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Old September 23rd, 2004, 05:02 PM   #21
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Correcton: It is Office Depot (not Office Max). It will be taking over first floor and basement level. The second floor will be available for another tenant (dunno who).

I don't know whether should I be jumping up and down with joy. Office Depot? ehhhh.....*shrug*
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Old September 23rd, 2004, 07:03 PM   #22
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Well, believe me... I'd rather a Best Buy or another department store, but, I'll take ANYTHING at this point. That site is such an eyesore!
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Old September 23rd, 2004, 09:34 PM   #23
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I heard about it yesterday, see story below:

Office Depot eyes State Street
From the Crain's Chicago Business Newsroom
September 22 16:04:00, 2004
By Alby Gallun
-----
The Toys ‘R’ Us Store on State Street, a vacant eyesore for more than two years, is close to having a new tenant: Office Depot Inc.

Representatives of the Florida-based office-products retailer are in advanced negotiations to lease about 20,000 square feet of the 60,000-square-foot store at 10 S. State St., according to people familiar with the situation.

Toys ‘R’ Us left a gaping hole on State Street when it closed its Chicago flagship in 2002, and city officials grew frustrated with the New Jersey-based company’s inability to find another retailer to sublease the space. They even floated the idea of turning the vacant store into a year-round farmer’s market.

Chicago-based JDI Realty LLC recently bought the property in a complicated transaction, hiring Chicago-based Northern Realty Group Ltd. to lease the space. A Northern Realty executive declined to comment, and representatives of JDI and Office Depot didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

If the deal goes through, Office Depot will lease the ground floor and basement of the building, leaving the second floor available for other tenants.



In general I am not a huge fan of big box stores, but I do think this is a good use of the space, and will assist in helping bring other retail back to the large amount of vacant retail space on the west side of State St. I am also biased as a more succesful State Street spells more equity in my home.
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Old October 11th, 2004, 06:58 AM   #24
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Update time! Here's the latest on 111 S. Wacker and Hyatt Center (as the glass creeps toward the roof! They've also got the construction-elevator gap closed off on Hyatt finally... now we just have to wait for the white protective vinyl to come off the facade.

Speaking of which, is anyone else concenred by how similar these two facades look? I don't know that I like their "unified front" as seen from the west.

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Old October 11th, 2004, 10:21 AM   #25
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Whoa, I thought that the Hyatt was gonna stay white- it really added a good contrast- that sucks
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Old October 12th, 2004, 12:57 AM   #26
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I always thought they were going to clad it in that greenish glass. better that way.
 
Old October 12th, 2004, 05:24 AM   #27
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^both of those highrises aren't particularly distinguished. Also, if you go to www.fifieldco.com, you can see a ton of renderings (which have been modified several times in the past few months--for the better, IMO) of 550 w. Adams, which is being built soon as USG's new headquarters.

Either way, I think the cutting-edge architecture that is starting to make its way back into Chicago is mostly in the form of civic or residential projects. I guess this is no longer the era of great and daring office buildings.

I have to admit, though, I really like the base of 111 S Wacker, especially with the lobby and its presence.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 07:50 AM   #28
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Well, don't get me wrong; I happen to love both Hyatt Center and 111 S. Wacker. There is an ideal place for creative, innovate and fresh architecture, but, Wacker Drive isn't it. As the city's new financial core, Wacker should remain distinguished and permanent in its appearance.

My only issue with these two new buildings is that I would have liked to see some more communication between their respective architects and developers. Any amount of discussion could have easily resulted in a solution that would have seperated the two buildings' facades. A simple change in glass-color, or a few shades difference in the brushed metal cladding would have done the trick. Too late now I guess.

As far as 550 W. Adams goes, it looks great, and appears to be on a much larger scale than a lot of recent West Loop developments (which is a good thing if the City ever intends for the WL to reallyl be an extension of the Loop).
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Old October 25th, 2004, 11:16 PM   #29
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It's that time again kiddies. Here's the latest from some Loop projects:

1 S. Dearborn progressing nicely (my count was 27-stories so far).


Sneak-peek of the 1SD enclosure system (northwest corner).


Not so sure about the black marble... we'll have to see how it ties in with everything else (northeast corner of 1SD).


1SD seen just starting to peek out of the skyline (view south on Dearborn from Lake).


The finished product: probably the most appealing garage in the City (Clark and Lake).


A small available retail location in the new Clark and Lake garage.


The larger of the two retail slots in the new garage (this one is on the northwest corner of the structure). Hold your shock and surprise... it's... *gasp*... a Walgreens! Just what we needed!!! Now, if it's 24 hours... I'll be a happy camper.


Lastly, the nearly-completed western facade of the Heritage at Millennium Park. I've got to seriously question the decision to paint the columnar elements in the middle gray instead of white... I think it gives the building an unfinished appearance. Also, what's the hold-up on installing those balcony railings?
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Old October 26th, 2004, 12:12 AM   #30
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I really like how the Heritage is shaping up. In my opinion, leaving the middle columnar area grey helps add depth/projection to the whole circular extension.
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Old October 26th, 2004, 02:19 AM   #31
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What is the deal with all these Walgreens? Do they honestly think they're in that high of a demand? The only think that explains to me why a Walgreens was built there is because they are planning to eventually demolish the nearby Walgreens on the NE corner of State and Randolph
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Old October 26th, 2004, 02:24 AM   #32
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thanks for the update... the garage looks decent, for a garage.
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Old October 26th, 2004, 02:36 AM   #33
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Its great to see newer buildings in the East Loop. 1SD isnt special, but I love seeing more office space constructed within the Loop, and not on the outskirts. That means a more dense core, and I am all for it.
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Old October 26th, 2004, 04:23 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Urban Politician
What is the deal with all these Walgreens? Do they honestly think they're in that high of a demand? The only think that explains to me why a Walgreens was built there is because they are planning to eventually demolish the nearby Walgreens on the NE corner of State and Randolph
Supposedly, the Walgreens at 15 W Washington, between State and Dearborn was built to replace the one at State and Randolph. The manager there has told me that it is the busiest Walgreens in the Loop.
I guess, if the market is there, they will keep building them. You also must remember, that there was a Walgreens on the corner of State and Madison (where Sears is now) for many years. They tend to open and close stores as needed, and wherever they can get a good lease.

Geoff, Thanks for the pics, You captured the windows of my apartment quite well! As for the new Walgreens, you will like having one so close by, it can be quite convenient and they have milk at $1.69 a half gal.!
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Old October 26th, 2004, 04:29 AM   #35
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Walgreens is expensive and they always scan everything wrong when it's on sale, but yea.... Also there seems to be some type of activity on Wabash and Pearson, they tore down a small restaurant and the parking lot is now closed.... The land is owned by Loyola, does anyone have any info?
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Old October 26th, 2004, 04:50 AM   #36
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I agree that Walgreens is expensive, but I will gladly buy their lost leader items instead of schleping them from a store farther away. ;-)
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Old October 26th, 2004, 06:17 AM   #37
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Compared to the 24-hour White Hen in my building, Walgreens seems like a dollar store!!! I'd be more than happy to pay $3.00 for a bottle of ketchup instead of $6.00.
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Old October 26th, 2004, 05:06 PM   #38
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Reshaping the streetwall
Chicago's dramatic cliff of buildings faces a major makeover. And much more is at stake here than architecture.



By Blair Kamin
Tribune architecture critic
Published October 26, 2004

It's the face of Chicago, this row of buildings is, and it's about to experience one of the most significant bursts of construction since it started to take shape at the end of the 19th Century.

Some of the prospects are dazzling, others depressing. What they reveal is the need for a sharper set of planning tools as developers rush to capitalize on the success of Millennium Park by erecting new condo towers that could add to the row's glory or mar it forever.

The row, or streetwall, extends like a cliff along the western edge of Grant Park from Randolph Street on the north to Roosevelt Road on the south. For drop-dead grandeur, it is every bit the equal of the buildings that line New York's Central Park. Two years ago, fearing that a building boom could blight this magnificent stretch with the sort of hideous concrete slabs rising in River North, Mayor Richard Daley wisely turned all but the southernmost block of the streetwall into a landmark district, giving the city tight control over future construction.

Architects fumed, saying the district would curb their creativity. The city denied it wanted to impose a straitjacket. Now, there is evidence to support both sides -- and to remind us, in this age of spectacular buildings by the likes of Frank Gehry, that mundane planning instruments still wield tremendous influence over the quality of the cityscape.

On the plus side, the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies has advanced a boldly innovative plan for a new building that would rise just north of its present home at 618 S. Michigan Ave. The design, expected to be approved in November by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, calls for a 10-story structure with a diamond-like facade of folding glass. It is so skillfully done that it tempts one to say that the doomsaying architects were wrong about city bureaucrats squelching their style.

Yet precisely that sort of meddling helped compromise the shape of a now-approved condo highrise at 1000 S. Michigan. It represents a far more telling case than Spertus of how the district will collide with marketplace realities. The result: An acceptable design, but hardly one for the art history books.

The contrast is equally sharp on the north and south ends of the streetwall where new towers will form giant bookends for the district even though they are outside its borders and are not governed by its constraints.

On the north, the soon-to-be-finished Heritage at Millennium Park, where Daley is to live, uses contemporary architecture to create a surprisingly graceful transition between the row's historic buildings and the much-taller modern towers along Randolph Street. Yet to the south, at 1160 S. Michigan, a setback skyscraper called the Columbian -- it has yet to begin construction -- shapes up as a disappointing retro design, a missed opportunity to end the streetwall with an innovative exclamation point.

Much more is at stake here than how to extend the streetwall's stunning smorgasbord of styles -- Venetian Gothic, Romanesque Revival, Classical Revival, Chicago School -- into the 21st Century. The streetwall is the image Chicago projects to the world. It appears on postcards, on television, and now is more visible than ever because of the throngs that have surged into Millennium Park.

But the park, which lines the streetwall's northern edge, has transformed the real estate dynamics of its environs, turning a sleepy business zone into a bustling neighborhood that teems with tourists. The booming Central Station residential development has had a similar impact near the row's south end.

As construction cranes prepare to move in, the question looms: Does the city have the right set of tools to guide the streetwall's growth?

Few are aware that the city has never gotten around to formally approving its tools, a series of draft design guidelines made public two years ago. As city landmarks officials acknowledge, the buildings that have been approved so far are, in effect, test cases. What those cases show is that the guidelines, for all their admirable sophistication, still need to be tweaked.

Prepared by the Chicago firm Gonzalez Hasbrouck, the guidelines are a kind of architectural recipe book, with do's and don't's that cover everything from additions to new construction. New buildings can be built on vacant lots in the district and, the guidelines say, they may replace existing buildings that don't contribute to the district's character. New buildings, the guidelines add, are supposed to exhibit "sound contemporary design" that respects the district's historic qualities.

But divining exactly what that means can prove as difficult as teasing out the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famously vague definition of pornography: You know it when you see it. As the Spertus case shows, such judgments are invariably subjective.

Benefits of Millennium Park

Ten years ago, when aesthetic conservatism reigned at Daley's City Hall, landmarks officials might have told the architects of the Spertus plan, the Chicago firm of Krueck & Sexton, to slap some classical columns on their facade. Today, though, the design enjoys the benefits of the post-Millennium Park effect, which has created a new receptiveness to contemporary design at City Hall.

Instead of hammering the plan for not following the prevailing masonry exteriors in the district (brick, stone and terra cotta) city landmarks officials went out of their way to be open to it, even observing that glass can be thought as the terra cotta of today.

This is stretching standards like salt-water taffy, but the Spertus plan is so good it's easy to see why that's happening.

Designed to house the institute's college, library and museum, the building will strike a remarkable balance between respecting the row and making a powerful contemporary statement. Like buildings throughout the district, it will be strongly vertical, subtly suggesting the three-part division of a classical column. Its folding glass facade promises to match the ever-varying shade and shadow patterns of the district's richly articulated historic buildings.

But, this being Chicago, there's a catch: Spertus seems likely to prove an exception, not the rule.

First, it's a small building, just 161 feet tall and located in the middle of a block rather than at a prominent corner site. Second, the client is a non-profit institution, not a profit-making developer who wants to build the maximum amount of space. Indeed, the building's top will be nearly 120 feet shorter than the height ceiling suggested by the guidelines.

Elsewhere, the tension between business-as-usual development and the design guidelines is clear, present and potentially dangerous.

Consider the saga of 1000 S. Michigan, which was designed by Chicago's DeStefano and Partners and is being developed by a venture that includes Guy Gardner. A groundbreaking will be held early next year, Gardner said.

In 1999, the developers brought to City Hall a proposed tower of 700 feet, nearly 300 feet taller than the district's tallest buildings, the neo-Gothic Willoughby Tower at 8 S. Michigan and the beehive-topped Britannica Centre at 310 S. Michigan.

City planners asked the developers to cut its height to the 425-foot ceiling suggested by the guidelines. Simultaneously, neighbors in the building to the north got the developers to trim about 25 feet off the building's north side, making way for a shaft that will let light and air into their apartments. The developers, not surprisingly, were intent on maximizing square footage and profit.

The design that emerged from these colliding forces is hardly a terrible building, but it's a classic case of what might be called "not quite" architecture.

While the terra cotta-clad base nicely continues the row's prevailing 280-foot height, it isn't quite wide enough to give the tower the muscular oomph of the streetwall's best buildings. The glassy top, meanwhile, isn't quite tall enough to look like a true tower. It's part slab, part whiskey bottle, with just enough towerlike elements to make it visually palatable. The result would have been better if city planners had shown greater flexibility on the issue of height, trading more floors for better proportions and a more elegant skyline.

Still, greater height is hardly a panacea, as seen by the contrast between the two ends of the streetwall, the Heritage at Millennium Park and the Columbian.

Despite its off-Michigan location, one block behind the row at the corner of Randolph and Wabash Avenue, the Heritage has a major presence in the row. Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz and developed by a joint venture that includes Mesa Development, it is due to open next year. Its outlines, though, already are evident: A base steps up from an older building to the south and turns into a slender, 620-foot tower.

Not a meek building

With its glass and painted concrete exterior, the skyscraper makes a strikingly effective transition between the historic row and the much-taller modern towers along Randolph, including the slice-topped Smurfit-Stone Building. Yet it is no meek background building. Its curves strike up a conversation with the explosive metal shells of Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. The design works not only as an object but also as part of a larger whole.

At the Columbian, which will rise at the high-profile corner of Michigan and Roosevelt Road, the outcome seems likely to be very different.

Developed by Allison Davis and designed by DeStefano and Partners, the 493-foot, brick-faced tower is in the final stages of city review. Its design seeks to evoke the slim, setback skyscrapers of the 1920s and to resemble, as the architects assert, a corner post that punctuates the end of a fence.

While the design is a cut above the brute concrete slabs of River North, its setbacks creating a sculptural profile, it is nonetheless draped in the sort of nostalgic cloak that seems to appeal to aging Baby Boomers returning to the city from the suburbs.

This is generic traditionalism, better suited to the banal towers of Central Station than to the extraordinary architecture of the streetwall. While the tower correctly bookends the streetwall, it does so with considerably less panache than the Heritage.

Yet even if the guidelines had affected the Columbian -- city planners did not include the block between 11th Street and Roosevelt in the district because the block had too few historic buildings -- it is hard to see how the guidelines would have significantly improved the skyscraper. For all the influence that planning tools have, this tower reminds us there are limits to their impact: It is impossible to legislate good design.

There are other lessons to be learned from these cases, although the lessons seem contradictory: The guidelines at once need to be loosened and tightened.

Heading off the monsters

To be sure, the guidelines have done exactly what they were supposed to do, preventing monstrously tall towers from invading the district.

Yet as the Heritage and 1000 S. Michigan cases show, it may make sense for planners to raise the height ceiling, letting new residential towers go as high as 550 or 600 feet. A little jaggedness -- as opposed to a uniform height cap -- can only enrich the skyline, as Chicago architect Ben Weese, a member of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, suggests: "If we lop 'em off, it's like mowing the grass too short."

Why not extend this flexibility across stylistic boundaries? The Heritage shows that large-scale contemporary designs can work in the streetwall, not just tiny modern buildings like Spertus.

Now for the tightening up: For the guidelines to be meaningful, they should be applied not only across the entire row but also, perhaps, behind it. As good as the Heritage is, the risk is that future towers along Wabash will create an ugly backdrop to the streetwall. Think of the way the hulking red CNA high-rise at 333 S. Wabash looms above the wall, like the blockhead who wrecks the class portrait.

While city officials including Planning and Development Commissioner Denise Casalino defend what they've done so far, they leave the door open to change.

That's welcome news because, while good design cannot be legislated, bad rules can get in the way. And good design, however hard it is to define, is what Chicago's showcase streetwall richly deserves.

You'll know it when you see it.

- - -

The Michigan Avenue streetwall (New or planned construction is highlighted in red below and shown in detail above.)

1.Columbian

2. 1142 S. Michigan

3. 1130 S. Michigan

4. Grant Park Hotel

5. Columbia College

6. Lightner Building

7. 1000 S. Michigan

8. Karpen-Standard Oil Buildin

9. Crane Co. Building

10. 830 S. Michigan (former YMCA)

11. Johnson Publishing Co.

12. East-West University

13. Essex Inn

14. Chicago Hilton & Towers

15. The Blackstone

16. Columbia College

17. Spertus Institute

18. Spertus Insitute (Future)

19. Harvester Building

20. Congress Hotel Annex

21. Congress Hotel

22. The Auditorium

23. Fine Arts Building

24. Fine Arts Annex

25. Chicago Club

26. McCormick Building

27. Karpen Building

28. Britannica Centre

29. Santa Fe Building

30. Orchestra Hall

31. Borg-Warner Building

32. Peoples Gas Building

33. Municipal Courts Building

34. Illinois Athletic Club

35. Monroe Building

36. University Club

37. The Gage Group

38. Chicago Athletic Association

39. Willoughby Tower

40. Montgomery Ward Building

41. Smith, Gaylord & Cross Building

42. Michigan Boulevard Building

43. Chicago Cultural Center

44. The Heritage at Millennium Park


City panel OKs design for Spertus Institute
A plan to create a distinctly modern building in the city's Michigan Avenue historic district appeared to be sailing toward final passage Thursday. The plan for the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies calls for a 10-story building with a folding, faceted glass facade.
(Handout image of proposed building)
October 8, 2004

Sources: City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development

Chicago Tribune/Keith Claxton
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Old October 26th, 2004, 07:40 PM   #39
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Okay, what Blair Kamin writes is rarely too far removed from genius; and this article is no different. I do take exception to one thing that he said, however. Although, it is a bit of a double-edged sword. In regards to extending guidelines to the "back-side" of the streetwall (or those structures that would exist on the east side of Wabash Avenue): where should the regulations end? Kamin makes an example out of CNA, claiming that it detracts from the historic streetwall. Unfortunately, I wouldn't say it's entirely accurate to claim that only a building located directly on, or behind, the streetwall has the ability to to influence its appearance. A building as far west as, let's say Dearborn, could easily detract from, or add to, the streetwall if it were big enough (a perfect example would be Bank One Plaza located between Dearborn and Clark). Basically, the question has to become "how far is too far?" If we let the fear of marring the historic streetwall become an overarching theme, don't we end up stifling architectural liberty for the entire eastern half of the Loop? Leave the streetwall to be what it is: encompassing just a street. Not a whole block. Not an entire district.

Just my .02
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Old October 26th, 2004, 08:59 PM   #40
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^ ding, ding, ding, ding, ding..........we have a winner.

those were my exact sentiments regarding that article, geoff, and i couldn't have said it better myself.
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