A Stirring at the Dead Mandarin Oriental Project in The Loop

Remember the Mandarin Oriental Tower Chicago?  The 74-story luxury hotel designed by SCB that was going to fill in the last vacant lot in the Illinois Center?

It’s been years since the project with a vanity address of 213 North Michigan Avenue (it’s actual real address would have been 130 East Lake Street) failed to happen. And years since anything at all has happened in that location other than it being used as a parking lot for itinerant utility trucks and as a toilet by vagrants.  Then late last night our Loop Spy sent in pictures of… something.

Mandarin Oriental Tower Chicago

It’s not much.  But it appears that someone has finally bothered to take down the Coming Soon: Mandarin Oriental Chicago signs that have been on the East Lake Street side of the property for probably close to five years.

This can be seen in one of two ways:

  1. A sign that something else is finally coming to this space.
  2. A final nail in the coffin of the project and any hopes that anything at all will happen here.

Time will tell.


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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    • Editor

      That just makes it more interesting because we have an article about the Millennium Park Plaza renovation scheduled for Monday. Perhaps there’s something even more “up” here than we realized.


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  1. Technically those were on the south side of the site, but who’s counting. The map that sales flyer uses doesn’t have the Mandarin listed, and it also doesn’t show Aqua (quite the old imagery then). Aqua does have a hotel in it, so if they’re only showing hotels, again, why not Aqua? I would like to see something go in here. Chicago went from getting two asian hotels in the Mandarin and the Shangri-La in Waterview Tower, but instead got nothing. This is a pretty prime site. Let’s hope it’s something as visually striking as the rendering above was…except for that large podium. With Illinois Center elevated, is a large podium really needed still?

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    • Editor

      The Raddison Blu isn’t entirely left out, its stats are just incorporated into the Lakeshore East box where it says “500 Hotel Rooms.” It does appear that hotels and residential were a priority for labeling on that map.

      As for why the Mandrin is on one page and not the other — it could be because there was no room for it under the big “SITE” arrow, so its hotel rooms were counted in with Lakeshore East. Remember, Aqua only has ~300 hotel rooms. The other 200 could be from the Mandarin.

      FWIW, the document was created in April, 2012.

      As for the podium — well, it’s SCB. That’s their formula. Parking podium + generic square glass tower above. Even SOAR is getting sick of it. I think if SCB was to design a doghouse it would have a podum.

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  2. That site has a huge problem: on two sides it’s blocked by big wide Illinois Center slab shaped buildings. No views whatsoever for 25 or so stories on the North and West sides of the new building. None. And to the South, there’s the narrower (at least you’d be able to see around it) but very tall Prudential tower.

    It’s kind of a hopeless site for residential construction, where views are paramount. Nobody’s going to pay the prices a 75 story building requires to look straight out into Illinois Center offices.

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