The Carbon and Carbide Building

The Carbon and Carbide Building

The Chicago skyline is among the most architecturally diverse in the world, spanning styles from Neoclassical and Gothic to Expressionism and Post-modernism. One of Chicago’s favorite architectural masterpieces is the Art Deco Carbon and Carbide Building. If, on your next visit, you opt to take one of our Architecture tours through the heart of Chicago, this is one of the most prominent buildings you’ll see.

The History of the Carbon and Carbide Building

Carbon and Carbide Building

The Carbon and Carbide building is a unique Art Deco building erected in 1929 on North Michigan Avenue. Originally designed by the Burnham Brothers to be the home of the Union Carbide and Carbon Company, the 503 ft. structure has undergone a number of changes since its initial dedication, from high-rise office tower, to its current incarnation as the home of the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago. Its famous golden roof has even been the set of numerous films.

The Aesthetic of the Carbon and Carbide Building

Popular legend has it that the Carbon and Carbide Building was designed to resemble a dark green champagne bottle topped with gold foil. With its stunning black granite façade, green terra cotta trim, and gold foil accents, it isn’t hard to see how that could be true.

As for the interior, the ground floor of the building features stunning black Belgian marble and an Art Deco styled bronze work trim in the lobby. Its exterior contrasts between a black granite based exterior with a black marble and green terra cotta trim. The central shaft of the building is dark green and gold terra cotta with a greenish cap that resembles malachite (but is not) and features a gold leaf trim. This central gold-trimmed shaft has been illuminated at night since 2007.

In May of 1996, these unique touches helped to make the Carbon and Carbide building a truly unique structure and landed it on the Chicago Landmark registry.

Schedule Your Architectural Tour of Chicago

Gain a new perspective on the Windy City with an architectural tour of Chicago from Shoreline Sightseeing. We offer guided architecture river tours, night architecture tours, and architecture fireworks tours, all of which leave throughout the day from Navy Pier and the Michigan Avenue Bridge.