111 West Wacker Gets The Doughnut Treatment

111 West Wacker under construction

Around here we like our skyscrapers the way we like our doughnuts — Fully glazed.  And thanks to a tip from Loop Spy Ryan, we see that the skyscraper formerly known as the Waterview Tower is finally getting its glazing.

For months, a group of different glass panels have hung on a corner of 111 West Wacker as its new owner (friends-of-the-blog, Related Midwest) figured out what looked and worked best for the project it restarted.

You may remember that construction on 111 started in 2006, before the economy ate itself.  When everything went all pear-shaped, the Shangri-La Hotel bailed on the project, and it died a horrifying public death, leaving a 20-odd story concrete skeleton rotting on the banks of the Chicago River.

This year, Related Midwest bought the failed project and revived it as a more reasonable 59-story apartment tower instead of the elaborate 92-story office-hotel-condo trifecta it was originally intended to be.

The latest sign of progress on the revived tower is a band of glass panels running around part of the building’s residential shaft.

The glass you see isn’t what the original building was supposed to look like.  The building’s original skin is sitting in a warehouse out by O’Hare airport gathering dust and waiting for the Recycling Fairy to pay it a visit.  Being in storage so long made it unsuitable for use on the new building.

Truth be told, the old 92-story version of this building was the only one that has ever tempted me enough to consider actually buying a home in Chicago.  Even though it’s going to be apartments now, Related has demonstrated that it knows how to build a darned fine apartment building, as we saw over at 500 Lake Shore Drive.  What?  You didn’t see that?  Then click here to see our in-depth article on 500LSD in all its glory.

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This article is the result of photos sent in by people just like you.  E-mail your pics to editor@ChicagoArchitecture.info.
Editor

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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2 Comments

  1. Is the old facade really sitting in a warehouse? Why would it being 7 years old make it not work anymore? Sounds like they just didn’t want to use the old glass.

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    • Editor

      Yes, the facade is sitting in a warehouse. I personally confirmed this with the new architect and the developer.

      I can think of a lot of reasons that the old facade wouldn’t work anymore. Off the top of my head:

      – The new tower design has different ceiling heights than the old design.
      – The old glass (it’s manufactured as panels, not just sheets) has fasteners or casements that don’t meet new environmental or energy efficiency guidelines, or the seals have deteriorated from being exposed and not installed.
      – Glass is a fluid. The panes may have warped over time, or been stored improperly (like if you store a stack of records on their side at an angle they will warp).

      To assume that the developer just doesn’t want to use the old glass doesn’t make sense. He’s paying tens of thousands of dollars to store that stuff until it can be disposed of, and it’s not like he can just dump it into a recycling bin on the curb. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t have to pay to have it recycled. (Which he did tell me would happen — he wouldn’t just throw it in a haldfill). So not using it on a whim would cost the company money, and probably cost him his job.

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