The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority has approved a design for the new McCormick Place Event Center put forth by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.
The design was one of six submitted to McPier as it tries to build a new sports arena/event center, a 1,200-room Marriott Marquis hotel, and a smaller boutique hotel in the South Loop by 2016. The Authority’s board voted unanimously to grant the $7.2 million design contract to the Connecticut architecture firm. The total cost to build the arena is expected to be $173 million. Each firm that submitted a design gets $50,000 just for entering the contest.
DePaul University will not own the arena, but will pitch in $70 million towards its construction. Taxpayers will kick in another $33 million, and another $70 million will come from McPier. How much of that is considered taxpayer money is something you can discuss amongst yourselves.
Pelli Clarke Pelli is the same company that recently opened the new DePaul University Theater School, profiled by our reporter Wendy Bright just last week.
Like previous expansions of the region’s largest convention center complex, this one raised hackles among a number of nearby residents who aren’t convinced that the project’s location, scale, and existence is a good thing for the neighborhood.
McPier promised to choose an “architecturally striking” design that is also “sensitive and accommodating to the surrounding neighborhood.” Whether those goals were met is an exercise for the reader, and for history.
The arena is expected to share the Prairie/Cermak/Indiana/21st Street block with a 500-room boutique hotel, restaurants and bars, and possibly other retail. That means there’s no room for the lovely Rees House, the last remaining Prairie Avenue palace on the block, designed by Cobb & Frost and built in 1888.