After 26 Years, Chief Engineer of 200 W. Monroe Eyeing Retirement

From Stanley Cup celebrations to peregrine falcons, Jack Jacobsen shares some of his favorite stories from his tenure at the property
Riley Greene
May 19, 2023

Jack Jacobsen remembers fondly his 26 years serving as Chief Engineer of 200 W. Monroe, the Accesso-owned office tower located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Like most who spend a quarter-century at one job, there are bound to be moments where creativity is required to solve unforeseen problems that aren’t listed in the job description.

One of the very first challenges Jacobsen encountered at 200 W. Monroe came early in his tenure, when one of the building’s tenants complained that their office space was too hot during the summer months (even though their thermostat was cranked as low as it could go).

Jacobsen realized the property’s cooling functionality was maxed out, and that in order for the tenant to achieve the temperature it desired, 200 W. Monroe needed to add another cooling tower. Now, for properties in the suburbs, this might not be that big of an issue, but for office towers in downtown Chicago, the process for installing cooling towers is more cumbersome.

“The only choice we had was to install the new unit via helicopter lift,” Jacobsen said. “To this day, this is one of the coolest – no pun intended – moments I remember about my years at 200 W. Monroe. The pilot was an ex-helicopter pilot who served in the Vietnam war. The skill and precision that he needed to get the unit in place was unbelievable, and his dedication to completing the job was very impressive.

“The pilot was nearing 70 years old, and said that he would continue to work as long as he could because he absolutely loved his job. In a way, I share that same exact sentiment with the pilot. I loved my time working at 200 W. Monroe and never had a desire to go elsewhere.”

As with most professions, no matter how prepared you are, one thing you can always count on is to expect the unexpected. In Jacobsen’s case, the unexpected happened one morning back in 2008 when one of his staff members came to him to report that there was an injured bird on the sidewalk in front of the building.

Jacobsen found himself playing the role of a veterinarian, looking after the bird until animal control came down to rescue it and nurse it back to health. “It turns out the bird was a peregrine falcon,” said Jacobsen. “It flew into one of our front-entrance glass windows and injured a wing.”

Ever curious, Jacobsen decided to do a little more research into peregrine falcons in the Chicago area, and learned that The Field Museum of Natural History actually tags these birds, keeps track of all their nests and monitors all of the identifiable falcons. “They took our bird, nursed him back to good health and released him back to his nest,” Jacobsen said. “They kept us up to date for about a year on his progress.”

With the falcon back to thriving after a brief fall from grace, Chicago’s famed NHL hockey team found itself on a similar trajectory as Jacobsen approached his 10 year anniversary at 200 W. Monroe. After enduring some difficult years in the early 2000s, the Chicago Blackhawks soared to heights they hadn’t reached since the 1960s, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. And one can say Jacobsen had a bird’s-eye view of the Blackhawks’ victory parades.

“The City of Chicago had big parades and celebrations for them when they won the Stanley Cups in Grant Park,” he said. “The parades went straight down Monroe Street and I was able to watch the parades’ progress from the second floor of our building. There were tens of thousands of fans lined up along Monroe Street, and I felt like I had the best seat in the house each time. That was very exciting.”

In a bit of irony, as the NHL season concludes in mid-June, so too will Jacobsen’s tenure at 200 W. Monroe. While not an easy decision given the immense love he has for the property, his team members and the community, he knows that there never would have been an easy time to walk away. And with the rebuilding Blackhawks holding the first pick in the 2023 NHL draft, just maybe the property’s next Chief Engineer will get to experience the same view of a victory parade a few years from now.

“To say I loved my time at 200 W. Monroe would be an understatement,” Jacobsen shared. “I’ll always cherish the memories I made. I think back to when we were working on the property’s building automation system (BAS)…there were so many people involved in this project, and we all got along with each other. It was a privilege for me to meet and work with all of these talented people. Now the time has come, however, to let someone else have all the fun!”