Chicago, Illinois, United States
Inspired by the courtyard layout of Gordon Bunshaft’s Connecticut General Life Insurance Headquarters, architect Bruce Graham designed the Upjohn building with a series of seven interior gardens landscaped with trees, pools, stones, and sculptures. Graham was also influenced by the architecture of his native Colombia, where homes contained central, open-air courtyards that flooded interior spaces with natural light.
The low-profile structure covered 286,000 gross square feet, rising just one and a half stories. The lower level — built into the sloped ground — comprised service, garage, mechanical, cafeteria, recreation, and reception areas. The upper level housed clerical and executive offices, each with a view of the interior gardens.
Upjohn’s finishes were uniquely detailed, from its natural stone walls to its white aluminum frieze of geometric patterns that defined the roof edges. The offices were divided by moveable steel and glass screens. Other modular components included portable steel storage units and sculptural plaster ceiling tiles fitted with recessed lighting. Graham’s wife, Jane Abend, planned the interior spaces and created several original designs for the office furniture.
In the 1990s, the Upjohn company was acquired by new ownership. From 2005 to 2007, the company consolidated its offices and demolished five Upjohn buildings, including this one.