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Chicago Office Space Guide

[Updated Oct 2020] A guide to executive suites and office space for rent in Chicago as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting offices in the city.

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The non-native history of Chicago and its surrounding areas extends back only as far as the late 18th century when Europeans began to settle and military outposts were established. Since that time, the great city of the American Midwest has become a hugely important financial center and one of the largest urbanized areas of the world.

An estimated 10 million people now inhabit the area known as Chicagoland, which covers three states, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, and currently has the fourth largest gross domestic product of any metropolitan region on earth. Having become an important transport hub for the USA as its economy grew rapidly in the 19th century, Chicago saw infrastructure investments on a massive scale and almost unprecedented rates of population growth that went on for several decades in the mid-1800s.

Another major period of development was required towards the end of the same century after a huge fire destroyed great swathes of the city, including almost all of the central business district, in 1871. The city’s central areas soon became one of the most dynamic and impressive places in America, with the world’s first steel-based skyscraper built downtown in 1885 and the city has been at the forefront of architectural endeavour ever since.

An American powerhouse

Chicago is sometimes thought of and referred to as being the most American of American cities, given its importance to the nation but its relative lack of global prestige compared with iconic destinations like New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC. There’s no doubt the city lives somewhat in the shadow of its fellow urban American giants in the imagination of the world but there’s no doubting either the strength and significance of the Windy City’s economy.

MasterCard rated Chicago as the world’s fourth most important center of commerce back in 2007, reportedly out-paced only by London, New York and Tokyo. The business district is the second largest in the US and is consistently rated as being among the most vital financial centers in the world. Some of the finest educational institutions in America are also based in Chicago and the city has given the country many of its most renowned leaders, including the current president Barack Obama, who cut his political teeth and still has a home in Illinois.

Economy and architecture

Chicago has been able to develop and maintain a remarkably diverse economy that ranges from large-scale food processing and medical supply production to media development and financial services. Many of the country’s largest businesses and Fortune 500 firms are based in the city, usually somewhere within the downtown area known locally as ‘the Loop’.

The city gave the world its first steel-frame skyscraper in the late 19th century and by the 20th these and other forward-thinking ideas on architecture were being exported across America and the world. The style of building springing up in the city’s central business district is now referred to as being from the Chicago School. Steel-frame skyscrapers of this kind have since come to dominate the skylines of most of the world’s greatest urban environments.

The Windy City retains a reputation for innovative architectural ambition and still boasts the two tallest buildings in the US, namely the Willis Tower, known for many years as Sears Tower, and Trump International Hotel, which reaches up more than a thousand feet from the banks of the Chicago River. The river runs right through the centre of the business district and is really the reason why Chicago became an important port in the formative years of the United States. It is now about the best place to get a view of the incredible Chicago skyline.

Office space for rent in Chicago

There is plenty of high-quality office space available to rent in Chicago, including prime leasehold or serviced office opportunities in the Loop. Like virtually every major business center and financial district in America, Chicago’s office space markets suffered from a relative lack of demand and falling occupancy rates in the wake of the economic downturn of recent years. However, it is generally believed by relevant analysts that commercial property markets across the city are picking up. As a result, office space to rent in Chicago is expected to be increasingly in demand.

International real estate analysis firm Cushman and Wakefield suggested recently that “the worst of the recession is coming to an end” as far as office space markets in Chicago are concerned, with vacancy rates likely to fall due to a stark lack of new properties being made available.

Tourism and culture

There are very few more visited places in America than Chicago and the major attractions there are as they have been for many years, namely the great range of restaurants, shopping malls and the awe-inspiring skyscrapers of the business district. There are also a number of stand-alone attractions that are difficult to top, including the Chicago Cultural Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Perhaps not quite as cosmopolitan as its great rivals Los Angeles and New York, Chicago nevertheless retains plenty of cultural influence from around the world and has been the site of much artistic innovation over the years. From its great orchestras and performing artists, to modern hip hop legends like Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, Chi Town continues to give the world plenty to talk, dance and sing along to.


Millions of visitors arrive in Chicago every year, whether it’s for reasons of business, pleasure or both, and this puts a strain on the local airports, which are among the busiest on earth. O’Hare International alone dealt with an almost unbelievable 64 million passengers over the course of last year and its planes regularly fly out to dozens of overseas destinations.

Buses and rapid transit vehicles criss-cross the length and breadth of the Chicago metropolitan area and a total of nine interstate highways connect the city with the rest of the country.


As the reigning Sporting News ‘best sport city’, Chicago is recognized as one the primary heartlands of many great American pastimes and athletic pursuits. The legendary Wrigley Field on the North Side is home to the Chicago Cubs, one of the biggest franchises in American sport but perennial underachievers having failed to win the World Series of baseball in over a hundred years. Meanwhile, their cross-town rivals the White Sox have won the title three times, including as recently as the 2005 season.

Chicago is perhaps less well known for its basketball franchise than it is for its baseball teams but the locally-based Bulls absolutely dominated the sport during the 1990s with the help of none other than Michael Jordan and a number of other top-class players.

Other sports play a lesser role in life across the Windy City but the local soccer team the Chicago Fire and the Blackhawks ice hockey players draw big crowds at major sporting venues on a regular basis, as does the annual Chicago Marathon, one of the best attended in the world.

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