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1160 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL


Exterior of The Columbian
Building Information
Developer The Davis Group
Architect DeStefano + Partners
Number of Units 225
Number of Floors 46
Year Built 2008
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof IRMA
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1160 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
Distance to Public Transit Within one block
Region Chicago
Municipality Chicago
Zoning PD 815
Title of Land Condominium



Constructed from 2005 to 2008 by developers The Davis Group, and designed by renowned architects DeStefano + Partners, The Columbian is a residential high-rise of 46 floors offering 225 homes in the ideal Chicago location of South Loop. The architects chose to design a hand-set masonry exterior to differentiate The Columbian among its glass and concrete exterior neighboring buildings. With an old world feel, brick façade, and saw-tooth silhouette, The Columbian takes on a world of uniqueness and is now the largest masonry building east of the Mississippi River.

The Columbian
Built on the southwest corner of Grant Park on the former site of the Avenue Motel, The Columbian offers a full-service residential building, offering its residents everything from full-time door staff, to a private dog run, to a common fitness area and sundeck.

The convenient location in South Loop, on the corner of South Michigan Avenue and East Roosevelt Road, the residences offer views of Michigan Lake, Downtown Chicago, and Millennium and Grant Parks. At the end of Printers Row in South Loop is the oldest train station in Chicago, Dearborn Station. It has now been converted to retail and office space.

Much of the South Loop neighborhood includes former rail-yards that have been transformed, such as Dearborn Park and Central Station. There are many residential building that are converted warehouses and factory lofts. Historically, South Loop was home to brothels, bars, burlesque theaters and arcades. Inexpensive hotels in the area made it one of the city's Skid Rows until the 1970s.[1]


The community of South Loop offers the highest of recreational, shopping, and entertainment opportunities. Although it is a trendy area, it also has much history, with the Cultural Mile - which is an area that's said to be "where culture meets commerce" - stretching north of The Columbian, offering the Auditorium Theatre, Art Institute, and Symphony Center.

The Museum Campus is to the east, which is home to the world renowned Field Museum, Alder Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and Soldier Field. The Columbian residences conveniently rest on the outskirts of the southern tip of Grant Park and Millennium Park, where many attractions await. An open-air skating rink and gardens can be found at Millennium Park, along with the famous Buckingham Fountain - which offers daily water shows - as well as the famous tourist attraction of the Navy Pier being just a short distance north.

Miles of lake-shore jogging and biking trails are within walking distance, many of which go through Grant Park. Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile, which offers the highest quality shopping, also awaits nearby. Roosevelt Road - the retail district - is also within walking distance.

Access to the Metra subway is less than two blocks away, and car share programs like I-GO and Zipcar stop at the doorstep of The Columbian. The area is deemed to be "very bike-able" with flat roads and good lanes.

Nearby schools include South Loop Elementary, Renaissance Preparatory School, and Old St Mary's School.[2]


The Columbian is a high-rise residential condominium of postmodern style, standing at 46 floors or 517 feet high, and encompassing a total area of 572,000 square feet. The Columbian cost $81,500,000 to build.

The initial design of The Columbian called for a taller build with a sharp, hundred-foot pyramid roof. In early 2002 the design was shortened by 493.13 feet by removing the pyramid, and in 2005 a hip roof was added to the design.

It is built of concrete by The Davis Group developers, and since its completion in January of 2008, has been crowned with the title of the tallest brick-clad building in Chicago. With a concrete frame construction and a brick veneer/precast façade, The Columbian ranks number 76th in height for the tallest skyscraper award in Chicago.

The building has a wider base where parking resides on levels two through eight, with a narrower residential tower resting atop of it. The tower exudes many windows, although it does not have an almost completely glass exterior like many modern building do. The building has an "old world" charm and an appearance of sturdiness with its concrete build and warm brick façade.

The building has many in-laid balconies that can be seen from the exterior. The penthouse floors are of a slimmer stature, and resting atop is a peaked roof.[3]

Layout and Features

With 15 different layouts that are all one of a kind and range in size from one to three bedroom residences, each unit is quite spacious with the largest unit being a three bedroom, three and half bathroom penthouse suite of 3,690 square feet. The variation of one, two, and three bedroom units all offer at least one balcony with ceiling heights starting at 8'6 feet and going up to 9 feet high in the penthouse units, which are located on floors 40 through 46. Penthouse units offer huge walk-out balconies to enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding nature and city.

The residences also offer gourmet kitchens with high-end stainless steel appliances, gas cook tops, wooden cabinetry, granite counter tops, 4 inch back splashes, built-in microwave ovens, double-bowl stainless steel under-mount sinks, and industrial style pull-out faucets.

The bathrooms feature marble-top vanities, marble tile flooring, 6 foot whirlpool tubs with separate showers, Grohe faucets, and frame-less vanity-length mirrors.

Hardwood flooring can be found throughout the residences, with plush carpeting in the bedrooms. Solid-core doors with chrome lever handles are installed, as well as professionally painted walls in soft white. All residences offer in-unit laundry with GE washers and dyers, as well as central air conditioning.[4]

Floor Plans

There are 15 floor plans available for The Columbian. Here is a brief overview:


Amenities at The Columbian include:

  • Full Staff
  • Concierge
  • 24 Hour Doorman
  • Fitness Center
  • Entertainment Suite
  • Mezzanine Rooftop Deck
  • On-site Property Management
  • Dog Run
  • Office Center
  • Refrigerated Storage
  • Central Air Conditioning


Columbian Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No
Barbecues Yes

Pets are allowed at The Columbian, with a pet count limitation.

Rentals are allowed and there are no age restrictions on ownership.


Being in a central location that is arguably one of the most convenient, The Columbian offers its residents the ease of access to the nearby landmarks that many residents of Chicago have to battle their way through traffic to reach. Directly outside the doorstep of The Columbian is access to the Metra train station - should the residents need to leave the area - and all other amenities are accessible on foot. Car free daily travel makes The Columbian a sustainable living building.

The building also employees energy efficient, high end appliances in each of the gourmet kitchens of every residence. Double-pane, energy efficient windows help to keep warm air inside the building, while central air conditioning helps residents keep cool in the warmer months.


Marketing Campaign for The Columbian

The Columbian residences had an intriguing perspective on marketing and gaining exposure during the initial months of first opening the project to the public and putting the units up for sale.

Marketing campaigns included sultry images of fashion models, along with catchy and intriguing words about why the public needed to have one of The Columbian's luxury residences. With much publication coming their way, The Columbian sold out rather quickly in a down-turned market of its completion in 2008, perhaps due to its creative marketing plan.

The Sales and Marketing consultants hired to complete the job were Garrison Partners, with the Director of Sales, Kay Varga, largely in charge of making the magic happen. Instead of simply putting the units on the market and waiting for the buyers to show up with cash, Kay Varga took a more aggressive approach, even getting The Columbian featured in widely read publications like Chicago Sun Times.

An expensive grand unveiling party was thrown by Kay Varga and her team of specialists to debut the Penthouse Collection, also known as the "Crown Jewel," at The Columbian. The event was a wild success, with more than 200 Chicago area brokers showing up to the debut. The event was co-hosted by Chicago Agent Magazine, and guests were offered complimentary “head shots” with the city and lake as their backdrop in the luxury penthouse suites.[5]


  1. Emporis
  2. Walk Score
  3. Skyscraper Page
  4. The Columbian Chicago
  5. The Columbian Chicago

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