The days of gritty manufacturing in Chicago’s near West Side are long gone. The latest development in the evolving neighborhood’s real estate rebound—and artistic reinvention—is a soon-to-be-built eight-story office tower designed to suit the needs of high tech trading companies.
The 150,000-square-foot project will also serve as a major upgrade for the designers’ own office. Eckenhoff Saunders Architects (ESA) currently occupies the two-story brick building at the site, 700 South Clinton Street. That building will be demolished to make way for the new building. The address is just two blocks south of the CTA Blue Line, and a brief walk from the Loop, home to the world's largest futures market operator, CME Group.
A double-digit decline in trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange dragged CME’s revenue down last quarter, but the project’s backers are confident this industrial corner near the West Loop will attract high-tech companies with its prime location and sleek design.
“The timing is right for the tech sector to launch a building of this size,” said Barbara Schenberg, a senior downtown director at developer Cushman Wakefield. Schenberg pointed to the recent arrivals of Motorola Mobility, Google, and other technology companies in downtown Chicago as evidence of the city’s growing business profile.
The design of the speculative office tower includes several green features. Solar panels on the roof will supplement electricity from the grid and help to shade the building from heat-loading sunlight, reducing cooling costs. A geothermal system will offer similar energy savings to ground-floor retail tenants. The building also features rainwater-collection infrastructure that will help mitigate storm water runoff while feeding water into an under-floor cooling system.
In a high-tech hub, cooling is a critical concern. ESA’s design pipes air throughout a rooftop handling system into air columns designed to ventilate the building’s overworked computers, while variable air volume boxes around the building’s perimeter and floor ducts throughout provide additional cooling.
The seventh floor features an outdoor terrace space facing north. Two more terraces on the third floor, facing west, bring the total terrace space up to about 13,000 square feet. The second floor contains 57 parking spots.
An open floor plan, large open structural bays, and high ceilings create flexible spaces ideal for custom tailoring by future tenants. A floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall, outfitted with low-e, tinted, insulated glass units in aluminum frames, promises to flood the floors with ample quantities of natural light.
Schenberg said that tenants are still needed to lease about 70,000 square feet of space before construction can begin, but the building already meets current zoning requirements and has been completely designed and permitted.
While some building specifications could change according to pending clients’ needs, ESA says it can deliver the building within 24 months of signing the contract on the remaining space.