1306 South Michigan Avenue was built in 1930 by architect Anker S. Graven. This sleek four-story Art Deco building, clad in limestone, was erected as the Paramount Publix Corporation as a film exchange, a venue for the presentation of films to the independent cinema operators throughout the Midwest who could rent them for exhibition at their theaters. The studio occupied the building up to about 1950, when it was taken over by the Equitable Life Assurance Company. In the 1970s it was known as the Seafarers International Union Building. The City of Chicago took possession of it in a tax sale in 1984, and used it for the Health Department’s Environmental Health Clinic. The building was acquired by Columbia College in 1999 for use as the school’s Dance Center. After extensive interior renovation and adaptation, the Dance Center opened its state-of-the-art educational and public performance facilities in the fall of 2000.


The Columbia College Dance Center Building is a three story with basement brick and reinforced concrete structure with stone cladding on its Michigan Avenue and 11th Street façades and brick on its other elevations. Its design is Art Deco, however the articulation of this style is found more in the details of the exterior than in its overall massing, which is horizontal rather than vertical. In detail, however, vertical lines dominate: the piers have faceted fluting, and the metal foliate-patterned spandrels between the upper floors and above the third floor are set back, giving vertical emphasis to the chamfered corner bays. The effect mimics the setbacks of contemporary highrises, and the detailing makes the building look in some respects like an unfinished or truncated skyscraper. The façade is limestone, with a granite facing at the base and elaborately carved foliage details around the portal. Despite its small size, the building communicates a sense of the monumental in its scale and design.

Quick Facts

  • Name: Dance Center
  • Address: 1306 South Michigan Avenue
  • Size: 80 feet x 171 feet, 3 stories
  • Architect: Anker S. Graven, 1929-1930
  • Original Name: Paramount Publix Film Exchange
  • Other Names:
    • Seafarers International Union Building
    • City of Chicago, Department of Health, Environmental Health Clinic
  • Acquired by College: 1999
  • Original Building Type: Office
  • Style: Art Deco

Information taken from the 2005 Campus Preservation Plan.