Meatpacking District Warehouse Tower Quickly Becoming a Chic Loft Office Building

1K Fulton under construction

Fulton Market in the West Loop is a street of contrasts. Food processing plants sit alongside art galleries and exclusive, trendy restaurants. The Chicago meatpacking hub will soon have an attractive new component between Carpenter and Morgan Streets: the 1K Fulton project, developed by Sterling Bay Properties.

1K Fulton under construction1K Fulton (1000 West Fulton Street) is a commercial/retail mixed use project that’s using the old Fulton Market Cold Storage building as its blank canvas. The design and transformation of the facility is in the hands of Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. The HPA staff knows a thing or two about the Fulton Market neighborhood and about adaptive reuse since their office is in a converted warehouse just a block south of this project.

What was the architectural inspiration for the 1K Fulton project? The design team took their lead from the distinctive character and history of the neighborhood, including the ice formations that crystallized inside the building during its more than 80 years as a cold storage facility.

HPA also looked at the legacy of the area as a meatpacking and food distribution hub, where neighboring buildings were constructed with brick masonry for insulation and frequently lacked windows.

1K Fulton under construction“The design intent was to respect the scale and history of the neighborhood, and preserve details of the original 1000 West Fulton Market structure,” said George Valdez, HPA director of interior design. “Charged with the task of adding an annex to the original structure, the design team imagined making a cross-section ‘slice’ through the cold storage building to reveal the ice within. That’s why the new construction portion is floor-to-ceiling glass.”

If you look at the development in its current state, easily visible from Halsted Street, the building is skeletal. Structural engineers determined that the façade was in poor condition and unsalvageable. The brick face also had to be removed to remediate the void between the double walls.

The concrete shell, which is being reused in its entirety, will receive a new masonry façade accented with terra cotta belt courses, banding and accents. The existing concrete slabs and capital-topped columns will be incorporated within the interior layout to provide a loft ambiance.

Artifacts from the original building– including face brick, machinery, metal flywheels, and terra cotta elements — were salvaged, with plans to incorporate them within the interior or landscaping.

1K Fulton under constructionInside the building, the existing circular columns will be retained both for structural reasons and aesthetics, so the building retains its edgy, industrial feel.

Mostly, the design intent of 1K Fulton was to fit within the context of the Fulton Market area, Valdez said.

“The existing 10-story concrete loft building will maintain a traditional brick façade and masonry details. The new annex structure will be six stories, in keeping with the height of the neighboring buildings, and has offset terraces so it has a smaller scale than the existing building,” he said.

West Town boasts great views of the downtown skyline and 1K Fulton will take full advantage of this with floor-to-ceiling windows providing sweeping views.

“1K Fulton will not be a typical, downtown Chicago corporate environment,” Valdez said. “Rather, it is a melding of the old with the new. It’s also a metaphor for the transformation that’s been taking place throughout Fulton Market – and the West Loop, overall.”

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Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at

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