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Chicago’s ongoing hotel boom has its latest icon: a 50-story glass tower whose owners proudly announced their new downtown presence with tall, white lettering visible from many blocks down the Chicago River. The opening of Loews Chicago Hotel follows the company’s July acquisition of the InterContinental Chicago O’Hare Hotel.
At 928,000 square feet, the Streeterville location is a bold real estate move, but its architecture seeks to blend in tastefully. A stone and precast concrete base gives way to a tower sheathed in a blue-gray glass curtain wall. Chicago’s Solomon Cordwell Buenz designed the tower, recalling at times their work on The Legacy—a similarly understated glass tower whose shape maximized spectacular downtown views.
The hotel’s interior design “pays homage to Chicago’s strong architecture and the beauty of the city’s infrastructure,” according to a press release from Loews. Apparently an executive was inspired by Carl Sandburg’s famous poem “Chicago.” Its mutable, modern elegance could hardly pass for “Stormy, husky, brawling,” but touches of brick, concrete, and metal play nicely off more luxurious materials, like mohair, cashmere, and leather—a palette that was drawn from fashions “commonly worn in winter by Chicagoans,” according to interior design firm Simeone Deary Design Group.
Bully culture architecture
Will a proposed addition turn Chicago’s Union Station into the new Soldier Field?
According to the Chicago Tribune, CIM Group and Golub have proposed developing a narrow surface parking lot to the northeast of Tribune Tower into a mixed-use skyscraper designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. As the Chicago Tribune notes, Adrian Smith is no stranger to building tall, having led the design team for the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Trump Tower Chicago when he was with SOM. The new tower would eclipse Trump Tower Chicago as the second tallest in Chicago, as Trump Tower only tops out at 1,171 feet tall, and uses a spire to reach 1,388 feet. The current proposal would see the creation of 220 hotel rooms and 158 condo units, as well as 500 parking spaces spread across floors two through eight of the new tower. Alderman Brendan Reilly described the design as “thin and soaring” based on renderings he had seen. This thinness is likely a response to the protected Ogden Slip view corridor, which means that Tribune Tower must remain visible from Lake Shore Drive as part of its landmarked status. While preservationists have been questioning whether this new development, which would dwarf the 462-foot-tall Tribune Tower, is inappropriate for the site, the conversion of Tribune Tower itself has also drawn their ire. The building’s limestone base contains embedded chunks of famous buildings from around the world, and Alderman Reilly has stated that these panels will be relocated to different areas of the tower. Tribune Tower was built in 1925 following a widely-publicized design contest that awarded the $50,000 prize to New York-based Howells & Hood. The tower’s Indiana limestone façade, gothic details, and crown composed of flying buttresses has made it an integral part of the Chicago skyline in the century since its opening. The conversion to residential space and the opening of ground floor retail is expected to finish in 2020; any construction on the adjacent lot is on hold until the Tribune Tower project is complete. The plans presented above are still subject to change, as the developers still need to procure funding and a rezoning of the lot before they can proceed.
Old Tribune Tower doors. Because who wants original details in their historic building, anyway? pic.twitter.com/pAv7YHeDLS— Liam T.A. Ford (@ltaford) January 6, 2018