Construction Crews Pounding Sand at Wolf Point East

Word on the street is that living near Wolf Point has gone from the dirge of caisson drilling to the relentless pounding of sheet piling being pounded relentlessly.

Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)

Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)

Loop Spy Chris sent in the photograph above showing the ongoing pounding underway at 313 West Wolf Point Plaza.  But we’re told that mere pictures can’t capture the noise and vibrations rippling through the neighborhood.  Such is life in the big city.

Before you know it, that location will be the home of Pelli Clarke Pelli’s new 60-story residential tower called Wolf Point East.  It, along with bKL’s Wolf Point West will then eventually frame Wolf Point South, the 950-foot-tall star of this show.

Until that show gets on the road, enjoy the construction gallery below.  You can almost feel the percussive violence in the air.

Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)
Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)
Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)
Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)
Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)
Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)
Wolf Point East under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Chris)

Rendering of Wolf Point East (Courtesy of Hines)

Rendering of Wolf Point East (Courtesy of Hines)

from Chicago Architecture


Bell Rings For New South Loop Elementary School

For years, Chicago’s downtown parents have lobbied for more schools in the heart of the city.  And the recent influx of hipsters, empty-nesters, and extended families has made the demand even greater.

Rendering of the new South Loop Elementary School (via Chicago Public Building Commission)

Rendering of the new South Loop Elementary School (via Chicago Public Building Commission)

Those anxious parents should get a smidgeon of relief in a little over a year now that City Hall has issued permits for the construction of a new South Loop Elementary School:


We first told you that the school was coming in May of last year after bean spillage by WBEZ radio.

The new school will be located on the western half of the block bounded by West 16th Street, South State Street, West 17th Street, and South Dearborn Street.  The eastern half of the block is Columbia College’s Media Production Center, and Douglas Truck Parts.  Across the street is the Chicago Police Department district headquarters.

The school was designed by SMNG A in River North.  It will have 46 classrooms, a music room, a gym, a library, a cafeteria, and a multi-purpose room.  Recess will be on the roof, which is de-regeur in downtown Chicago these days, and will give the kids something to talk about when they go off to college.  (“Man, my school was so hood we had recess in a cage on the roof!”)

The city wants the new school to be “substantially completed” by the end of November, 2018.

  • Address: 1601 South Dearborn Street
  • Developer: Chicago Public Schools
  • Floors: Four
  • Size: 120,000 square feet
  • Capacity: 1,200 students

Classroom breakdown

  • 32 ordinary classrooms
  • 4 kindergarten classrooms
  • 3 pull-out classrooms
  • 3 science classrooms
  • 2 computer classrooms
  • 2 art classrooms
Diagram of the new South Loop Elementary School

Diagram of the new South Loop Elementary School

from Chicago Architecture

Viceroy Hotel Opens Its Doors in Chicago’s Gold Coast

The Hotel Cedar is dead, long live the Viceroy.

Word on the street is that opening weekend was busy at the Viceroy Hotel (1112 North State Street), the location of the former Hotel Cedar.

For years developers tried to turn the run-down brick pile into a chic new place for well-heeled tourists and locals to lay their heads, but faced opposition from NIMBY groups, and also neighbors with legitimate concerns about traffic and parking.

A change in the city’s political climate later, and developer Convexity Properties managed to accomplish what previous companies couldn’t.  Soon, demolition crews were dismantling Cedar’s lower facade, storing it carefully away, and then pasting it onto the new Goettsch Partners-designed 18-story glass tower.

The new hotel sports 180 guest rooms, a modicum of meeting space, a rooftop bar and pool, and “a sweeping panorama of Great Lake views,” which sounds like the hotel’s web site was outsourced to a country where they’ve never heard of Lake Michigan.

Press release follows.

Rendering of the Viceroy Hotel (Courtesy of Viceroy Hotel Group)

Rendering of the Viceroy Hotel (Courtesy of Viceroy Hotel Group)


CHICAGO — Viceroy Hotel Group is pleased to announce that Viceroy Chicago, the latest addition to the Viceroy Icon Collection and the brand’s first property in the Midwest, opens its doors to locals and guests this Friday, September 1, 2017. Taking center stage in the heart of the vibrant Gold Coast neighborhood, the 180-room modern luxury hotel is located on the site of the former historic Cedar Hotel and features culinary concepts from Chicago’s celebrated Boka Restaurant Group.

Positioned at the intersection of Cedar and State Streets, this urban resort rises a magnificent 18-stories and is home to the neighborhood’s first rooftop pool. This desirable rooftop space, in addition to floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the hotel, affords guests sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the cityscape, offering a unique vantage point of Chicago to inspire curiosity and exploration. An enviable location, Viceroy Chicago is steps away from top Chicago attractions including Lake Michigan, the Magnificent Mile, and some of the city’s favorite high-end storefronts and boutiques on Oak Street.

“A hub for culture, cuisine, and style, Chicago is the ideal location to start Viceroy Hotel Group’s journey into the Midwest,” said Bill Walshe, CEO of Viceroy Hotel Group. “We’re proud to make our Chicago debut in partnership with hotel owner Convexity Properties, with whom we share a passion for creating distinct, memorable experiences, and who are a team with a unique knowledge of this incredible city.”

Adds David Nelson, Head of Real Estate at Convexity Properties: “The unveiling of Viceroy Chicago, with its unique programming, design and culinary experiences, is an exciting moment for Convexity Properties, Viceroy Hotel Group, Boka Restaurant Group and this amazing city we call home. We are grateful for the collaborative effort of the City of Chicago officials, local aldermen, and neighborhood groups that helped bring this project to life.”

Purposeful Programming with a Local Touch

With community partnerships being a cornerstone of the hotel experience, the hotel offers its guests wellness and fashion programming provided by locally based businesses including Chill Chicago, a modern meditation studio; CorePower Yoga, a nationally-recognized yoga provider; and FELT, an upscale women’s clothing boutique located in Chicago’s Logan Square.

In partnership with Chill Chicago, Viceroy Chicago presents a number of ways for guests to remain mindful while traveling including “Moving Meditation,” an airport pick-up service that features a pre-recorded meditation session to enjoy while en route to the hotel, and “Chill Hour,” a weekly, on-site meditation class. Guests are also provided with meditation tips in-room. Beginning in September, the hotel will host weekly yoga classes from CorePower, which will be open to guests and locals alike.

Always ahead of the trend, Viceroy Chicago has partnered with local women’s clothing boutique FELT to provide guests with individualized styling sessions and private shopping experiences. The fashion-forward package includes an advance consultation with a FELT stylist, an in-room styling and shopping session, as well as a custom-tailor session as needed.

Energetic, Engaging Design

Thoughtfully curated design, art, style and culture are infused into the hotel to create an authentic and inspired experience and maintain a distinct sense of place for guests eager to explore the vivacious Chicago landscape. To bring this vision to life, Viceroy Hotel Group worked in collaboration with Chicago-based Convexity Properties, Todd-Avery Lenahan of award-winning hospitality design firm TAL Studio, The Gettys Group procurement team, and leading architect Goettsch Partners. In homage to its history, Viceroy Chicago proudly embraces the Cedar Hotel’s original brick and terracotta façade, first designed by architects Rissman and Hirschfield.

Viceroy Chicago’s design is inspired by the Flâneur, a French literary figure known for its free spirit and eye for exploration. International luxury hotel and resort designer Todd-Avery Lenahan used this spirited character as a guide to create surprise-and-delight moments throughout the hotel, piquing guest curiosity and offering the opportunity for discovery. The hotel’s public spaces feature bold art fixtures, including a 30-foot teal Poem Wall towering over the lobby living room and inscribed with quotes from French poet Marcel Proust. Guestrooms feature a distinct headboard-wall, a digital reproduction of an original work produced by London artist Tim Modus. The display is inspired by the architectural elements and sculptural forms of the mid-century, and serves as a nod to Chicago’s storied architectural history. Guestrooms also host enlarged, luxurious bathrooms and closets, and a selection of suites offer expansive terraces with incredible views of the cityscape and Lake Michigan.

Celebrated Culinary Talent Coupled with Skyline Views

Viceroy Chicago is also home to the highly anticipated restaurant Somerset, helmed by James BeardAward finalist Lee Wolen of Chicago-based Boka Restaurant Group. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the hotel and hosts a large landscaped and tree-lined patio. Wolen’s curated menu features flavor-forward and approachable dishes and highlights the best in seasonal, local ingredients. In addition to making all of the pastries and breads in-house daily, James Beard nominated pastry chef Meg Galus serves seasonal desserts, specialty sundaes, parfaits and homemade Somerset chocolate bars.

Chef Wolen also oversees the culinary offerings for the hotel’s year-round rooftop lounge Devereaux, as well in-room dining, catering and events. In addition, the hotel has 3,600 square feet of meeting and event space, including the 2,200-square-foot Cedar Ballroom and adjoining outdoor Lakeview Terrace.

Viceroy Chicago guest amenities include Natura Bissé and ROIL bath and salon products in luxurious bathroom settings, private bars with local and artisanal offerings, complimentary Wi-Fi access, and an expansive fitness center featuring Technogym equipment with panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the Gold Coast neighborhood.

To celebrate the hotel’s opening, Viceroy Chicago is offering a limited time introductory Stay Curious package of 25% savings on two-night stays between September 1, 2017 and December 9, 2017. To inquire or make a reservation, please visit the website and follow the hotel on Facebook and Instagram for updates.


Viceroy Hotel Group inspires travelers with one-of-a-kind authentic lifestyle experiences that bring together provocative design and intuitive service in sought-after locations. A leader in modern luxury, Viceroy’s vibe-led hospitality is guided by the brand promise “Remember to Live,” an affirmation to create lifelong memories for each and every guest. Viceroy destinations are segmented into three distinct portfolio tiers to help travelers find exactly the kind of experience they’re looking for. The Viceroy Icon Collection properties include epic hotels and resorts in Chicago, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beverly Hills, Riviera Maya, Snowmass, and St. Lucia, with forthcoming openings in Algarve, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Panama, Cartagena, and Vietnam. The Viceroy Lifestyle Series hotels and resorts are found in attitude-led destinations including New York and Santa Monica, with a forthcoming opening in Serbia. The Urban Retreat Collection properties in San Francisco and New York have an independent spirit and bold, eccentric personalities. Viceroy Hotel Group is a member of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) DISCOVERY, a unique loyalty program offering exclusive benefits and experiences to its members at over 550 hotels around the world. For more information, visit Follow Viceroy Hotel Group at and on Instagram and Twitter @viceroyhotels.

from Chicago Architecture

New CTA Washington/Wabash Station Gets Raves on Debut Weekend

The Chicago Transit Authority’s new Washington/Wabash L Station racked up oodles of likes, plus one’s, and shares over its inaugural weekend.  And that was in real life.  Social media folk liked it, too.

CTA Washington/Wabash station (via Office of the Mayor of Chicago)

CTA Washington/Wabash station (via Office of the Mayor of Chicago)

In its first few hours of operation, reactions from the crowds of travelers eager to get a whiff of that new train station smell ranged from a star-struck “Oh, shiny!” to a fully suburban “Awesome!”  On the second day, opinions were more temperate — ranging from “Wait, is this my stop?” to “Are you going to finish that sandwich?”  Which in the language of CTA riders is a serious compliment.

The new Washington/Wabash Station serves Brown, Purple, Orange, Green, and Pink line trains transiting the east Loop.  It replaces the worn out Madison/Wabash and Randolph/Wabash stations.

The Madison station was torn down two years ago.  Randolph/Washington closed at 2:30am this past Sunday.  It was a favorite haunt for downtown raccoons who could sometimes be seen begging for scraps from passengers. A video of such a talented raccoon was among the very first articles we published 14 years ago.

Eavesdropping on the passenger chatter, complaints seemed few, and confined mostly to mommy bloggers lamenting that they couldn’t get a good picture of the station for their Instagram feeds because there were so many people taking good pictures of the station for their Instagram feeds.

CTA Washington/Wabash station (via Office of the Mayor of Chicago)

CTA Washington/Wabash station (via Office of the Mayor of Chicago)


Mayor Rahm Emanuel wielded the oversized novelty scissors at roughly 11am Thursday marking the ceremonial opening of the $75 million station designed by Canadian architecture firm exp.

At its core, the station is the standard street/mezzanine/platform arrangement in use everywhere from Library-State/Van Buren to Garfield and beyond.  The highlight of the project is a pair of undulating canopies that keep the rain and snow off of commuters while simultaneously looking like… a harp?  A picket fence? A whale carcass?  You can decide for yourself.  It’s certainly better than the previous shelter, which was mostly layers of yellowed paint covering rust bubbles.

This is the fourth new CTA station opened in the last few years, but the first in 20 years on the Loop.  It’s expected to serve an average of 13,000 rides a day, and intersects with eight CTA bus routes.

CTA Washington/Wabash station (via Office of the Mayor of Chicago)
CTA Washington/Wabash station (via Office of the Mayor of Chicago)


First New Loop ‘L’ Station in 20 Years Replaces Two Century-Old Stations, Creating More Than 350 Jobs and Continuing Mayor’s $8 billion Transit Modernization Investment

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. and CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld to open the new Washington/Wabash Station, a brand new gateway to Millennium Park and the east Loop, and the first new downtown ‘L’ station to open in 20 years.

“The new CTA station at Washington and Wabash represents the best of Chicago’s heritage of architectural innovation and ingenuity while creating modern amenities for the thousands of travelers who utilize it every day,” Mayor Emanuel said. “We have made unprecedented investments to modernize transportation throughout Chicago, and this new station combines that commitment with our city’s culture.

Built between Madison and Washington Streets, over Wabash Avenue, the $75 million station makes a bold architectural statement and replaces two stations that were built more than 120 years ago. The new station is first fully accessible for persons with disabilities with four elevators, an escalator and a platform that is wider than most others in the Loop.

The Washington/Wabash station sits steps from Millennium Park, historic Jeweler’s Row and the vibrant East Loop and Michigan Avenue. It is expected to become one of CTA’s top ten busiest rail stations, providing more than 10,000 rides on a daily basis on the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple Lines. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) built the station, while working with its neighbors to minimize the disruption to Wabash Avenue merchants and traffic. The new station features a striking architectural “skeletal steel” canopy that provides extensive coverage of the station’s platform from end to end, and offers four elevators, an escalator and a platform that is wider than most others in the Loop. The station also has multiple surveillance cameras to enhance passenger safety as well as real-time train arrival information

“This modern, bright and spacious rail station is another important step toward our goal of enhancing public transit options throughout the city,” CTA President Carter said. “We are delighted
to have partnered with CDOT to create this fully accessible, architecturally significant new station that will serve Chicago and its visitors for decades to come.”

“We particularly want to thank the impacted businesses, shoppers and residents for their patience during the construction project,” CDOT Commissioner Scheinfeld said. “We are proud to provide greatly improved access to the east side of the Loop for workers and students, residents, tourists and other users of the CTA system.”

“This station will ensure people with disabilities will have an accessible stop on the east side of the Loop, opening new opportunities to access the city like never before,” Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Karen Tamley said. “It also brings us one step closer to creating 100 percent CTA rail station accessibility across the system and putting us even farther ahead of other legacy systems.”

The new station replaces stations at Madison/Wabash and Randolph/Wabash, both built in 1896. It will also improve travel time around the Loop for passengers and lower maintenance and operational costs for CTA. Additionally, the station was built to be sustainable, reusing existing structure, tracks and other elements and including the installation of bicycle racks to encourage alternative transportation as well as recycling bins on the platforms.

The Washington/Wabash station also features a new public artwork created especially for the station by Chicago-based artist Michiko Itatani. Two large art glass panels located on both sides of the mezzanine – Cosmic Wanderlust 1 & 2 – reflect on human history and culture of the past, present and future. The artist’s multi-colored perspective of this theme features images of libraries, museums, public spaces and performance halls intermingled with images of the cosmos.

The $75 million new station was funded through federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program.

Now that this station is open, the station just to the north, at Randolph and Wabash will be permanently closed on Sunday, Sept. 3. Demolition and removal will be completed before the end of 2017.

The Washington/Wabash station is the latest in Mayor Emanuel and CTA’s $8 billion in transit improvement projects to build a 21st century, world-class transit system. Since Mayor Emanuel took office, the CTA has undertaken 46 station modernizations or comprehensive rehabilitations.

Other investments in the downtown Loop area include the Quincy Station, one of CTA’s oldest and best-preserved stations that is currently undergoing a major renovation that includes the installation of elevators and other improvements. The downtown Loop Link, opened in 2015, provides dedicated traffic lanes for buses, bicycles, pedestrians and cars to improve traffic flow and decrease congestion in the busy area of Washington, Madison, Clinton and Canal. And in 2016, Mayor Emanuel opened the new Union Station Transit Center next to the Loop Link, serving six bus routes and providing convenient connections between buses, Amtrak and Metra trains.

from Chicago Architecture

Controversial Logan Square Building Gets Construction Permit

A new apartment building is coming to Logan Square, filling a long-standing gap in the Milwaukee Avenue streetwall.

Rendering of 1970 North Milwaukee

Rendering of 1970 North Milwaukee

1980 North Milwaukee was granted foundation permits earlier this year, and just recently received approval to go the full monty.

When complete, it will have 132 residences across seven floors.  The total building height will be 96 feet, which may help deaden the sound of the adjacent passing CTA Blue Line L trains for people living east of the project.  People to the west will get a lesson in how sound waves bounce off buildings.

A modest proposal in many other Chicago neighborhoods, this project was greeted with opposition by some locals who fear it will bring too much density to their corner of the city.  The building will replace an empty lot that has been vacant longer than most high school students have been alive.

We last reported on this project when it was headed to the Chicago Plan Commission late last year:

…This is the location of the Weyland Building, built in 1907 and designed by John Ahlschlager.  He’s the same hand that crafted the Schulze Baking Company building in Washington Park.

Unlike the Schulze building, the Weyland Building is not landmarked, so Clayco originally planned to knock the whole thing down and start over.  Its later decision to preserve the facade was hailed by one online business publicationas a triumph of neighborhood groups and developers working together.


from Chicago Architecture

Another Residential Building Hugs The Kennedy

Visually, it’s not the most interesting new building in Chicago, but soon a dozen or so people will call it home.  880 North Milwaukee Avenue is the latest in a series of new developments recently approved by the city along the bustling, and sometimes confusing, corridor between Bucktown and Downtown.

Diagram of 880 North Milwaukee

Diagram of 880 North Milwaukee

In the last decade, as the city’s demographics, ward boundaries, and notions about private car use have changed, this street has gone from industrial backwater to an essential link between jobs and homes.  Early on in the hipsterization of the city’s marginal nooks the city responded with a simple bicycle lane, and that has grown and evolved into a major human-powered commuting route.

In tandem, developers are turning Milwaukee Avenue’s vacant lots, vacant bow truss factories, and vacant commercial buildings into swanky new condos.  Being hard against the interstate isn’t seen as a liability anymore, but as an engaging piece of life-sized kinetic art to be seen through showcase windows.

Taking advantage of a pair of adjacent vacant lots (878 and 880), Vari Architects (just three doors down) came up with a design putting eight residential units above a single retail space.  That retail space will encompass virtually the entirety of the lot as a podium, while the residences above will be set back from the freeway-adjacent lot line by 30 feet.

  • Address: 878 North Milwaukee Avenue
  • Address: 880 North Milwaukee Avenue
  • Architecture firm: Vari Architects
  • Stories: Five
  • Maximum height: 62 feet
  • Height to roof: 55 feet
  • Maximum width: 48 feet
  • Maximum length: 122 ½ feet
  • Floor Area Ratio: 3.27
  • Floor Area: 19,240 square feet
  • Residences: Eight

Diagram of 880 North Milwaukee
Diagram of 880 North Milwaukee
Diagram of 880 North Milwaukee
Diagram of 880 North Milwaukee
Diagram of 880 North Milwaukee

from Chicago Architecture

Obama Center Clarifies Its Plaisance Park Parking Plan

The Obama Foundation has revealed its plans for a chunk of the Midway Plaisance across the street from the new Barack Obama Presidential Center.  It wants to use the  tree-lined open lawn for a parking garage and transit center.

The Obama Foundation describes the public open parkland as “underutilized,” which is kind of the point of open parkland.  In modern landscaping terms, the space will be “activated” with a park-capped parking garage, a tour bus staging area, a picnic area, and a play lot.

An earlier plan for the Obama Center alluded to changes on this block.  The digram showed improved landscaping, curving pathways, and rudimentary driveways.  But it was not labeled “Parking Garage” the way the Museum, Forum, Plaza, and other features of what may be a billion-dollar project were.

(Left to right) The Midway Plaisance block today, the original proposal, and the current proposal.

(Left to right) The Midway Plaisance block today, the original proposal, and the current proposal.

That earlier plan included a pedestrian tunnel connecting the parking block with the main campus, avoiding potential problems with hordes of tourists unloading from buses and crossing South Stony Island Avenue en masse.    The latest plan puts a median on Stony Island, corralling people into crossing the street at Midway Plaisance Drive and 60th Street, an ideal set-up for a scramble crossing.

August, 2017 Obama Center revision (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)
August, 2017 Obama Center revision (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)
August, 2017 Obama Center revision (Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

Obama Foundation Announces Proposal for Combined Park & Parking Facility for Obama Presidential Center

Chicago, IL – Today, the Obama Foundation announced its proposal for a combined park and parking facility on an underutilized section of the Midway Plaisance across from the future site of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC). The OPC will be located in historic Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago, a community the Obamas call home. President and Mrs. Obama chose to bring the OPC to the South Side, in part, to give back to the community that has given them so much. The Center will strengthen the economic climate in the community by bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the South Side every year, creating new jobs on the South Side and revitalizing Jackson Park. The proposed park and parking facility will support those goals by stimulating the streets around the OPC with increased pedestrian activity.

The OPC and the parking facility are designed to unlock the full potential of Jackson Park as a recreational destination for the community and visitors alike. The facility will be covered and surrounded by a new 3-4 acre park that will be open to the public and provide views of Jackson Park and its lagoons, and numerous new recreational opportunities, such as a picnic area, a children’s play area and more. The existing Cheney-Goode Memorial will be retained as part of the proposed redevelopment of this parkland. The proposal includes off-street bus drop-off and pick-up, bicycle parking, and a close connection to Metra.

“The Foundation evaluates each proposal for the design of the OPC through the lens of supporting our surrounding community. Building a parking facility on the Midway continues the Obama Foundation’s goal of revitalizing Jackson Park and spurring economic activity across the South Side,” explained David Simas, Chief Executive Officer at the Obama Foundation. “With this proposal, we are increasing foot traffic within the community, not just in Jackson Park, and creating new park space for families to gather and play.”

The parking facility is expected to hold 400-450 vehicles. The parking facility will be paid for by the Obama Foundation.

The Midway Plaisance is owned by the City of Chicago. Pending input from the community and approval by the City Council, the City would convey rights for parking to the Obama Foundation.

In May, President and Mrs. Obama announced their initial design concept for the OPC. In June, July and August, the Obama Foundation has participated in dozens of one-on-one meetings, small group meetings with the community, and public meetings with the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Chicago Department of Transportation, and Alderman Leslie Hairston. The Foundation also issued an online survey to receive feedback on its design concepts. Today’s combined park and parking facility proposal includes input from those feedback sessions.

from Chicago Architecture