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Changes coming to Chase Tower plaza

JPMorgan Chase has confirmed plans to make changes to the block-wide Exelon Plaza

Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Jonathan Hartsaw

As the development boom continues in downtown Chicago, one of the Loop’s best known outdoor plazas is being targeted for an overhaul. According to the Tribune, JPMorgan Chase has revealed that it is looking to make changes to the block-long Exelon Plaza at the base of Chase Tower.

The plaza, which dates back to the early 1970s when the First National Bank Building was demolished, features a prominent sunken court and Marc Chagall’s colorful mosaic “The Four Seasons.” For decades, the open plaza area has been a popular gathering spot for office workers during lunch breaks, but a spokesperson with Chase tells the Tribune “it's time” to make changes to it.

As depicted in this 1977 promotional film, the plaza at the base of Chase Tower (originally First National Plaza) has long been a gathering spot for office workers.

The plaza has been utilized for popup events and attractions over the years, but a Chase spokesperson tells the Tribune that the New York-based bank that owns the building and plaza wants to “make it more inviting and enhance the experience of being in the plaza.” And with ongoing concern over the future of Chicago’s great public art and sculpture from the twentieth century, Chase reps tell the Tribune that there are no plans to alter or remove Chagall’s mosaic from the plaza.

Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Chris Wilson

However, Preservation Chicago suggests that any dramatic or significant changes to the existing plaza could compromise the architectural integrity of the late modernist tower and plaza, affecting its potential for future landmarking. Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago Executive Director, suggests to the Tribune that the plaza could one day be targeted for redevelopment without landmark protections. However, Chase reps say that there are no plans to build a new tower at the site.