200 North Michigan: The Incredible Shrinking Skyscraper

200 North Michigan being erased

If only it was this easy…

If you’ve been saving your pennies so that you can live on the 44th floor of the shiny new residential tower going up at 200 North Michigan Avenue… It may be time to re-think that plan.

That’s because the 44th floor no longer exists.  Nor does the 43rd or the 42nd.  In fact, the entire skyscraper has been downsized about 9% from 537 feet tall to 488 feet tall.

According to papers filed with the city by the developer, the John Buck Company, the highest floor in the new plan for the building is now 41, instead of 45.

200 North Michigan animation

While the bKL-designed tower is shorter, it maintains its 166-foot length and 130-foot width.

So, what happened?  It’s hard to say exactly.  The city gives developers the right to build buildings taller if they do certain things that are good for the city.  They’re called “F.A.R. bonuses.”  Things like adopting a landmark, or writing a check to the city’s affordable housing fund will earn a developer a bonus.

In the case of 200 North Michigan, the developer is getting bonuses for contributing $1.3 million to affordable housing, and for hiding the parking behind retail space.  But in the old plan, filed in July of 2013 the developer was also getting a bonus for including setbacks on the 7th and 8th floors, which gave the building a strange little hump where the shaft joined the base.  In the new plan, filed with the city a couple of days ago, that has been flattened out, eliminating that portion of the height bonus, and thus reducing the height of the building.

There have been a few other minor changes in the design.  The grand five-story main entrance has been moved to the middle of the Michigan Avenue side of the building.  Before it was toward the south end.

The building’s elevator core and mechanical penthouse have also shifted, from the center of the tower to the north side.

In the old plan, the south (Lake Street) side of the building had entrances for retail space.  Now there is only one.  The new plan also more clearly shows that the west (Garland Court) side of the building has the ground floor residential entrance set back from the sidewalk in a small arcade.

Also in the old plan, the sixth and seventh floors were slightly larger than the other floorplates of the tower, giving it a strange hump where the base and shaft meet.  Now that is gone and the tower joins the base at a right angle.

In both designs, there is no 13th floor.

Location: 200 North Michigan Avenue, The Loop


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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