After nearly a century in their namesake tower, the Chicago Tribune relocated to five floors in Prudential Plaza, a midcentury office building facing Millennium Park. The flexible new space gives the newspaper and digital content headquarters a functional workplace distinctive to their 171-year history and fit for today’s fast-paced world of publishing. Our open plan encourages collaborative work practices, and allows for all of the needs of a modern media center—from a state-of-the-art breaking newsroom, to a test kitchen, to personal lockers and adjustable-height desks. Street-facing conference rooms reflect the core values of transparency and honesty, and the stair—a major architectural addition to the building— creates a strong statement of urban permanence.
We sourced photos, comics, front pages and publishing artifacts to weave into the high contrast, monochromatic scheme, referencing the numerous contributions made throughout their long publishing history. Early in the design process, the vertical series of floors rising from street level were envisioned as a hive of cultural production, with the core artery being a monumental staircase. 57 millwork steps, made from reclaimed urban oak trees sourced around Chicagoland, are more than just a dramatic path from the ground to the creative areas—they provide a flexible, dynamic place for communication with more than 2,000 square feet of stadium seating facing a projection of the 24-hour news cycle. The immense, communal staircase spans the greatest distance of any in the city. The Tribune also inhabits the 40th floor of the building, where we created executive workspaces, a 2,200-square foot event space and a test kitchen equipped to photograph and record cooking demos. In order to make the once dark floor more functional and pleasant, three new large windows were punched, altering Prudential’s south-facing facade and expanding the views of Millennium Park and the lake.