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07.30.2012
Towers in Lincoln Park
Large development planned for old Children's Hospital in Chicago.
Courtesy SOM/Antunovich

When the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Memorial Hospital decamped from its 130-year home in Lincoln Park, several development teams jumped at the chance to reclaim six acres in the heart of one of Chicago’s most vibrant neighborhoods.

The winning team, developer McCaffery Interests with architecture firms Antunovich Associates and SOM, revealed the latest version of their plans at a July 26 community meeting hosted by Alderman Michele Smith. Earlier schemes showed a blocky convergence of two perpendicular towers, which SOM partner Brian Lee likened to a ziggurat.

Now the mixed-use development once home to Children’s is looking more slender. New plans distribute the massing more evenly across the site, which straddles a stretch of North Lincoln between West Fullerton and West Belden Avenues.

“While we’ve been out there, our plan has changed,” said Joe Antunovich. “We’ve listened.”

 

Three glass and steel towers — 145 feet, 250 feet and 290 feet tall — aim to tread lightly on a site that also contains historic facades along residential and commercial streets. The new design calls for 698 multi-unit rentals and more than 160,000 square feet of retail. Parking is largely taken care of already, thanks to an existing 898-stall garage.

Development of the large hospital complex swallowed up some of the historic buildings that front onto Fullerton and North Orchard Street. To preserve the neighborhood’s historic character, the team will reconstruct and restore those buildings.

“We tried to be very much a Lincoln Park project,” Lee said. Still community members expressed anxiety at the high-rises, which they worried aloud might exacerbate an overcrowded school system and disrupt the character of their neighborhood. Others cheered the thrust of the in-progress development, noting those same schools sorely need the property tax revenues of just such a high-density development.

Christopher Bentley