▶ Chicago’s Newest Office Tower Still Only Paper and Pixels [Video]

Future location of 151 North Franklin, currently a Walgreens, a surface parking lot, and a Chinese restaurant.

Future location of 151 North Franklin, currently a Walgreens, a surface parking lot, and a Chinese restaurant.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about 151 North Franklin, the office skyscraper proposed for the northeast corner of North Franklin Street and West Randolph Street in The Loop.

Then this week, a marketing video popped up on the internet (see above) for the John Buck Company’s 600,000 square-foot development.  It shows a building that fits in well with its Wacker Drive neighbors.

Big glass lobby walls, outdoor eatery, and zero setbacks try to recreate what was accomplished at 111 South Wacker—blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors, creating a visually open area that is still mostly security-controlled space.   Ask someone to describe it and they’ll use words like “open” and “airy” and “inviting.”  Ask them if they’d feel welcome to wander beyond the glass to admire the lobby art and they’ll use words like “security” and “9/11” and “no.”

Drawing of 151 North FranklinThe new video is different from earlier drawings we’ve seen of this building in that the roof garden has been removed from the top of the parking podium and relocated to the actual roof of the building.  We’ve been told this building may end up with as few as 30 parking spaces, which makes sense in this location which is very well served by CTA trains and buses, Metra, Amtrak, and other forms of mass transit.

Neither the drawings nor the video acknowledge the fact that 151 North Franklin will likely be hard against J. Paul Beitler’s 25-story 200 West Randolph immediately next door.

At a mere 32 stories, this building isn’t going to change the skyline, but it’s going to make far better use of a prominent corner in the urban core.

The property is currently a dilapidated Walgreen’s, a surface parking lot, and a shack called Eat and Drink, which has a dangerous list, holes in the floor, and some of the best Chinese food in the city.

Sharing the block is the parking garage that played a big role in the film Batman Begins, but which is also slated for demolition to make way for a new office building called 200 West Randolph.


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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