Studio Gang's Wanda Tower may climb even higher than originally planned. New renderings revealed Monday night show the tower topping out at 93 stories instead of the previous 88. At 1,144 feet, the tower, whose development is being bankrolled by Beijing-based Wanda Group, would be the third-tallest tower in Chicago (provided it fits the standards of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, who arbitrate such matters.) Formally dubbed Wanda Vista, the $950 million tower will seek LEED Silver certification and is anticipated to open in 2019. The new renderings reveal a continuum of blue-green glass along the building's vertical profile. Gang said Monday the design is meant to mimic the reflection of light off Lake Michigan. The new design retains the massing of three tall, thin towers stepping toward the East, but gone are the balconies along the north and south facades. With more than 1.8 million square feet of real estate, the development will include 405 luxury condominiums and 169 hotel rooms. The Chinese real estate giants announced their plans last year without listing an architect; the design team was soon revealed to be local firms Studio Gang Architects and bKL Architecture. Chicago-based Lakeshore East, which has worked with bKL and Gang to develop the Lakeshore East neighborhood, owns a 10 percent stake in the project.
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City officials laid to rest Wednesday some, but not all, of the supertall rumors swirling around Chicago since July. Beijing-based real estate giant Wanda Commercial Properties is indeed planning what would be the city's third tallest building for 375 East Wacker Drive in the Lakeshore East neighborhood. Since news of the ambitious project first broke this summer, the design has visibly shifted. The project, dubbed Wanda Vista, is now 88 stories instead of 89. Its facade has traded sky blues for shiny silver. The highest of its three volumes is now the westernmost, stepping down towards Lake Michigan instead of up, as originally rendered. The form is still a cluster of three high-rises, made of stacked frustums—cut-off pyramid shapes—that interlock and terminate in green roofs. The middle tower would still straddle North Field Boulevard. Any real detail, however, remains obscured, as the projects' designers, Studio Gang Architects and bKL Architecture, are staying mum. Though the project awaits approval from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and City Council, its developers hope to break ground in 2016. Plans for the mixed-use building include a five-star hotel, apartments, and retail, potentially to open by 2018. The 88-story project is estimated to cost $900 million, a sum not unreasonable for Wang Jianlin, Wanda's chief executive and the richest man in mainland China. Chicago-based Magellan Development, which has worked with bKL and Gang to develop the Lakeshore East neighborhood, owns a 10 percent stake in the project.
Chinese real estate developers Wanda Commercial Properties announced Wednesday plans to build an 89-story mixed-use tower in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood that would unseat Aon Center as the city’s third tallest building. At approximately 1,150 feet tall, the tower at 375 E. Wacker Dr. would be among the tallest buildings in Chicago. AN reached out to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office to confirm the announcement, which was reported in the Wall Street Journal and Chicago Architecture Blog Tuesday, but so far our calls have not been returned. A spokesman for Lakeshore East developer Magellan Properties declined to comment. Chinese news agency Sina reported the building will house a five-star hotel and apartments, and is expected to open in 2018. Along with a retail component, that should total 1.4 million square feet of space, according to Chicago Architecture Blog. The designer is still unspecified, but a rendering from Wanda Group shows three staggered volumes constructed from stacked frustums, or cut-off pyramid shapes. If built, it would occupy the lot adjacent to the new GEMS World Academy building, designed by bKL Architecture. The Beijing-based company, commonly called Wanda Group, is known in the U.S. for buying cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, and has amassed dozens of hotels and department stores in China. The $900 million Chicago project would be the first step in what Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin said will be a big move into U.S. real estate. "Investing in Chicago property is just Wanda's first move into the U.S. real estate market," Jianlin said in a statement, "Within a year, Wanda will invest in more five-star hotel projects in major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. By 2020, Wanda will have Wanda branded five-star hotels in 12–15 major world cities and build an internationally influential Chinese luxury hotel brand." We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.
With the real estate market drifting through a relative recovery, one prominent Chicago developer seems to be saying, "Come back in, the water's fine." The team behind Chicago’s Aqua Tower is gearing up for another high-rise nearby. Chicago-based Magellan Development Group hired Studio Gang Architects for another tower in the 28-acre master-planned neighborhood of Lakeshore East. Gang’s 82-story Aqua Tower, 225 North Columbus Drive, opened in 2009 to international acclaim. Its organically rippled balconies suggest the movement of wind across water. The undulating balconies are functional, too, providing sun shading and eliminating the need for a tuned mass damper. Design details for the new tower are forthcoming, but the developers said it could work on either of two sites in the Lakeshore East area. Five years after the mixed-use tower opened, Aqua saw its last unit sold February 21. Dennis Rodkin reported the 3,200-square-foot town home at the building's base sold for $1.7 million. Aqua’s 262 condominiums, 474 apartments, nine town homes and 334-room hotel are a landmark for the Lakeshore East neighborhood, which is now home to more than 5,000 residents. Development there has taken off since Millennium Park’s 2004 completion. Magellan’s master-planned community include a Dubai-based private school's first U.S. location, a six-acre park, and towers from the likes of SOM, DeStefano + Partners, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, and Steinberg Architects.