Alderman Sends Three-Tower Lakeshore East Plan Back to the Drawing Board

Remember that sultry, silvery sliver of a skyscraper that you lusted after during the summer?  Well, the gales of December have blown in, and you can just forget about her.

Rendering of Towers J and I (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Rendering of Towers J and I (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly has informed Magellan Development and LendLease that their proposed three-tower plan for completing the northeast corner of Lakeshore East is a non-starter.

Mr. Reilly says he received hundreds of comments from his constituents against the proposed development of Lakeshore East parcels I, J, K and L.  Most of Reilly’s objections boil down to design and security.

  • He doesn’t like the grand staircase linking the elevated roadways of Lakeshore East with the Lake Michigan lakefront.  Instead, he’d rather see something less structured, and more park-like.
  • He wants more open space available to the public.  Back in July, we heard similar criticisms about the way the public space was hacked up, instead of contiguous.
  • He wants the towers to be spaced (presumably farther apart), so they better match the density of the existing buildings at Lakeshore East.
  • He wants the developers to put in security cameras tied to the Chicago Police Department’s network, security guards on patrol, and a guard shack.

At first glance, the objections don’t seem that severe.  That is, if it was just one building.  bKL’s plan was for a three-building complex, with one of the towers reaching 80 stories.  Complexity abounds.  But considering the value of the property in question, there is little doubt that something big will be built there eventually.

Rendering of Tower O (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Rendering of Tower O (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

The good news is that Building O, which was unveiled simultaneously with Buildings I, J, and K/L this past July wasn’t mentioned at all.  Perhaps this is a sign that the slot between Aqua and 300 East Randolph Street will be filled in with the planned hotel sandwich, and that end of Lakeshore East will finally be complete.


from Chicago Architecture


Sterling Bay Pencils in Three High Rises and a Movie Theater for West Town

Prolific downtown developer Sterling Bay has unveiled its plans for four parcels near the intersection of Fulton Market and Halsted Street. The outline, detailed at a public meeting Monday, includes three buildings at 19, 20, and 21 stories; plus a 40,000 square foot movie theater with stadium seating.

This answers the lingering question “What’s going to happen to the old Coyne College property?”

The Coyne building at 330 North Green will be razed to make way for the 330-foot-tall, 20-story office building with ground floor retail.

Next door at 360 North Green, we’re looking at a 21-story building, 298 feet tall.

And across the street at 333 North Green, the surface parking lot will be sacrificed to the gods of asphalt and concrete to put up a 19-story, 280-foot-tall office building.

The theater lands at 345 North Morgan Street, next to the Ace Hotel.  At just nine stories, it’s the runt of the litter, but still a respectable size for a cinema with fewer than a dozen screens.  Word from the True West Loop Facebook group is that the design will feature a terrace with skyline views.  That’s a puzzle to be figured out by the boffins at Gensler since the new nine-story building will face its equally new 20 and 21-story sisters.

from Chicago Architecture

Here’s Why the Army May Scuttle Plans to Build a 51-Story Tower in The Loop

A few days before Thanksgiving, the local office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a notice on its web site.  It’s not one of the usual places that one looks for architecture news, so it took a few weeks for the notice to surface.

(We’ve copied as much of the thing as we could below for your convenience.  Full PDF version here.)

Rendering of 110 North Wacker Drive (Courtesy of Howard Hughes Corporation)

Rendering of 110 North Wacker Drive (Courtesy of Howard Hughes Corporation)

What it says is that the army is looking into the proposal to build a 51-story office building at 110 North Wacker Drive.

You may know the building currently in that location as the former headquarters of mega mall magnate GGP.  Or if you’re old school, you may know it as the former headquarters of Morton Salt.

Either way, the army says it may block plans to demolish the old six-story building and put up the 1.35 million square-foot tower that Goettsch Partners designed for Howard Hughes Corporation and Riverside Investment and Development.

Here’s some bullet points to explain why the Corps is getting involved:

  • The Corps believes that demolishing the old GGP/Morton building could violate the Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974.
  • This is because a few months ago, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency decided that the building was eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Why does the State of Illinois think the building is historic?  In a nutshell, because it’s Mid-Century Modern.  And even though there aren’t a lot of real MCM buildings in the Chicagoland area, MCM is still awesome.
  • Why is the army involved at all?  Because the new building needs the army’s permission to dump rainwater into the Chicago River under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.  And no matter what Rahm, or the politicians down in Springfield want you to think, the U.S. Army is ultimately in charge of the Chicago River.  Just like a big reason the interstate highway system was created was to move tanks around the country in an emergency.

On the surface, it appears that if the developers had just kept their water to themselves, none of this would have happened.  But it’s one of those things that makes life so interesting, and keeps the lawyers busy.

What can you do about it?  Well, if you feel strongly one way or the other, then you’ve got to let the Corps know in the next seven days.  You can put your thoughts on paper and mail them to

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Chicago District, Regulatory Branch
Attn: LRC-2017-00583, Michael Murphy
231 South LaSalle Street, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60604-1437

Or, you can e-mail to, which for most people will be the only chance in their lives to send an e-mail message to an “” address.

(Also, a big shout out to the people at the Corps of Engineers, who are obviously fans of this blog since they used a bunch of our pictures in their report. [The purple glass caused by using a camera with a Sony RGBE sensor was the tip-off.])

The General Growth Properties Building, soon to no longer be at 110 North Wacker

The General Growth Properties Building at 110 North Wacker



Section 106 Historic Property Review 110 N. Wacker Drive



Riverside Investment Development 100 N. Riverside Plaza, Suite 2150 Chicago, IL 60606
The Howard Hughes Corporation 13355 Noel Road, Suite 2200 Dallas, TX 75240

Applicants propose to demolish the existing structure on the project site (the General Growth Building, formerly known as the Morton Salt Building) as part of redevelopment of the site. The Chicago District has determined that the proposed demolition of the General Growth Building constitutes an adverse effect under Section 106 of the Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974. This notice is part of the Section 106 process to resolve the adverse effect. The Chicago District is soliciting comments on the proposed action and potential mitigation. A detailed description of this proposed project is provided on page 2 of this notice.

110 North Wacker Drive in the City of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois (SE Quarter of Section 9, Township 39
N, Range 14 E Latitude 41.88378, Longitude -87.63744). See attached location map.
Interested parties are hereby notified that comments on the proposed action and potential mitigation are requested from the public. You are invited to provide your comments by December 14, 2017 on the proposed work, which will become part of the record and will be considered in the decision. This project is being reviewed under Section 106 of the Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 [see 36 CFR 800].

Electronic comments may be sent to the project manager at

Written comments may be mailed to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Chicago District, Regulatory Branch Attn: LRC-2017-00583, Michael Murphy 231 South LaSalle Street, Suite 1500 Chicago, Illinois 60604-1437

It should be noted that ALL comments received by this office (via hard copy or electronic) will only be accepted with the full name and address, and email address, if available, of the individual commenting, and must be received by the close of the public notice period.

Applicants are proposing to redevelop the property at 110 N Wacker Drive in the City of Chicago, currently occupied by the General Growth Building (formerly known as the Morton Salt Building). The proposed development requires the demolition of the current structure on the project site. The Chicago District received a permit application for the construction of a new stormwater outfall structure in the Chicago River to service the new building on the site. The proposed stormwater outfall will require review and potential authorization under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Due to the need for a federal permit for the new development the Chicago District has been determined to be the lead federal agency for this project under the provisions of Section 106.

In August of 2017 the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) determined (see attached) that the General Growth Building was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion C for architecture, making it an historic property under the definitions of Section 106. Subsequently the Chicago District determined that the proposed project will have an adverse effect on a historic property as defined in 36 CFR 800.5 (see attached). The IHPA concurred with this determination (see attached).

The Chicago District is, as the lead federal agency, required under Section 106 to explore options avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse effects to the historic property. Toward that end the District has issued this Public Notice to inform all interested parties of the nature of the historic property, the proposed activity, and proposed mitigation to minimize the adverse effect on the property through public comments on the proposed activity and mitigation and an invitation to participate in the Section 106 process for this site.

The General Growth Building (formerly the Morton Salt Building) at 110 N. Wacker Drive is a five-story, glass-and-steel office building with two penthouse floors. It is prominently located on Wacker Drive and occupies a full-block site between Randolph and Washington streets along the Chicago River (see location map). An example of Mid-Century Modern architecture, the building was erected as the corporate headquarters of the Morton Salt Company, one of the city’s oldest companies and the nation’s largest producer of salt at that time. The $4 million building was completed in 1958 and designed by the architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst and White. Current photographs of the building are attached to this notice.

The Morton Salt Building was erected with reinforced concrete slab construction and the exterior façade includes extensive use of stainless steel cladding at the slab edge spandrel conditions. Its two-story lobby featured stainless steel glazed storefronts, and more than 4,500 yards of fiberglass were used for the beige, orange, green, and yellow window drapes of the building. Plastic paneling, containing mosaic glass and copper wire designs, were used to line the main corridors. Salt industry operations were the theme for photomurals, displays of wood blocks and etchings, and a selection of contemporary paintings on display. The interiors of the building were designed by A. Dudley Kelly.

The building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, a Chicago-based firm with a nationwide clientele that it inherited as the successor to D.H. Burnham & Company. During the 1920s, the Graham firm moved away from its predecessor’s repertoire of Beaux Arts styled bank and commercial buildings to offer designs that included stripped classicism, vertical Gothic, and restrained Art Deco. Such stylistic adaptability was demonstrated in the Civic Opera Building, which is located across Washington Street from the 110 N. Wacker Building, and which exhibits a masterful blend of luxurious classical and Art Deco motifs,

The Morton Salt Company occupied this building for nearly a quarter-century, during which time it expanded into new regions and new products and changed its name several times. By 1990, most of Morton International’s $3 billion in annual revenues came from the sales of airbags and specialty chemicals. In that year, the company relocated to a new skyscraper nearby.

Its former headquarters building remained vacant until 1997, when it was purchased by General Growth Properties, which undertook a complete interior renovation. The building is currently owned by the Howard Hughes Corporation.

The applicants propose to develop a new high-rise office building on the project site (renderings and site plan attached). The proposed development would require the demolition of the General Growth Building as a first step in construction of the proposed building. The applicant has stated that they can not avoid the demolition of the General Growth Building while meeting the site design requirements of the City of Chicago and the structural needs of the new construction. The proposed project design has been reviewed and approved by the City of Chicago and the applicants intend to begin construction as soon as January, 2018 and the major tenants for the new building have been identified.

The Chicago District Reviewed project alternatives and determined that all alternatives that meet the stated goal of constructing a high-rise office building require the demolition of the General Growth Building. Only under a no action alternative could the current structure be spared, but that alternative does not fulfill the applicant’s purpose of constructing a higher density commercial structure.

The applicants have proposed to mitigate for the adverse effect on the General Growth Building by conducting a survey of the structure and documenting it using the Historic Illinois Building Survey (HIBS) methodology under the auspices of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. When completed the HIBS report would be made available to the public and filed with the City of Chicago and the Illinois State Museum.

The Chicago District would like to gather comments on the proposed mitigation plan and any suggestions for alternative or supplemental mitigation. The District would like feedback from the public as to the adequacy of the proposed mitigation in kind and quantity and is looking for any potential mitigation measures that are proportionate to the proposed impact and can be implemented over a reasonable time frame and cost.

Section 106 provides for the implementation of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for mitigation of adverse effects to historic properties. The Chicago District will curate a list of proposed mitigation options submitted as part of this public notice process to be included in a draft Memorandum of Agreement. This draft MOA will be presented to a meeting of signatory and consulting parties on December 15, 2017. This goal of this meeting will be to write a final MOA to be implemented by the applicant as mitigation for the adverse impacts to the General Growth Building.

The signatory parties to the Section 106 MOA are anticipated to be the Chicago District, IHPA and the applicants. Consulting parties to the MOA have not yet been determined. If you would like to be a consulting party to this MOA please let the District know who you are and why you should be included as a consulting party to this Section 106 MOA. Please submit your request by email to The Draft MOA Meeting will be held in downtown Chicago on December 15, 2017

It should be noted that materials submitted as part of the permit application become part of the public record and are thus available to the general public under the procedures of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Individuals may submit a written request to obtain materials under FOIA or make an appointment to view the project file at the Chicago District Corps of Engineers Office of Counsel.

Interested parties wishing to comment on the proposed activity must do so in writing no later than December 14, 2017. It is presumed that all parties receiving this notice will wish to respond to this public notice; therefore, a lack of response will be interpreted as meaning that there is no objection to the project as described.

This public notice is not a paid advertisement and is for public information only. Issuance of this notice does not imply Corps of Engineers endorsement of the project as described.

If you have any questions, please contact Michael Murphy of my staff by telephone at (312) 846- 5538, or email at It should be noted that ALL comments received by this office (via hard copy or electronic) will only be accepted with the full name and address of the individual commenting.

Digitally signed by CHERNICH.KATHLEEN.G.123036 5616
DN: c=US, o=U.S. Government, ou=DoD, ou=PKI, ou=USA, cn=CHERNICH.KATHLEEN.G.123 0365616
Date: 2017.11.21 15:12:31 -06’00’
Kathleen G. Chernich Chief, East Section Regulatory Branch


Technical Services Division Regulatory Branch LRC-2017-583

October 30, 2017


SUBJECT: Construction in Waters of the United States at 110 North Wacker Drive on the South Branch Chicago River between Randolph Street and Washington Street in the Chicago River Watershed of the City of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois (SE Quarter of Sec. 9, Twp. 39N, Rng. 14E; 41.88378, -87.63744)

Rachel Leibowitz
Illinois State Historic Preservation Office
Illinois Department of Natural Resources One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702

Dear Ms. Leibowitz:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District (District) has received an application from Riverside Investment Development (Applicant) for the construction of a stormwater outlet structure in the South Branch Chicago River as part of the construction of a new building at 110 North Wacker Drive in the City of Chicago, as described above (see also the attached location map). This project has been assigned Chicago District project number LRC- 2017-583, all future correspondence with the District concerning this project must include this project number.

The District has determined that, for purposes of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act [see 36 CFR 800. 3(a) and 800.16(y)], the Federal “undertaking” which has the potential to cause effects on historic properties is limited to the issuance of a Department of the Army authorization for project activities within the permit area. Therefore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District will be the lead federal agency for the project.

Additionally, the District has determined that the relevant permit area for the proposed project will include the entire project site for issuance of a Department of the Army authorization. Similarly, as it pertains to Section 106, the Area of Potential Effect (APE) for direct effects, is the tract upon which the undertaking will occur, and the APE for indirect effects (visual) is 1,000′ North/South along the Chicago River and along North Wacker Drive.

The District is in receipt of a letter from your office dated August 24, 2017 informing the applicant that the existing structure on the project site (the General Growth Building) has been determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion C for architecture. Upon receipt of your letter, the District began a dialogue with the applicant and their agent (V3 Companies, Inc.) about the proposed project, particularly concerning the necessity to demolish the existing structure on the project site. The District is in acceptance of the applicant’s analysis stating that the only practicable alternative available to complete the proposed project requires the demolition of the existing structure on the project site.

Based on the factors outlined above, it is the District’s determination that the proposed project will have an adverse effect on a historic property as defined in 36 CFR 800.5. The District request the concurrence of the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office with this determination and invites your office to:

1. Identify any other consulting parties as per 36 CFR 800.3(f);

2. Comment as per 36 CFR 800.2(d)(3) on the District’s plan to involve the public by utilizing the District’s normal procedures for public involvement under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Department of the Army permitting process; and

3. Agree in the District’ decision that it is appropriate to address multiple steps in 36 CFR 800.3-800.6 as provided at 36 CFR 800.3(g).

Once a list of potential consulting parties (including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and potentially affected private citizens) has been identified, it is the District’s intention to initiate the public notice process that includes those parties, to solicit comments to be used in drafting a Memorandum of Agreement between consulting parties and to determine suitable mitigation. Notice will also be given to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as required under 36 CFR 800.6(a)(1). It is our intent to pursue this process diligently to meet our obligations under Federal law and accommodate the applicants desired project time frame as best we can.
If you have any questions, please contact Michael Murphy of my staff by telephone at (312) 846-5538, or email at

Kathleen G. Chernich Chief, East Section Regulatory Branch
Copy Furnished

from Chicago Architecture

Neighbors Say They Were Sandbagged by Beach Boardwalk Idea

Lovers in Chicago may soon have another choice for taking a romantic boardwalk stroll in the moonlight.  The Chicago Park District is floating an idea for a proper boardwalk at North Avenue Beach.

North Avenue Beach (via Apple Maps)

North Avenue Beach (via Apple Maps)

Until now, the epicenter of wood-over-water hand-holding was Navy Pier.  But that’s so crowded, it’s hard to call it romantic most nights unless the moon is really really full.  The North Avenue Beach boardwalk is part of a larger project intended to improve the flow of both people and cars.  The Trib broke the news.

The proposal also includes better transit and rideshare access, outdoor showers, and public seating areas.

The Chicago Park District is going the public-private route to fund the project, much as it did with the Argo Tea house at Connors Park in the Gold Coast.  As usual, park advocates and neighborhood groups say they were caught off guard by the idea, which became public as part of the process for finding new concessionaires for the beach.  Bids for that were due last week.

The Park District says it’s too early in the process to discuss details of the plan.  It hopes to have the boardwalk ready for the 2020 beach season.

from Chicago Architecture

Love It While You Can: Little Hope Left For The Woodruff Arcade Building

Even though it’s not downtown, or downtown-adjacent, Edgewater is shaping up to be one of Chicago’s hottest neighborhoods.  New shops and infrastructure are going in, and it’s even made a recent appearance on HGTV’s House Hunters program.

But as the new comes in, the old goes out, and that means the Woodruff Arcade Building (6361 North Broadway) is getting the old heave-ho.

Woodruff Arcade Building (via Apple Maps)

Woodruff Arcade Building (via Apple Maps)

The Woodruff Arcade is historic, but not historic enough to be saved.  From the sidewalk the 1923 building designed by Herbert Green is not much to look at.  But its form, with a central atrium surrounded by retail space, is one of a dwindling number of such buildings left in America.

Edgeville Buzz reports that 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman believes that because there is already a proposal to redevelop the property, the chances of getting it landmarked at this late date are very low.

Developers Borekci Real Estate and Algonquin Ventures Real Estate plan to replace the well-worn building with a seven-story residential block featuring ground-floor retail space.

As a point of interest, Borekci Real Estate is headquartered in Turkey, with its local office in Northbrook.

from Chicago Architecture

Video: Proposed Tribune Mega-Project Turned Into Animated Eye Candy

If you’ve been salivating over the prospect of Tribune Media (soon to be Sinclair Broadcasting) pulling off its proposed $700 million “technology campus” along the Chicago River, then grab another napkin.

A new video has hit YouTube showing what the Trib and Riverside Investment’s 700 at the River District project could look like.

Screen grab from the 700 at the River District promotional video (via YouTube)

Screen grab from the 700 at the River District promotional video (via YouTube)

The animation delivers quite a visual punch, giving viewers a fighting chance at understanding the project’s scale and the way it fits in with the rest of the city.  There’s little new information, other than an illustration showing a private road from the development to Metra’s Ogilvie Transportation Center; and a prediction that a water taxi run to Union Station would take 12 minutes.

Our advice is don’t even try to read the text or listen to the music.  The animation was created by a Hungarian company, so it’s accompanied by the kind of euro-corporate synth noise that tends to come out of eastern European animation houses, and the captions are almost-but-not-quite correct grammar.  But then, who are we to complain? Their English is better than our Hungarian.

Video follows:

from Chicago Architecture

Alderman Stalls One Chicago Square Towers

Second Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins has asked that the $700 million One Chicago Square project be scotched from the agenda for the Chicago Plan Commission’s December 21st meeting.  At that meeting, the commissioners could have approved the project, which would have sent it sailing through the rest of city council and on to the construction phase.

Rendering of One Chicago Square

Rendering of One Chicago Square

Citing intense interest, and the sheer size of the project, which would build 76-story and 45-story residential towers atop a mixed-use podium, Mr Hopkins wants more time to review public input.  The $700 million proposal would replace the surface parking lot across the street from Holy Name Cathedral at the corner of State Street and Chicago Avenue.

While a public meeting about the proposal, designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architects and Goettsch Partners for JDL Development, saw remarkably little opposition, in a letter to constituents, Hopkins writes that there are concerns about traffic and congestion at the busy corner of the Gold Coast.

I’ve tasked engineers at the City’s Department of Transportation and Chicago Transit Authority, as well as the developer’s traffic engineering team to provide a detailed analysis of the project’s influence on traffic, coupled with solutions to improve conditions in an already congested area.

The developer has given the city a traffic plan which shows loading docks on North Dearborn Street, and two-way vehicular access to the parking garage and valet service from both Dearborn and West Superior Streets.

The alderman says that traffic is already bad at that location, and something should be done to remedy the situation, whether One Chicago Square is built, or not.


from Chicago Architecture