Very First Indication That the Holy Name Tower is On Its Way

We’ve been waiting for years for Holy Name Parish to do something tall and skyscraper-like with the surface parking lot it maintains across the street from its cathedral at 735 North State Street.  We thought it was most likely to come a few years ago when the cathedral suffered a series of unfortunate water and fire incidents with its roof.  But it wasn’t until just this past April that Crain’s Chicago Business broke the news that JDL’s Jim Letchinger put $110 million into a basket for the property on the southwest corner of Chicago Avenue and State Street.

Now we have our first concrete evidence that things are moving forward at the site.

Pre-construction work on the Holy Name Tower, which is a name we invented because we've got to call this something (Courtesy of Near North Spy Brian)

Pre-construction work on the Holy Name Tower, which is a name we invented because we’ve got to call this something (Courtesy of Near North Spy Brian)

Near North Spy Brain slipped a photograph into our tip box showing a soil sampling rig all set up at the current parking lot/future skyscraper-palooza.  Exactly what it’s doing there is, of course, anyone’s guess.  It could be sampling the soil so that architects can figure out how tall they can build.  Or it could be sampling the soil to figure out what kind of foundations are needed for an already-designed building.

But regardless, this is the first sign that something big this way comes.  So enjoy the evening sun through Holy Name’s rose window while you still can.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2017/07/20/very-first-indication-that-the-holy-name-tower-is-on-its-way/

Here’s a Building Permit You Don’t See in Chicago Very Often

The newest million-dollar project to get the stamp of approval from Chicago City Hall isn’t a two-flat walk-up in Wrigleyville, or a condo renovation in the Gold Coast.  It’s something else entirely.

NEW CONSTRUCTION. HORSE RIDING ARENA. ONE STORY, 15,800SF PRE-ENGINEERED METAL BUILDING. NO HEATING/COOLING, NO FINISHED FLOOR.

The last horse riding arena in downtown Chicago was demolished in 2009.  It was the 1929 Chicago Riding Club building, designed by Rebori, Wentworth, Dewey & McCormick.  Most people knew it by its last vocation: The home of CBS Radio and Television’s Chicago operations.

Not an MS Paint depiction of the new horse arena

Not an MS Paint depiction of the new horse arena

This new riding arena is being built at 3857 West 111th Street.  Most people know it by its current vocation: The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

While the conventional wisdom is that the only farming activity in Chicago is in hipster Bridgeport warehouses, or at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  But as long as you and I (and especially I) keep eating, we’re going to need people like the kids who graduate from this school in the city’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood.

It’s good that the building now has a construction permit, considering that Mayor Rahm Emanuel participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for it more than three months ago.

The high school out standing in its field. (That joke never gets old. Via Apple Maps)

The high school out standing in its field. (That joke never gets old. Via Apple Maps)

The arena designed by River North’s Woodhouse Tinucci Architects will be 25-feet tall, with two rings inside.  But this is a working structure, so there won’t be any grandstands.  You’ll have to get your rodeo fix elsewhere.

The total cost of the project is about $1.1 million.  $100,000 of that came from the school winning an online contest sponsored by… wait for it… Farmers Insurance.  The rest came from internal cost-saving measures over several years, according to DNAInfo Chicago.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2017/07/19/heres-a-building-permit-you-dont-see-in-chicago-very-often/

West Town Hotel Proposal Goes Under the Microscope

People who live in West Town will get a chance to sound off on a plan to build a 19-story hotel across the street from McDonald’s new corporate headquarters.

Diagram of 113 North May

Diagram of 113 North May

The proposal from Sterling Bay will be vetted publicly at a meeting organized by 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. tonight at 6:00pm at Catalyst Ranch (656 West Randolph Street).

The hotel was designed by the Loop’s Eckenhoff Saunders Architects.  You may remember that firm from such hits as the Bank of America tower in Dallas, and the Dana Hotel on State Street.

The area has seen a major beneficiary of both the recent influx of corporate headquarters into the greater West Loop area, and the flood of new residents into downtown Chicago.  But along with that growth has come growing pains, mainly voiced by long-time residents who remember the area as a Bohemian enclave of urban pioneers, artists, and other eccentrics living in and among brick warehouses and abattoirs.

The nearby West Loop is known for having the fiercest NIMBYs in Chicago, but their ferocity has become tempered by the loss of strength in numbers.  We’ll find out tonight if they can be out-shouted by the new economy workers who are the rising demographic in the neighborhood.

Until then, open wide for the firehose.

  • Address: 101 North May Street
  • Address: 113 North May Street
  • Address: 118 North Aberdeen Avenue
  • Address: 1112 West Washington Street
  • Developer: 113 May, LLC
  • For realsies: Sterling Bay
  • Architecture firm: Eckenhoff Saunders Architects
  • Net site area: 41,701 square feet
  • Floors: 19
  • Maximum height: 199 feet
  • Rood height: 187 feet, 10 inches
  • Width: 100 feet, three inches
  • Length: 126 feet, one inch
  • Floor area ratio: 5.0
  • Zoning: DX-3 → DX-5 → Business PD
  • Automobile parking spaces: 41
  • Loading docks: 1
  • Retail space: 5,184 square feet
  • Green roof alert: 3,587 square feet

Diagram of 113 North May
Diagram of 113 North May
Diagram of 113 North May
Diagram of 113 North May
Diagram of 113 North May
Diagram of 113 North May
Diagram of 113 North May
Diagram of 113 North May

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2017/07/18/west-town-hotel-proposal-goes-under-the-microscope/

South Loop’s Newest Hotel Gets The Green

Rendering of 1101 South Wabash (via SB Yen Management Group)

Rendering of 1101 South Wabash (via SB Yen Management Group)

The newest hotel project to plant roots in Chicago’s South Loop has been given the green light to go full-throttle.

1101 South Wabash Avenue was once the home of one of those weird one-story, pee-stained, hoboriffic parking garages leftover from yesteryear that still dot downtown Chicago.  Demolition of that garage was completed in February of 2016, and then in December of that year, ground was broken on a new Hilton Homewood Suites, designed by Near North’s Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture for west suburban SB Yen Management Group.

A few days ago, the project was given city approval to rise to its full 30-story height, which is good because otherwise in 2018 the 30th-floor fitness center would just be hovering there in the air, all awkward and stuff.

NEW CONSTRUCTION OF 30 – STORY MIXED-USE BUILDING WITH GROUND FLOOR RETAIL, PARKING ON LEVELS 1 THROUGH 7, 8TH & 30TH FLOOR AMENITIES AND 196 DWELLING UNITS ON LEVELS 9-29.FOUNDATION ISSUED ON 100683627.

In between the fitness center and the lobby will be seven floors of parking, 196 standard hotel rooms on floors nine through 23, and another 85 corporate suites on floors 24 through 29.

The general contractor on this project is Lendlease, which amusingly listed “hot tub” as one of the eighth floor business center amenities.  I guess it all depends on what business you’re in.

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2017/07/18/south-loops-newest-hotel-gets-the-green/

Chicago’s Vista Tower Loses Its 83rd Floor So People Won’t be “Afraid for Their Safety”

It’s not uncommon for a major construction project to change after it’s already started.  Look at Wolf Point West, which had its 43rd and 45th floor setbacks moved to the 45th and 46th floors, creating two more residences.  Or the Skinner West Elementary School addition which is gaining a floor, long after just three were approved by the city.

In the case of Jeanne Gang’s spectacular 95-story Vista Tower going up at 363 East Wacker Drive, even a minor change is of major interest.  So you know our Spidey Sense went on red alert when we heard that the 83rd floor is going to be sacrificed in the name of health and safety.

Location of the Vista Tower blow-through floor

Location of the Vista Tower blow-through floor

It’s a victim of the Windy City’s… wind.  The 83rd floor is going to become a two-story high “void space” known as a blow-through floor that will “disrupt and reduce the wind effects on the building.”  Visually, it’s right about where the top segment of the tallest tower bows most outward.

Rendering of the Vista Tower blow-through floor

Rendering of the Vista Tower blow-through floor

According to city documents, the blow-through floor won’t just lessen the force of wind at the 83rd floor.  “The interruption of the regular wind flow along the building will serve to disrupt the wind pressure for many stories above and below the blow-through level.”

And lest you think that we’re hyping up the whole “safety” angle to generate clicks — the way petty much every internet publication does these days — those are the words of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, not ours:

Prior to the addition of the blow-through floor, acceleration limits, as defined by the International Organization for Standardization, were predicted to be significantly exceeded, indicating performance that would be unacceptable.  According to a letter from Magnusson Klemencic Structural and Civil Engineers, this would result in building occupants feeling ill and possibly afraid for their safety.

That’s in a letter from the city to the lawyers for the project, giving the green light for the blow-through floor, as well as reducing the complexity of the glass in some other parts of the skyscraper.  42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly was notified, and gave it the nod.

The hue and cry you hear in the distance is the sound of several hundred architecture students on 35th street shouting, “What about mass dampers?”

That was considered.  Tuned Liquid Sloshing Dampers, to be exact.  And wind tunnel tests show that the blow-through floor is going to need help from multiple TLSDs to keep Vista rock steady.

What about simply changing the design of the building?  Surprisingly, that was considered, too.  But the changes didn’t mitigate the wind load enough to make it worthwhile.  Though, that’s not to say that Vista isn’t changing.

Paint It Black album cover

“I see a dead floor, and I want to paint it black” — Random T. Bureaucrat

The rolling stones at city hall see the dead floor and they want to paint it black.  All of it.  The walls, the core, the ceiling, slow pigeons — everything in the double-height 83rd floor will be black. And, by law, the space cannot be illuminated.  So when Vista twinkles in the Chicago skyline at night, she will have a black choker across her neck.

And she’s also getting a little taller.  Maximum height is now 1,198 feet, five inches above the Chicago City Datum — just 19 inches short of the maximum allowed by city ordinance.

The height of the ceiling on the highest occupied floor gains a little over seven feet, moving to 1,171 feet, 11 inches.

 

Diagram of the Vista Tower
Diagram of the Vista Tower
Diagram of the Vista Tower
Diagram of the Vista Tower

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2017/07/17/chicagos-vista-tower-loses-its-83rd-floor-so-people-wont-be-afraid-for-their-safety/

Lincoln Common Getting Drilled, Losing Retail

No one ever said that construction was a quiet trade.  And having spent too many years living next door to Chicago skyscrapers being constructed, I can say the king of all noisemakers is the caisson drill (no, not that caisson drill).

People in Lincoln Park are going to get an earful starting this week, as the big Lincoln Commons project starts caisson work on the main triangle of what used to be the Children’s Memorial Hospital campus.

Rendering of the Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment (Courtesy of McCaffery Interests)

Rendering of The Lincoln Common (Courtesy of McCaffery Interests)

Once caisson work on the triangle is done, then it’s over to Building D for more drill-a-palooza action.

According to Hines and McCaffery Interests, it should all wrap up before the end of August.

Building D was originally supposed to be a complete five stories of retail space.  But a few months ago the developers asked, and were granted, city permission to change it to retail on the ground floor, and four stories of offices up top.

2016: Building B is retail. March, 2017: Building B is gone.

2016: Building B is retail. March, 2017: Building B is gone.

Which is a better fate than poor Building B.  This past March the 10,000 square foot retail structure found itself out of a job when it was completely erased from the Lincoln Common plans and replaced with a landscaped courtyard.  The artwork that was supposed to be on Building B will instead be a monument in a garden.

 

 

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2017/07/17/lincoln-common-getting-drilled-losing-retail/

River North’s Newest Public Park Opens at Exhibit on Superior

As downtown Chicago ads more and more residents, the ratio of people to greenspace grows increasingly lopsided.  That’s part of the reason so many people were happy to see River North’s newest public park open late last week.

The park is on the north side of Exhibit on Superior (165 West Superior Street), the 35-story residential tower designed by the Loop’s bKL Architecture for Magellan Development and Mac Management.  The tower opened earlier this year sporting 298 homes and 109 parking spaces.  It’s also supposed to be one of the downtown Chicago buildings with the fewest obstructed views.

Who doesn't love oversized novelty scissors? (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Who doesn’t love oversized novelty scissors? (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

The park, designed by Kettlecamp & Kettlecamp, came to fruition at least partially through the prodding of 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, who was on hand to witness the giant ceremonial novelty scissors slice through the lime green celebratory banner.

Pål Svensson (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Pål Svensson (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Also there was Pål Svensson, the Swedish sculptor of the park’s focal point, Turning Triangle.  Mr. Svensson has produced dozens of pieces of public art since the 80’s and many are on display from mountain tops to freeway tunnels, mostly in Europe.

Another artist present was Jeremy Gentry, who in addition to being a musician, is actually an amenity at Exhibit, along with the fire pits and quartz countertops.  Unlike the countertops, Mr. Gentry makes pleasant music in the building’s public spaces for the benefit of the building’s residents.  The last time we saw an “artist in residence” as a building amenity, it was in Houston where an elderly woman filled the hallways with giant oil paintings of her feet, alligators, and her feet chasing alligators.  Mr. Gentry is a much better amenity.

bKL principal Tom Kerwin and sculptor Pål Svensson (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

bKL principal Tom Kerwin and sculptor Pål Svensson (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

720 North LaSalle rendering courtesy of bKL Architecture

720 North LaSalle rendering (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

from Chicago Architecture https://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2017/07/17/river-norths-newest-public-park-opens-at-exhibit-on-superior/