Tall & Urban News

Laboratory Company Opening Office in Chicago's Tallest Building

Chicago. CC-BY-SA
Chicago. CC-BY-SA
22 June 2022 | Chicago, United States

Abbott Laboratories is opening a big new office at Willis Tower that could bring as many as 450 jobs downtown, a move meant to provide a remote work option for employees away from its north suburban headquarters.

The company has leased more than 100,000 square feet (9,290 square meters) on two floors in the city's tallest skyscraper, according to an internal memo to employees. The office will be Abbott's first-ever in downtown Chicago, according to a source familiar with the deal. Abbott will build out the new space on the 25th and 26th floors an open it the third quarter of 2023, according to the letter from Abbott CEO Robert Ford.

The letter said the new office will not be a new headquarters for Abbott but can accommodate up to 450 employees. The lease is a victory for New York-based Willis Tower owner Blackstone Group and for the pandemic-stung downtown office market overall, where vacancy stands at a record high. While many companies have reduced their office footprints to adjust to the rise of remote work, Abbott is showing the value that some are putting on offering satellite offices to help recruit and retain talent. Splitting up employees or divisions among multiple offices, however, presents logistical or worker efficiency challenges that have made some companies wary of such setups.

The Abbott memo said the downtown location will be open to all divisions and corporate functions, but that some roles will not be eligible to relocate from Lake County. The company will prioritize employees that live in zip codes in the city and do "primarily office-based" work rather than field, lab or manufacturing roles that are not entirely based in offices.

Abbott employees will have only one dedicated office—either downtown or in Lake County—and will be required to be there "for the majority of the working week," not counting business travel or vacation, the memo said. Abbott will also offer "hoteling" space in both Lake County and Willis Tower for employees to work temporarily from either location.

Abbott's deal follows an announcement last week that trading firm IMC is expanding its Willis Tower office by 45 percent to a total of 160,000 square feet (14,864 square meters) on a new 10-year lease that makes it one of the building's largest tenants.

Both deals come as Blackstone wraps up a US$500 million renovation of the tower that includes a dramatic expansion of its lower floors.

For more on this story, go to Crain's.