The Richard J. Daley Center was originally known as the Chicago Civic Center. Located in the heart of the Chicago Loop, the Daley Center was Chicago’s first major public building to be constructed in a modern rather than a classical architectural style. The building’s architecture is International Style and was designed by architect Jacques Brownson of C.F. Murphy Associates. This architectural style is based on the revolutionary steel and glass skyscrapers of world-famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
The Daley Center has 31 floors and is the tallest flat-roofed building in the world with fewer then 40 stories (a typical 648-foot building would have 50-60 stories), owing to the high ceilings needed for courtrooms. The building has no major interior columns, only twelve exterior columns shaped in plan like a cross. These columns get narrower toward the top as they support less weight. It has 87-foot steel trusses running lengthwise and 48-foot spans running crosswise, at the time unprecedented in their dimensions. The structural bays, (87-feet) are so wide that they are often compared to bridges. The building was the first ever to be clad with untreated Corrosive Tensile (Cor-Ten) steel. Designed to rust overtime, the steel actually strengthens the structure and develops a natural rust patina giving the Daley Center its distinctive red and brown color.
The Daley Center was built to house more than 120 court and hearing rooms, the Cook County Law Library and office space for the City and Cook County. It was built by the Chicago Public Building Commission and financed by revenue bonds. The $87 million project was started February 28, 1963 and the first occupants moved into the Daley Center in May 1965. The Chicago Civic Center was renamed the Richard J. Daley Center, Richard J. Daley Plaza, on December 27, 1976 in honor of the late Mayor who died in office on December 20, 1976.