clad structure. Preservationists hope that developers will one day restore this once-proud neoclassical/Art Deco building.

Sears Roebuck and Company Stores - Various architects (1927 - 1942)

Why they're endangered: It's no secret that the once-mighty Sears company is struggling. Throughout much of the twentieth century, the company was the world's largest retailer. Today, the company continues to close stores and lay off employees due to declining sales. Sears, and the larger merchandising industry, played an important role in Chicago's economic growth and architecture, but there is now an increasing concern that some of the more historic Sears locations could be lost. Preservation Chicago highlighted seven different Sears locations in this year's Chicago 7 list.

Old Chinatown buildings - Various architects (Various years)

Why they're endangered: This stretch of buildings was Chicago's original red-light district and was once known as "Little Cheyenne" — a moniker that was earned due to the lawlessness and "wild west" atmosphere it once had. Today, the buildings, with their ornamental exteriors, remain as some of the oldest surviving examples of post-Chicago Fire architecture. However, due to neglect and encroaching development, there is concern that this stretch of buildings could become history.

LaSalle and Van Buren CTA Station Houses - J.A.L.Waddell (1897)

Why it's endangered: These old fronts to the elevated CTA station that stands above street-level at LaSalle and Van Buren is well over a century old and are definitely showing their age. Designed by the architect John Alexander Low Waddell, these facades are the last remaining original downtown station houses that are still fully intact. Last year, the CTA demolished the equally old station house at Madison and Wabash to make way for a new Loop superstation that will take the place of two previous 'L' stations.

St. Adalbert Catholic Church - Henry B. Schlacks (1912)

Why it's endangered: Preservation Chicago broke from their "Chicago Seven" mold this year to included Pilsen's St. Adalbert as an eighth entry to the list. The Renaissance Revival church with its two towers is the tallest structure in Pilsen, however its future is uncertain as the Archdiocese of Chicago recently announced the church's closure. The church's elaborate ornamentation doesn't stop on the exterior however. The church's interior, which includes a stained glass dome, is just as ornate.

·The Chicago Seven 2016 [Preservation Chicago]

·Mapping Chicago's Seven Most Endangered Buildings in 2015 [Curbed Chicago]