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The 11-story 430 North Michigan was designed by architect Fred H. Prather and opened in 1963 as the home to Apollo Savings and Loan, which collapsed in 1968. The building gained national notoriety as the home to fictional therapist Bob Newhart, immortalized in the sitcom's opening.
The demolition of 430 North Michigan will take a lot of Chicago history with it. Not the building itself. It was never landmark quality, and while it was originally an expression of mid-century modernism, in 2008 it got a glitzy refacing and sprouted wings at the roof. In 2011, however, the Wrigley Company sold the Realtors the building behind 430 that beginning in 1934 was Riccardo's, the city's premier bar for newspaper folk, complete with murals by Ivan Albright. By the 1970's, Riccardo's began a long descent, and the building survives today as a restaurant named after its address, 437 Rush.
Billy Goat Tavern, another newsman's hangout frequented by the likes of Studs Terkel and Mike Royko. With an entrance just west of lower Michigan Avenue, it's called the basement of 430 home for half a century, and will also be be evicted, if only temporarily.
Blair Kamin noted, was that it was a hack job, done without the participation of an architect or landscape architect. Unlike the original design of the plaza, there are no benches or seating inviting pedestrians to linger. The clear message is “look, but keep moving.”
The larger question is why the National Association of Realtors picked up the tab. In negotiations with 42nd ward alderman Brendan Reilly, it came to light that the the Association was “legally responsible for maintenance of the Plaza.” Does this mean they own it? And if they do own it, will it be usurped in whole or in part by the new building? Podmolik's report only says that the new development will include “building and plaza space.”
Right now, there's a shortage of details. The entire announcement is slightly vaporous. No architect has been named, no groundbreaking date set. Podmolik reported that the Association's spokesman would only say “many details need to be worked out and that no decisions are final.” The Realtors could be trolling for financing that may never come.
If it does, however, we need to make sure that the Plaza of the Americas is not only not lost or abridged, but that Julian Martinez's sculpture of Benito Jaurez looks down on a plaza that is finally worthy both of Mexico's first President and of the site's pivotal location.