Supertall Skyscraper Planned Along Chicago River at Lakeshore East

Prolific Chinese real estate developer and investment company Wanda Group has announced that it will build a new 1,150-foot-tall skyscraper in Chicago.

Wanda Group isn’t a household name in Chicago… yet. But it has big plans to move into the American real estate development sector very aggressively in the near future. It already has 55 five-star hotels and 78 department stores in China. In America, you may know it as the company that owns AMC Theatres.

Chinese developers say a lot of things, and we would normally consider this yet another rumor/wishful thinking/bit of puffery from our friends in the Orient. But this announcement of what might become Chicago’s third-tallest skyscraper (sorry, Aon Center) was very specific.

Specifically:

  • The cost is $900,000,000
  • The height is 1,150 feet and 89 stories
  • 1.4 million square feet of space
  • The tower will be hotel on the bottom, and apartments on top, with a retail component
  • A five-star hotel with the Wanda brand is planned
  • Walking distance to Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue
  • 240 hotel rooms
  • Opening in 2018

Oh, and we have a picture of the new tower for 375 East Wacker Drive:

Drawing of the Wanda Tower at Lakeshore East

Drawing of the Wanda Tower at Lakeshore East

You can see the tower built on East Wacker Drive, next to the second phase of the GEMS Academy school by friends-of-the-blog bKL Architecture. It completely fills the space between the school and The Regatta (425 East Wacker Drive).

Original SOM layout for Lakeshore East showing a huge tower straddling North Field Bolevard

Original SOM layout for Lakeshore East showing a huge tower straddling North Field Bolevard

You may also be able to see that the new mega-structure straddles North Field Boulevard. That might seem odd at first glance, but the very earliest sketches of Lakeshore East when it was laid out by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill show a similar tower in that location, along East Wacker Drive, straddling North Field Boulevard. Engineers and planners have long referred to it simply as “Building C.”

When we might see Building C, or the Wanda Tower, or whatever it might be called, become reality is hard to say. Wanda Group claims construction will start this year. There’s simply no way that will happen. The paperwork alone will push this into 2015.

The other big question we have is: Is this the big landmark skyscraper that Magellan co-CEO Joel Carlins told Crain’s Chicago Business he commissioned local starchitect Jeanne Gang to design for Lakeshore East?

Time will tell.

Early diagram of Lakeshore East showing "Building C" straddling North Field Boulevard

Early diagram of Lakeshore East showing “Building C” straddling North Field Boulevard

 

Location: 375 East Wacker Drive, The Loop

 

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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6 Comments

  1. Great article! Would there have to be any change in zoning or a PD for this project or is it just waiting on financing (which it already apparently has) and permits to build?

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    • Editor

      That location is currently zoned for a 62-story building. But turning that into 89-stories isn’t that hard. The developer can get all kinds of height bonuses from the city for having upper-level setbacks (which it already does), donating money to the affordable housing fund, adopting a landmark, etc…

      As an example, Aqua was originally zoned for 67 stories, and ended up 83.

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  2. I want to like this more. I don’t hate it, but…

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    • I agree. I think the design just isn’t that compelling though. Looks very Abu Dhabi to me and not very Chicago.

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  3. It must be liberating to create a piece of architecture that is so completely free of beauty and aesthetics.

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  4. We need a “New” Tallest Building in Chicago. The old Sears Towers/Willis Tower is outdated and simply just ugly. It was dark and ugly in 1976 and still is.
    Trump Tower is one of the most beautiful buildings in Chicago. Aqua Tower, the 83 story building in LakeShore East is beautiful. If the same architect, Jeanne Gang that designed Aqua Tower is going to design this new one, why doesn’t she use her same skills to make it a beautiful and bright looking tower.
    We don’t need another ugly square or rectangular Mies van der Rohe box in Chicago. That boxy style from the 1960s and 70s is UGLY and outdated, just like the Sears/Willis tower is outdated.
    Why just make it 89 floors, is there a limit in height?
    They should make it 110 or more if possible to be the Tallest in Chicago and even taller than the World Trade center/Freedom Tower in NYC.
    Why stop at just 89 floors????

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