The beautiful bank building
The National was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham for Commercial National Bank, which had it built in 1907. Through the decades it was home to Commonwealth Edison and later Chicago Public Schools’ headquarters until 2014. Blue Star Properties bought it in 2015, and has since sunk in an additional $100 million into revitalizing the 20-story structure.
“It’s not a restoration so much as a reinvention, where we put our take on it,” says Blue Star founder Craig Golden, “I call it a histo-remix.” Golden is the other half of 16” On Center with Bruce Finkelman. The group has a knack for reinventing old spaces, having facelifted such iconic haunts as the sprawling Bohemian theater Thalia Hall and divey Wicker Park venue Empty Bottle.
Revival’s sole holdover from the original building (aside from the restored facade) is the floor, but details like cast tile on the mirrored pillars hint at the style Burnham favored. Several portions of the building’s history have been adaptively repurposed, too, like the 43ft CPS boardroom table turned massive communal table anchoring the Revival coffee shop/cocktail bar; or the Commonwealth Edison executive suite, which was broken down and rebuilt piece by piece, including the fireplace, in the new sixth-floor tenant lounge (tenants include co-working space provider WeWork and Paper Source). The original bank vault still remains in the basement as well and will eventually be used as an events space.