With the ambitious Chicago Spire now resembling nothing more than a privy pit, Santiago Calatrava might not have an opportunity to reshape the Chicago Skyline. But he may yet have an opportunity to help drive a new sense of place along the Chicago River.
On May 7, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Calatrava will be designing a sculpture intended for the front lawn of River Point, Pickard Chilton Architects’ hyperbolic skyscraper at 444 Lake Street along the north branch of the Chicago River. With a working title of S25, the piece will twist like a wild leafy wing spiraling out from the ground.
“The partners of River Point hope Chicagoans will fall in love with the inspired Santiago Calatrava sculpture as they have with Chicago’s Picasso, Kapoor, Chagall, Miro, Plensa, Calder and so many more,” said Larry Levy of Levy Family Partners, part of the ownership group of River Point.
Refined public space and art partnerships along the Chicago River are a principal component of the Mayor’s Building on Burnham Plan, which makes investments in natural areas and recreational opportunities at the Lakefront and the river. The Building on Burnham Plan draws insight from Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, which was only partially implemented but continues to inspire planners and architects, particularly in its suggestions regarding parkland.
Construction for the 2,000-foot-tall spiraling condo tower Calatrava designed on the 2.2-acre site in Chicago began in 2007 but stalled in 2008 due to the global financial crisis, leaving a gaping circular hole in Streeterville. After multiple false starts and mitigation techniques, including placing a landscaped berm around the site in 2016 to appease neighbors, Related Midwest has taken over the site, and will be announcing plans for it on May 15.
Calatrava’s sculpture will be installed along a portion of the river known as Wolf Point, at the confluence of the north branch and the main branch of the 156-mile river. Fabrication of the sculpture is expected to take 14 months, with its installation slated for Summer 2019.