Another Skyscraper Barges In Along the Chicago River

Groundbreaking for 150 North Riverside

Groundbreaking for 150 North Riverside

Amid construction barges and politicians in hardhats, yesterday downtown Chicago got to see its second skyscraper groundbreaking in as many weeks.

150 North Riverside drawing courtesy of Goettsch Partners

150 North Riverside drawing courtesy of Goettsch Partners

West Loop Spy Kevin hit our Tip Line and sent in this photo of the official groundbreaking for 150 North Riverside.  The project formerly known as 400 West Randolph is another office-tower-plus-park that will help complete the western portion of the Chicago Riverwalk system.

Just as the park at River Point (444 West Lake Street), under construction on the other side of Lake Street will help link the part of the “public” riverwalk that is fenced off from the public (but it’s really still a public park, just go ask the security guard to let you in), 150 North Riverside will connect the public walkway to the Boeing plaza, which is also a public space from which it is perfectly legal to take photographs, no matter what Boeing’s security guards shout at the confused tourists.

150 will attempt to achieve the improbable—sticking a 53-story office building like a lawn dart in the middle of a rail yard.  Its central core will flare out once it passes the lobby, and offices will hang off of either side of it.

It sounds daring and looks a little precarious, but we have no doubt friends-of-the-blog Goettsch Partners will have no problem pulling it off.  They’ve already done this building before—at Sowwah Square in the Abu Dhabi—and in the highest-minded spirit of environmentalism are recycling the building design for Chicago.  But Chicago can at least be proud of knowing that our version of the building will be about 250 feet taller than the U.A.E. iteration.

For lots more information, check out the press release from the Mayor’s office below.

 Mayor Emanuel, Alderman Reilly, O’Donnell Investment Company and William Blair & Co. Break Ground on 150 North Riverside

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Brendan Reilly, O’Donnell Investment Company CEO John O’Donnell and William Blair & Company President and CEO John Ettelson today broke ground on 150 North Riverside, a new 1.2 million-square-foot Class A office tower being built at Randolph and River in the West Loop. The nearly $500 million project will create more than 1,500 construction jobs, 150 permanent jobs and 1.5 acres of new open space as well as an amphitheater and a block-long riverwalk. Global investment banking and asset management firm William Blair & Co. has signed on as the anchor tenant and will lease 318,000 square feet when the building opens in 2016.

“Projects like 150 North Riverside are helping to rebuild and reimagine the Chicago river, and as importantly they are creating solid middle class jobs for Chicago’s workers,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “The construction on this site not only supports commerce but also improves quality of life for residents here in the City of Chicago.”

Designed by Goettsch Partners and Magnusson Klemencic Associates, the $500 million project will cantilever above active Metra and Amtrak rail right-of-ways along the South Branch, creating a soaring architectural profile while enabling unprecedented public access and movement along the water between Randolph and Lake Streets.

“This project will be a fantastic addition to downtown Chicago’s 42nd Ward,” said Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward). “Not only will it deliver a world-class commercial building for William Blair, but it will also cover unsightly railroad tracks with a beautiful 1.5 acre public park that promises rolling hills and ample green space. This project, combined with two projects currently underway to the north of the site, will deliver more than 4.5 acres of public open green space along the Chicago River. I am very proud of the public benefits associated with this project.”

When complete, 150 North Riverside will rise 53-stories and have approximately 1.2 million square feet of rentable space. The building will offer 12,000 square feet of on-site food service, a 7,000 square foot fitness center and a bike room with capacity for more than 100 bikes. The building, which will have a 100% green roof, has also received LEED-CS Gold pre-certification from the US Green Buildings Council.

“We are proud to join all of our project partners here today to break ground and begin the transformation of this long-vacant plot into a world-class architectural addition to the city’s riverfront,” John O’Donnell, principal of O’Donnell Investment Co. said.

Improvements along the Chicago River at 150 North Riverside include reconstruction and modernization of the site’s riverwall, upgraded traffic and pedestrian signals at several intersections outside the property, and the connection of the Riverside Plaza riverwalk, which extends north from Van Buren Street but currently terminates at Randolph Street. The Public Park and plaza areas will include a number of different seating and assembly zones, along with overlook points for enjoyment of the river, and feature 24/7 security, public restrooms and access to a range of onsite food and beverage options.

“William Blair & Company has been proud to call the City of Chicago home for nearly 80 years. Our people are our greatest assets, and our future home at 150 North Riverside will provide our employees with the technological resources and workspace they need to continue delivering exceptional service for our clients in the decades to come,” said John Ettelson, William Blair president and CEO.

150 North Riverside is one of 16 mid- and high-rise projects underway in Chicago’s Central Business District. In the first quarter of 2014, office vacancies in the Central Business District were at the lowest level in five years.

“This is a good project for the City with more than 1,500 construction jobs being created,” said Bob Reiter, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “I hope we will see this growth continue for months to come.”

Since 2011, the City and private developers have invested in 27 different projects along the river – a total of 7.1 miles of redevelopment that encompasses new plantings and riverbank improvements, new access points and construction on the Chicago River Boat House, Ping Tom Park, A. Montgomery Ward Park, the Addison Riverwalk, Main Branch Riverwalk and 150 North Riverside, among other projects. The City has invested over $189 million since 2011 on improvements along the Chicago River.

The plan for 150 North Riverside was approved by City Council earlier this year, along with the vacation of a public right-of-way on a portion of the two-acre site.



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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