Alderman Spikes 1,100-Foot-Tall Chicago Spire Replacement

In a blocking move that would make Hakeem Olajuwon say, “Oh, snap!” 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly pulled on his Bulls jersey, reached up with political hand spread wide, and blocked a planned supertower in Streeterville.

This ain't gonna happen.

This ain’t gonna happen.

The project in question was 400 North Lake Shore Drive, a pair of skyscrapers at the site of the long-dead Chicago Spire, and the even longer-dead Fordham Spire.  If you don’t know what either of those are, allow us to be the first to say, “Welcome to Chicago.  Try the pizza.”

The two-tower plan from Related Midwest would have put a pair of SOM-designed skyscrapers where Lake Michigan empties into the Chicago River.  The smaller tower was going to be 850 feet, and the taller one 1,100 feet.  Between the two, there would have been 1,025 residential and hotel units.

In a message to his constituents, Mr. Reilly laid it out, complete with bold, underlined text:

I have informed Related Midwest that the 400 North Lake Shore Drive Proposal will not be moving forward in its current form and is therefore rejected.

The hotel was one of the main reasons that Mr. Reilly nixed the plan, along with traffic issues, pedestrian congestion, and security at both the riverwalk component and at the future DuSable Park, which Related was going to build out.

Reilly wrote, “After sorting through community feedback, I sent a detailed memo to the Development Team on August 13th – detailing the priority issues that the Developer must address before their project could receive additional consideration for approval. Unfortunately, several weeks later, Related Midwest provided me with a response that did not adequately address any of the major concerns about their proposal.”

Another sticking point was the podium.  For the first time in a very very long time, someone in a position of power actually objects to turning Chicago’s streetscape into a warren of walls.  Perhaps Mr. Reilly thought that since this trophy tower was destined for one of the most visible plots in Chicago, and next to the most visited tourist attraction in the Midwest, the architects and developers might try a little harder and stop playing the “We need a podium to cut costs” card.

The move comes less than a week after Mr. Reilly and the Chicago Plan Commission approved a slew of other skyscrapers for downtown Chicago, including a 950-foot tall residential tower just across the river.

You can read Alderman Reilly’s full statement below, after the rendering of what might have been.  So far, nothing out of Related Midwest.  If they issue a press release, we’ll let you know.

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

400 Lake Shore Drive (Courtesy of Related Midwest)

Statement from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly:

 

I am writing to update you on the status of Related Midwest’s proposed development at 400 North Lake Shore Drive, commonly known as the “Spire Site.”

As you know, I joined with SOAR to host a community meeting on May 15th to review the Developer’s proposal. The meeting was very well attended and we received a tremendous amount of community feedback. My staff catalogued all of the community input from that meeting and we created a list of priority issues that needed to be addressed during my negotiation process with the Developer.

Over the summer, I convened numerous meetings between the Developer and nearby condominium associations to discuss their concerns with the proposal and to identify potential solutions. During that process, neighbors shared legitimate concerns regarding the hotel use; the tall podium base of the buildings; traffic concerns for East North Water Street; and security issues on the Riverwalk and at DuSable Park.

After sorting through community feedback, I sent a detailed memo to the Development Team on August 13th – detailing the priority issues that the Developer must address before their project could receive additional consideration for approval. Unfortunately, several weeks later, Related Midwest provided me with a response that did not adequately address any of the major concerns about their proposal.

I have informed Related Midwest that the 400 North Lake Shore Drive Proposal will not be moving forward in its current form and is therefore rejected.

I always strive to negotiate positive outcomes when considering development proposals. As with any project, my ultimate goal is to strike a fair balance and approve responsible projects that will be successful for the owners, while enhancing the character and vitality of the surrounding neighborhood.

That said, the Developer must address many issues related to this proposal before it may be further considered. Some (not all) of the outstanding neighborhood concerns include the following:

  • Access to the site via East North Water Street must be significantly restricted
  • Proposed hotel use should be eliminated
  • Podium height and bulk must be reduced
  • Make greater use of the Lake Shore Drive access ramp system and below grade parking system to manage deliveries, services vehicles and pick-up / drop-offs.
  • Developer must assemble a security plan for the Riverwalk and DuSable Park
  • Elimination of the proposed Ogden Slip Public Esplanade

As it stands, this project remains stalled and will not move forward. In the event the Developer chooses to address the legitimate concerns regarding their proposal, my office will be sure to provide all impacted neighbors with an update.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/10/22/alderman-spikes-1100-foot-tall-chicago-spire-replacement/

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Vista Tower Scrapes Sky In Lakeshore East, Windows Going In

If you’ve been wondering about Magellan Development’s Vista Tower lately — and we know you have — word on the street is that things are progressing nicely.

Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

The Studio Gang-designed residential and hotel tower, which will absolutely positively not look anything at all like three adjacent stacks of Chinese take-out boxes, is already tall enough to look down on former Lakeshore East belle of the ball, Aqua.  Aqua was designed by the Gang gang, too.

But today, Vista is the new hotness.  As a guest of Austrian formwork company Doka Group, YoChicago!‘s Joe Zekas got a tour of the upper reaches of the construction progress.  Those are his photographs all over this page.

We have received e-mails from readers asking where the glass is, and the good news is that glass installation has begin (visual proof above), and is expected to progress up the sides of the building very quickly.

After all, nobody wants to work 90-stories up in an unglazed building during a Chicago winter.


Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)
Construction at the Vista Tower (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/10/22/vista-tower-scrapes-sky-in-lakeshore-east-windows-on-the-way/

Another Downtown Chicago Building Lights Up the Night

There are lots of ways to add a dash of visual Tabasco sauce to a building.  You can let an artist go to town on it, like the University Center at 525 South State Street.  You can use metal patterns on the facade, like the Marquee Apartments at Block37.  Or you can simply stand back and light up the existing building in patterns of light, like The Willis Tower, The Goodman Center, The Merchandise Mart, and now 24 South Morgan Street.

Twenty-four South Morgan has something of a difficult past, but we won’t get into that here.  If you’re curious, hit this link for the blow-by-blow.  Today, it is a Near West Side apartment property with all the features you’d expect from a contemporary residential building a half-block off Madison Street.

But what makes this building a little special is the exterior light show.  Near West Spy Randall sent in the video below, showing how the facade was bathed in a color-cycling light show just a few nights ago.

It’s not the first downtown building to put on such a display.  444 North Michigan has one that is very similar.  But 444 is much smaller, and far more subtle.  You only really notice it if you happen to be the only person on the Magnificent Mile at 3am, standing at the Illinois Street pedestrian crossing in the snow, waiting for the signal to change, like a good Midwesterner.

444 has been coloring the Mag Mile for many years now, but 24 South Morgan is being a little more tentative.  The light show wasn’t operating over the weekend, so it may be in the testing phase.  Hopefully it wasn’t just for a one-off special event, and this corner of returns to its black-and-white past.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/10/22/another-downtown-chicago-building-lights-up-the-night/

You Get a Skyscraper! And You Get a Skyscraper!

You get a new skyscraper!

In its most Oprah-riffic maneuver since the great Skyscraper-palooza of 2014, the Chicago Plan Commission approved a slew of new skyscrapers for the Windy City.

In a series of votes today, the commission approved plans for 18 new towers for downtown Chicago.  To put that into a completely inaccurate and meaningless comparison, it’s like Chicago just got Indianapolis added to its skyscraper menagerie.

Rendering of 700 at the River

Rendering of 700 at the River

700 at the River

The Plan Commission approved Tribune Media’s master plan which would build more than a dozen new buildings along the north branch of the Chicago River, between Chicago and Grand Avenues.

Right now, the $2.5 billion project is penciled in with at least 12 new skyscrapers, plus a couple of other mid-rise buildings.  Naturally, this plan will evolve over the next decade, but the commission did OK the first phase of the project, which includes four buildings south of the Ohio Street feeder.

All four are residential buildings, with two of them skyscrapers.  Those are positioned next to the river.  The two smaller buildings will be 124, and 152 feet tall; the taller will be 378 and 508 feet tall.

Altogether, there will be 1,500 new homes, plus a new riverfront park. Another 3,600 homes are expected to be built in the subsequent phases.

Rendering of Tower O (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Rendering of Tower O (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Building O

After years of speculation, and several revisions, bKL Architecture’s Building O at Lakeshore East is finally going to become a thing.  The home and hospitality package will slot in to the empty space between Aqua and 300 East Randolph Street.

The top of the building will contain 640 new homes, while the bottom welcomes 570 hotel rooms.

August 2018 rendering of Lakeshore East (Courtesy of Magellan Development)

August 2018 rendering of Lakeshore East (Courtesy of Magellan Development)

Buildings I, J, and KL

The final piece of the Lakeshore East puzzle is also the most conspicuous.  Destined for the southwest corner of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, Building I, Building J, and Building KL are also bKL joints.  They will welcome mariners to the city, and be the stars of many an Instagram post in the future.

The maximum height for the $1.1 billion trio is 950 feet, with 1,700 new residences for downtown Chicago’s New East Side.

Rendering of 444 North Dearborn (via the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly)

Rendering of 444 North Dearborn (via the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly)

444 North Dearborn

Down the street, the brutal and brutalist old Engine Company 42 fire station is going bye-bye.  It was state-of-the-art when it opened in 1969, but half a century later is considered state-of-the-arc.

In its place will rise a 455-foot-tall office building, with a brand new Engine Company 42 fire station at its foot.

Rendering of the September 2018 Union Station redevelopment

Rendering of the September 2018 Union Station redevelopment

Union Station redevelopment

Finally, one of the city’s more venerable buildings is getting a new neighbor, and a hat.

The Union Station head house will have one story added to it, in order to make enough room for the building to house a new 400-room hotel.

Across the street, a 715-foot-tall office tower will rise over a 400-space underground (!) parking garage, and attached public park.

Technically the Chicago City Council still has to vote on all of these projects, but if you’ve been reading this publication for the last 16 years, you know all of this is a fait accompli.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/10/18/you-get-a-skyscraper-and-you-get-a-skyscraper/

Downtown Chicago Could Get 11 New Skyscrapers This Week

If there’s a skyscraper nerd in your office, don’t be surprised if he calls in sick on Thursday.  That’s the day the Chicago Plan Commission considers the largest number of new skyscrapers for downtown Chicago since August of 2014, when four new towers were on the docket.

This time, there are 11 major buildings in play:

  • 700 at the River in River West
    • 1,500 total residences
    • 497 car parking spaces
    • Total FAR: 8.1
    • Building One — mixed use
      • 124 feet tall
    • Building Two — mixed use
      • 508 feet tall
    • Building Three — mixed use
      • 378 feet tall
    • Building Four — mixed use
      • 152 feet tall
  • Building O at 193 North Columbus Drive in The Loop
    • 610 feet tall
    • 640 residences
    • 570 hotel rooms divided between two hotels
  • Building I, Building J, Building KL
    • Maximum height: 950 feet
    • Maximum residences: 1,700
  • Onni Grand at 353 West Grand Avenue in River North
    • 452 feet tall
    • 356 residences
    • 261 auto parking spaces
  • Engine Company 42 Tower at 444 North Dearborn Street in Near North
    • 455 feet tall
    • 614,000 square feet of office space
    • 30 parking spaces
    • A new fire station
  • Union Station redevelopment in the West Loop
    • 715 foot tall office building
    • One floor added to Union Station
    • Union Station gets a 400-room hotel
    • 265 auto parking spaces at Union Station
    • 400 auto parking spaces in the new office tower

The 700 at the River project is phase one of the redevelopment of the land west of the Chicago River that is owned by what is left of the once mighty Tribune Company, now Tribune Media, the once globally powerful information conglomerate reduced to a freshman real estate developer carrying a bunch of unwanted broadcasting properties.

The last piece of official information on this came just over a year ago, so it will be interesting to find out how the project has changed in the last 369 days. Eventually, when all three phases of 700 are complete, there will be up to 4,099 new residences, along with office buildings, retail, riverwalk, and water taxi space.

Buildings I, J, and KL in Lakeshore East have also been revised since the last official document filing with the city.  Back then, Building I was going to be 80 stories, Building J 50 stories, and Building KL 40 stories.  Expect those figures to be tweaked, but not dramatically.

In addition, there are two other projects of note:

  • An new residential building at 1535 North Dayton Street in the Goose Island neighborhood
    • 8 stories
    • 197 residences
    • 56 car parking spaces
    • 181 bicycle parking spaces
  • A presentation from the University of Chicago about its planned new hotel at 1225 East 60th Street
    • 12 stories
    • 155 feet tall

 

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/10/15/downtown-chicago-could-get-11-new-skyscrapers-this-week/

808 Wells is Back — Shorter, Wider, and With a New Name: AMLI 808

If you don’t remember us reporting on 808 Wells years ago, that’s OK.  This one’s been a long time coming.

We last mentioned 808 more than two years ago, when a sales office popped up in the Near North neighborhood.

September 2018 rendering of AMLI 808

September 2018 rendering of AMLI 808

Now called “AMLI 808,” the apartment building has appeared in the Chicago City Clerk’s office, which means its developers are serious about moving forward.

This time around, it’s no longer a podium and a 342-foot-tall tower with a butterfly roof.  It’s two adjacent blocky mated masses, clocking in at 210 feet — 132 feet shorter.

The building is right on the CTA #66 Chicago route, and a block from a CTA Brown Line station, so car parking is minimal.  Bicycle parking, on the other hand, is ample; with one space for each apartment.

Here are the deets:

  • Address: 808 North Wells Street
  • Address: 800-820 North Wells Street
  • Address: 200-208 West Chicago Avenue
  • Address: 201-209 West Institute Place
  • Developer: 808 North Wells Devco LLC
  • For realsies: AMLI
  • Architecture firm: Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture
  • Zoning: RBPD1303 → DX-7 → RBPD1303
  • Net site area: 20,802 square feet
  • Floor area ratio: 10.2
  • Maximum height: 210 feet
  • Maximum length: 218 feet, six inches
  • Maximum width: 90 feet
  • Floors: 17
  • Retail space: 6,300 square feet
  • Maximum residences: 297
  • Affordable housing: 30 units, in the building
  • Automobile parking: 16 spaces, accessed via north-south alley off West Institute Place
  • Bicycle parking: 297 spaces
  • Loading docks: 2, accessed via West Institute Place

September 2018 rendering of AMLI 808
September 2018 rendering of AMLI 808
September 2018 rendering of AMLI 808
September 2018 diagram of AMLI 808
September 2018 diagram of AMLI 808
September 2018 diagram of AMLI 808
September 2018 diagram of AMLI 808
September 2018 diagram of AMLI 808
September 2018 diagram of AMLI 808
September 2018 diagram of AMLI 808

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/10/02/808-wells-is-back-shorter-wider-and-with-a-new-name-amli-808/

110 North Wacker Gets Boot Straps, Pulls Itself Up Another Two Stories

If you were disappointed that the plan for 110 North Wacker Drive lost its nice setbacks a few months ago, there’s a consolation prize.  Developers Howard Hughes, and Riverside Investment and Development have asked the city if they can add two more floors to the skyscraper.

December 2017 rendering of 110 North Wacker (via Riverside Investments and Development)

December 2017 rendering of 110 North Wacker (via Riverside Investments and Development)

What was originally going to be a 51-story tower, then a 53-story tower, has now become a 55-story tower.  That is, if the city gives its blessing.  Which it will.

110 North Wacker is a Goettsch Partners design that will become another glassy box reflecting the Chicago River from the edge of The Loop.  It was originally going to have several setbacks, giving it some more visual appeal, but the devs needed more space and flattened the thing out.

Now they’re back for another 50,000 square feet, which they want to put on top of the building in the form of two more office floors.  The new design will make the building 820 feet tall.

Skyscrapers are like like beauty pageants: If you can’t be the prettiest, at least be tall.

September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker
September 2018 diagram of 110 North Wacker

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2018/10/01/110-north-wacker-gets-boot-straps-pulls-itself-up-another-two-stories/