Chicago’s Pioneer Court Apple Store Opens in 3… 2… 1…

Apple’s new Michigan Avenue flagship store opens for business this morning.  The Cupertino, California computer and gadget company made a splash several years ago when it revealed that it would shutter its 2003 flagship at Michigan and Huron and move six blocks down the street to take over the underground cafeteria and utility space at 401 North Michigan Avenue.

Apple Store Pioneer Court (Courtesy of Apple)

Apple Store Pioneer Court (Courtesy of Apple)

The most important thing the building did is create a workable connection between the elevated Upper Michigan Avenue, and the pedestrian walkway that runs along the north bank of the Chicago River.  A cascade of stairs now runs down from the existing public plaza to a new public space on the edge of the river.  It is reminiscent of Rome’s Spanish Steps, but instead of flowing around a 17th-century observation point with balustrade, Chicago’s steps flow around a retail store.

As promised, the actual “retail” portion of this retail space is subtle.  While tables and trees and seating cubes suitable for under-30’s who haven’t had back problems yet  are visible from the public areas, the actual merchandise is tucked underneath the plaza at the back of the store.

Apple Store Pioneer Court (Courtesy of Apple)

Apple Store Pioneer Court (Courtesy of Apple)

What we didn’t get is the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired wood-and-leaded-glass pavilion we expected.  The monumental glass walls are curved.  The supports inside are metal.  The floating roof — the store’s most prominent architectural feature — isn’t that familiar, organic, wood frame from the sketches.  Instead, it’s a shiny man-made bulge that looks like a 1999 iBook, though without the Bondi blue accents.

Admittedly, 90% of visitors will never see the roof.  They’ll see the underside, which actually is lined in wood.  That’s the same angle that was presented in all of the pre-construction sketches.

Apple Store Pioneer Court (Courtesy of Apple)

Apple Store Pioneer Court (Courtesy of Apple)

Overall, the building appears to be a success.  When it opens in a few minutes, we’ll find out for sure.  It accomplishes a pedestrian connection that the city never could.  It turns a disused, confusing riverside location into an active public space.  And even though Apple, as a company, seems to have lost its way in the post-Jobs era, it’s still cool to have a big honking Apple Store in the middle of your city.  This is a trophy worthy of Chicago.

from Chicago Architecture


The 78 Chicago — The Huge Plan for Downtown That Actually Could Happen

Over the last couple of years, Chicago’s traditional and new media have been ablaze with huge headlines about massive bigger real estate development projects all over town.  While most are eager to print even the most fanciful claims and screwball ideas just to generate clicks, we take a more measured approach around here.

With a logo straight outta 1978, it's comfortably neo post retro. (Screenshot)

With a logo straight outta 1978, it’s comfortably neo post retro. (Screenshot)

Which is why it’s refreshing to bring you news of The 78 — an enormous institutional research nexus planned for the South Loop that actually has a very good chance of happening.  Though the politicians backing it are quick to point out that it depends, in part, on private donations and funding, this is one of the few big new projects that stands a snocone’s chance in Little Italy.

Governor Bruce Rauner made the official announcement about the project in the wasteland just south of Roosevelt Road along the Chicago River this morning.  He was flanked by politicians of lesser stature, as well as representatives from Related Midwest, upon whose wide acres the acorns of innovation will be planted.

The 78 Chicago screenshot

In this portion of The 78’s promotional video, we see that it has convenient CTA Red, Orange, and Green Line access; seasonal water taxi service (yellow); and distant South Shore interurban love (cyan). The pink line which bypasses the site is certainly not a subliminal message to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the RTA that this would be a good place for a new Metra station.

When we first reported on this yesterday, things were a little muddy.  Now that everything is official, it makes a bit more sense.  So, follow along and we’ll work through this together:

  • The 78 is the new name for the 62 acres of fallow ground between Roosevelt Road and Chinatown owned by Related Midwest.  People who like to note its political past sometimes call it Rezkoland.  (If you don’t know why, Google is your friend.)  Related likes “The 78” because it reinforces the notion that it could someday be recognized as Chicago’s 78th neighborhood.
  • The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) is a research quango that will conduct research with the aim of turning ideas from academia into real-world ideas, products, and benefits.  Think of it as a miniature version of Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.  On the institutional side are The University of Illinois, The University of Chicago, and Northwestern University.  On the corporate side… we’re still in wait-and-see mode.  The DPI will occupy an unspecified portion of The 78 — land that will be donated by Related Midwest.
  • The DPI is the first part of the Illinois Innovation Network, which will eventually have campuses across the state.

So if you’re not a researcher working on “computing and big data, food and agriculture, and health and wellness,” what’s in it for you?  How about a nice new section of Chicago Riverwalk?  We’re talking a half-mile long and one hundred feet wide.

Also on offer are a lot of pretty new buildings.   As Related likes to tout, this is a blank slate for development.  It’s hired famed former Chicago architecture firm SOM to design the project, and has a history of fostering good architecture, from One Bennett Park near Navy Pier to its sister architecture petting zoo known as Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan.  It’s not unreasonable to expect great things here.

At this point, a word of caution is in order.  There are a lot of renderings of this project around.  But don’t get too attached to them.  Remember, this project is still in its infancy.  It hasn’t been funded on either the public or the private side.  And Related Midwest still hasn’t decided how much land it’s going to hand over to DPI/IIN/MOUSE.  But again, with names like Related and SOM on the tote board, there’s no reason not to expect something above average.

As always, the press release follows the pictures.

Rendering of The 78's Riverwalk (Architecture firms: SOM and Hollwich Kushner, rendering by ICON)
Rendering of The 78's Riverwalk (Architecture firm: SOM, rendering by DBOX)
Rendering of The 78's Education Hub and Riverwalk (Architecture firms: SOM and 3XN, rendering by ICON)

Related’s The 78 to Be Site of Planned Discovery Partners Institute

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner reveals innovation plan with University of Illinois System; Related donates land to jump-start project

CHICAGO (Oct. 19, 2017) – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen today unveiled plans for an interdisciplinary public-private research and innovation center known as the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) at The 78, a mixed-use, master-planned development by Related Midwest. The new facility is planned to be developed on a donated portion of the 62-acre site bordered by Roosevelt Road, Clark Street, 16th Street and the Chicago River in downtown Chicago. In selecting The 78, DPI will anchor a new neighborhood offering dynamic residential, commercial, academic, civic, cultural and recreational experiences.

DPI is the inaugural step in the development of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), which will join businesses, public sector partners and research universities to focus on the study of computing and big data, food and agriculture, and health and wellness. Led by the U of I System, with its campuses in Champaign, Springfield and Chicago, DPI will bring students, world-class faculty and businesses together to share ideas and take them into their respective communities.
“DPI will help drive economic growth for generations,” said Gov. Rauner. “It combines our state’s most valuable resources in education, technology and business so we can attract venture capital to build the businesses – and jobs – of the future.”

“This campus for innovation, anchored by the University of Illinois, will be a transformative force on the South Side of Chicago and for all of Chicago,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I look forward to working with the Governor and the many partners involved as we turn this vision into a reality.”

The 78, in development by Related Midwest, is master-planned in partnership with world-renowned architecture firm SOM and calls for a curated mix of residential, commercial, institutional, cultural and recreational uses, including 40 percent green and open space and a half-mile of developed riverfront that will expand the city’s existing Riverwalk. An extension of Chicago’s central business district, The 78 will connect to the downtown core via the new Wells-Wentworth Connector and to the entire city via bike-friendly streets and proximity to all major transit lines.

“Leveraging Related’s extensive experience in international placemaking, The 78 will be a transformative downtown neighborhood designed to respond to the rapidly changing demands of future generations, making it the ideal location for a dynamic institute like DPI,” said Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest. “Research, education and innovation are guiding principles for The 78 – one of the largest and most ambitious projects ever conceived in Chicago – so when we learned of the U of I System’s mission, we were eager to not just support it, but accelerate it by providing a blank canvas on which the institute can be developed.”

The $1.2 billion DPI will be operated through private donations, government support and partnerships with business and industry. The size of the institute’s site on The 78 is still to be determined, and the university will work in conjunction with Related Midwest’s design and development teams to determine the exact location. An implementation plan that will include a timetable for the opening is expected to be complete next year.

“The 78 will provide students, faculty and corporate partners with a world-class setting in which they can live, study and work – ultimately pairing graduates with high-quality jobs within the immediate neighborhood as leading employers establish a presence there,” Bailey said. “By fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and creating an urban experience unlike any other in the country, our hope is that students, including those from out of state, will decide to remain in Chicago – and The 78 in particular – long after they finish their studies, in some cases starting their own business enterprises that will contribute to our city’s diverse economy.”

At full operation, DPI plans to have as many as 90 faculty members – sourced from the U of I System’s three universities as well as partner institutions – and approximately 1,800 graduate and undergraduate students who will spend one to four semesters living in Chicago while working at DPI and other businesses throughout the city. In connecting students with top research faculty in agriculture, healthcare, computing and other critical fields, as well as with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, DPI will promote cutting-edge research and product development designed to address real-world challenges facing the city and state.

“This unique new institute will add to the momentum that has been developing in Chicago to create an innovation infrastructure at the kind of scale that can massively accelerate progress and economic development in our state,” Killeen said. “It will build on the U of I System’s long, rich history of pioneering innovation, and a legacy of service to Illinois and to this global city that dates back more than a century.”


from Chicago Architecture

“The 78” to Transform Chicago’s South Loop

If you’ve been wondering why things have been so quiet between Roosevelt Road and Chinatown, it turns out things have been going on behind the scenes.  Big things.

Rendering of The 78

Rendering of The 78

Tomorrow morning, Governor Bruce Rauner will announce a public-private partnership that will turn the 62-acre site owned by Related Midwest into a massive collegiate research park.  The academics involved in “The 78” innovation center are the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University. The term “The 78” comes from the notion that this will become Chicago’s 78th neighborhood.

The 78 Chicago logo

According to the Chicago Tribune, the new campus will have upwards of 2,000 people — 90 faculty, 1,800 students, plus support staff.  The total cost of the facility is expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Part of it from the sale of the Thompson Center downtown.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that the folks downstate decided that Chicago needed some Urbana-Champain love.  The last time was in the mid-1960’s when most of the city’s Little Italy neighborhood was bulldozed to make way for U.I.C.’s brutalist monstrosities that are only just now starting to not look terrible since we’ve gotten used to seeing them for half a century.

This time, though, the land donor is a willing participant.  And we mean “donor” in every sense.  The Trib reports that Related will donate the land to the institutions.

We’re not exactly sure what Related gets out of this deal.  Tax breaks, perhaps? Or perhaps Related will hold on to some of the land in the project, thus guaranteeing demand for housing and office space for the next hundred years or so.  We’ll know more after 10:00am.



from Chicago Architecture

Sizeable Residential Tower Planned for Blossoming Milwaukee Corridor

As the city of Chicago’s various neighborhoods re-make themselves in a more modern image, new residential neighborhoods are blooming in unlikely places.  As Kate Nash’s 20-something garage-punk angstfest  goes, “You can grow flowers from where dirt used to be.”

One of those cracks from where flowers are springing is the Milwaukee Avenue corridor between Wicker Park and downtown.  What used to be the domain of trundling salt trucks and amped-up commuters in BMW’s evolved into a speedway for coffee-fueled hipsters on Schwinns.  And for those in search of the ever-shorter commute, real estate developers are providing housing along the route, turning this shortcut into an actual neighborhood.

Diagram of 734 North Milwaukee

Diagram of 734 North Milwaukee

Over the last few years we’ve shown you various small- and medium-scale projects on or adjacent to Milwaukee Avenue.  Now things are getting seriously serious, with a 23-story tower planned for Milwaukee and Huron, just a couple of blocks north of the Ohio Street feeder ramp.  It’s one of those too-far-to-walk-but-too-close-to-Uber locations.

This is reflected in the fact that 734 North Milwaukee has almost double the number of bicycle parking spaces as it does car parking spaces.  Or on a snowy December morning, it would be possible to cross-country ski all the way to Merchandise Mart.  Or you could put Wonder Bread bags over your socks to keep them dry like when you were a kid and hoof it to the future Tribune Tech Triangle a mere five blocks east.

Future location of 734 North Milwaukee (base via Apple Maps)

Future location of 734 North Milwaukee (base via Apple Maps)

But this isn’t another thoughtless scorched-earth project.  Antunovich Associates is incorporating the existing brick office building into the project, renovating it for continued office use.

One of the gimmes for this development is that the developer will write a check to the Chicago Park District to turn the sliver of weeds and bushes between the Ohio Street Ramps, West Erie Street, and North Milwaukee Street into a proper park.

Future location of the Erie-Carpenter Park.  Erie Carpenters is the name of my Village People tribute band.

Future location of the Erie-Carpenter Park. Erie Carpenters is the name of my Village People tribute band.

  • Address: 1030 West Huron Street
  • Address: 700 North Carpenter Street
  • Address: 701 North Aberdeen Street
  • Address: 728 North Milwaukee Avenue
  • Developer: Tandem Partners
  • Architecture firm: Antunovich and Associates
  • Net site area: 28,327 square feet
  • Floor Area Ratio: Base 5.0 + 2.5 bonus
  • Floors: 23
  • Amenity floors: 5 and 11
  • Maximum height: 266 feet
  • Roof height: 250 feet
  • Residences: 226
  • Zoning: M1-2 Light Industry → DX-5 Downtown Mixed Use → Residential Planned Development
  • Retail space: 2,300 square feet
  • Automobile parking: 97 spaces
  • Bicycle parking: 166 spaces
  • Office lobbies: West Huron Street and North Carpenter Street
  • Residential lobby: Corner of Milwaukee and Carpenter
  • Retail space: Milwaukee Avenue
  • Parking access: via North Aberdeen Street
  • Green roof alert: 10,250 square feet

from Chicago Architecture

Almost 700-Foot Hotel/Residential Tower to Perch on Kennedy’s Shoulder

‘Tis the season for skyscrapers in Chicago, and not surprisingly, the greater Greektown/West Town area isn’t being left behind.  The latest project in the works for the corner of Lake and Halsted is an enormous 58-story tower designed by Perkins Eastman Architects.

The project is the latest effort by the Related empire to shoulder in to the area west of the Loop.  Since coming to town a few years ago, Related Midwest successfully built, or finished several high-profile downtown projects.  And both the location and design of this tower should also impress.  But according to the paperwork, it’s being put up by Related Midwest’s parent company, Related Companies, out of New York via LR Development, which the Wall Street Journal says it bought back in 2000.

Diagram of 723 West Randolph

Diagram of 723 West Randolph

The tower is slender — just 80 feet wide, and right up against the Kennedy Expressway for maximum visibility.  A 2013 plan for a building about half the height for this location was going to deal with the narrow footprint by including a headline-grabbing automated parking facility in the base, eliminating the need to space-eating ramps.

The solution that Related came up with is far more conventional.  It simply bought the land across the street, and will connect its tower via a multi-story bridge to a new parking garage on the south side of West Court Place.  Ta da!

X marks the spot works best when the spot is a circle or a square. But you get the idea.  (base via Apple Maps)

X marks the spot works best when the spot is a circle or a square. But you get the idea. (base via Apple Maps)

To date, Related has not announced what brand hotel will be in its new tower.  But whatever it is, the intent is to let everyone know what it is.  For the first time we can remember, the plans filed with the city for this tower include notions that the top of the building’s facade is reserved as a “Signage location.”  Since City Hall has given up on Chicago’s previous four-decade stretch of branding modesty, expect this to pass unnoticed.

Last year, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Related Midwest was in cahoots with the Equinox gym chain to put up an Equinox-branded hotel in this space.  But that project was a mere 369 feet tall with just 145 hotel rooms and no residences.

Get your marshmallows ready, here’s the firehose:

  • Address: 723 West Randolph Street
  • Address: 121 North Halsted Street
  • Address: 724 West Washington Street
  • Developer: Randolph Halsted LLC
  • For realsies: Related Companies
  • Architecture firm: Perkins Eastman Architects
  • Net site area: 51,680 square feet
  • Floor Area Ratio: Base: 7.0 + 4.5 bonus
  • Maximum height: 680 feet
  • Floors: 58
  • Hotel rooms: 165
  • Residences: 370
  • Affordable housing: 37 units off-site
  • Automobile parking: 150 spaces
  • Loading docks: 2
  • Loading and parking access: via West Court Place
  • Residential lobby: via the alley on the east side of the building.
  • Hotel lobby: via the West Randolph Street service lanes

from Chicago Architecture

19-Story Tower Rejected for Being Too Tall Back as 51-Story Tower

Another developer is going to try to put up a huge skyscraper in Chicago’s Fulton Market District.

Tucker Development and Related Midwest want to replace a surface parking lot with a 51-story residential skyscraper at 156 North Peoria Street.  While the area west of the West Loop has welcomed skyscrapers along the Kennedy Expressway in Greektown, anything taller than a good pole vault immediately brings out a pack of yesteryear’s loft-dwelling NIMBY terriers.

But with the character of West Town rapidly changing from urban pioneers to latter-day hipsters who will pay through the nose for views of the West Loop and the ability to ride fixies to their soft loft workspaces, this is as good a time as any for developers to take a chance building skyward before the sky gets too crowded.

The new tower, designed by New York’s Morris Adjmi Architects, with Stantec acting at local AOR, has something of a complicated footprint.  Instead of being a great big square occupying all the space bounded by North Sangamon Street, West Lake Street, North Peoria Street, and West Randolph Street, it will mostly occupy the middle of the block, leaving mostly the streetscape lined with mostly low-rise heritage architecture.  Much of it was recently rehabbed into restaurants and retail space by Tucker and others.

X marks the spot! Sorry, Dr. Jones. (base via Apple Maps)

X marks the spot! Sorry, Dr. Jones. (base via Apple Maps)

Perhaps this is the key that Tucker thinks will win approval to develop this space.  The north suburban Highland Park firm took a swing at this location last year with a 19-story building called 900 West. The group Neighbors of West Loop objected to its height back then.  We’ll see how it feels about a 270% taller proposal.

Firehose time:

  • Address: 156 North Peoria Street
  • Address: 906 West Randolph Street
  • Address: 151 North Sagnamon Street
  • Address: 913 West Lake Street
  • Developer: 900 Block II Holdings, LLC
  • For Realsies: Tucker Development
  • For Realsies: Related Midwest
  • Architecture firm: Morris Adjmi Architects
  • Architect of record: Stantec
  • Net site area: 67,658 square feet
  • Zoning: C1-1 → DX5-5 → RPD
  • Floor Area Ratio: Base: 5.0 + 3.1 bonus
  • Floors: 51
  • Roof height: 570 feet
  • Podium height: 65 feet
  • Width: 156 feet, two inches
  • Length: 180 feet, six inches
  • Residences: 300
  • Affordable housing: 30 units off-site
  • Automobile parking: 220 spaces
  • Loading docks: 2
  • Garage access: via North Peoria Street
  • Loading dock access: via North Peoria Street
  • Residential lobby access: via North Peoria Street

Diagram of 156 North Peoria
Diagram of 156 North Peoria
Diagram of 156 North Peoria
Diagram of 156 North Peoria
Diagram of 156 North Peoria
Diagram of 156 North Peoria
Diagram of 156 North Peoria
Diagram of 156 North Peoria

from Chicago Architecture

Plans Filed For Soaring Cathedral District Skyscraper, and Holy Name is it Big

For the third time in recent years, an underutilized Chicago Roman Catholic church parking lot will be replaced by a skyscraper.  This time, it’s across the street from Holy Name Cathedral; and as would seem appropriate for the parking lot of the archbishop, this thing is huge.

Diagram of Holy Name Tower

“Seventy-six stories!” is what the headlines have been crying all day since the plans were filed with the city for what we’re going to call Holy Name Tower until we hear differently.  But that doesn’t really give you an idea of how much sky this building will scrape.  We’re talking 1,011 feet and two inches!  That would make it the fifth-tallest building in the city, behind the John Hancock Center, Aon Center, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and the Willis Tower.

The project, designed by Goettsch Partners and Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture for JDL Development,  is actually two towers. There’s also a 45-story, 583-foot-tall building sharing the nine-story podium.

X marks the spot of the future skyscraper that will not be called the Holy Name Tower.  But if it was, would be worth one indulgence. (Base via Apple Maps)

X marks the spot of the future skyscraper that will not be called the Holy Name Tower. But if it was, would be worth one indulgence. (Base via Apple Maps)

What this means is that Holy Name Cathedral, with its prominent nave and asymmetrical belltower will get another building with a prominent mass and asymmetrical tower staring right back at it across the street.

Much to everyone’s relief, the goal in this design was lighter, thinner, taller; not fatter, blockier, podium-ier.    But it remains to be seen if that will appease local NIMBY groups, who will weigh in even if this is not their territory.

It’s been a while since NIMBYs have had a fight this tall on their hands.  The last one was a notion from Symmetry Development for  a 725-foot-tall building on the back side of Holy Name.  And earlier in this century, the 730-foot-tall Canyon Point got smacked down.  It was to be built two blocks away at the location of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago headquarters at 71 East Huron Street.

Hopefully 12 setbacks on the main tower will assuage fears that this building will suck up all of the available light and air.  But the real problem is going to be predicting whose view it will ruin.  42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly is famous for repeating that views are not protected in Chicago, and that your view could be ruined, just like your home ruined someone else’s view.  But this is the Gold Coast, where people wear robes to work not because they’re underwear models, but because they’re judges.  And justices.  And the sort of neighbors that go along with that kind of social scene.  People who are used to getting their way, one way or another.

On a positive note, if you’re used to wandering over to Bella Luna Cafe for a romantic pizza dinner for two after church on Saturday nights, that building is staying.  JDL is building around it. (Shout out to Father Smolka!)

Without further ado, here’s the firehose:

  • Address: 1 West Chicago Avenue
  • Address: 2 West Superior Street
  • Address: 733 North Dearborn Street
  • Address: 728 North State Street
  • Developer: JDL
  • Architecture firm: Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture
  • Architecture firm: Goettsch Partners
  • Floors: 76
  • Height: 1,011 feet, two inches
  • Width: 357 feet, one inch
  • Length: 278 feet
  • Net site area: 96,218 square feet
  • Floor Area Ratio: 12.0 base + 6.4 bonus
  • Residences: 914
  • Affordable housing: JDL will build 91 affordable housing units within two miles
  • Retail space: 200,000 square feet
  • Office space: 45,000 square feet
  • Maximum automobile parking: 659 spaces
  • Parking garage entrance: Off North Dearborn Street
  • Parking garage exit: Off North Dearborn Street
  • Office lobby auto access: Via both North Dearborn Street and West Superior Street
  • 76-story tower residential lobby access: Off West Superior Street
  • 45-story tower residential lobby access: Off West Chicago Avenue
  • Loading docks: Five
  • Green roof alert: 24,875 square feet

Diagram of Holy Name Tower
Diagram of Holy Name Tower
Diagram of Holy Name Tower
Diagram of Holy Name Tower

Diagram of Holy Name Tower
Diagram of Holy Name Tower
Diagram of Holy Name Tower
Diagram of Holy Name Tower
Diagram of Holy Name Tower
Diagram of Holy Name Tower

from Chicago Architecture