Both men were being held in the Chicago lockup, which houses around 700 inmates awaiting trial in the Dirksen Federal Building a few blocks away.
Architect Harry Weese designed the building in the mid-1970s shortly after notorious prison riots in Attica, N.Y., and was asked to design a "more humane" lockup, said Jennifer Lucente of Chicago Architecture Foundation. That was one reason Weese ensured each cell had a window, she said.
The brother of Hollywood director Christopher Nolan also tried to escape in 2010. Matthew Nolan, who was being held pending an extradition request, was sentenced to 14 months in jail for plotting to escape the high-rise jail by hiding a rope made out of bed sheets in his cell.
Associated Press writer Sara Burnett contributed to this report.