Unless you watch House Hunters on HGTV, Chicago’s midrise residential buildings don’t get a lot of love. The internet is full of people yammering about the latest fictional skyscraper that some mouth-breathing high school student created with SketchUp in his parents’ basement and is trying to pass off as a real project. But at the same time, there are dozens, even hundreds, of wonderful new buildings under 10-stories-tall that don’t get nearly the attention, even though they’re real, built, and quite well done.
Alex Gilbert of the Ranquist Development Group sent over pictures and specs about his company’s latest downtown creation: 747 North Clark. In his words:
Site — A 40’ X 100’ inner-city lot in the upper-scale River North neighborhood. The property is bordered by the street on the West, an alley on the East, and two-story commercial buildings on the North and South.
Exterior — Clean lines and a palette of industrial materials give this project at 747 North Clark an authentic, urban feel. In line with the modernist roots of Chicago’s architectural heritage, steel and glass are the principle facade materials. To that restrained paring is added a charred oak entry door, hot-rolled steel siding and natural finish wood ceiling. A bold splash of color marks the lobby and draws you in to this new icon of the River North neighborhood.
Interior — Each condominium is arranged on its own floor, with private in-unit elevator access. Full-length windows cover the entire West side of the homes, allowing for a large amount of natural light. Custom finishes, including imported Italian cabinetry, complete the seamless interior and contrast nicely with the visually raw materials on the building’s exterior. All units are between 2,000 –2,580 square feet, and include private balconies and/or private terraces.
Organization — 747 North Clark is a refined, yet industrial home for the urban, working family. The upper-scale, open-plan designs allow for extreme comfort and seamlessness between working and living.
- Design architect: Miller Hull Partnership, Seattle
- Project architect: Sullivan Goulette & Wilson, Chicago
- Developer: Ranquist Development Group
- General contractor: Maris Construction
- Structural engineer: SP Engineers
Update — Friday, July 25, 2014
I received an e-mail response to some questions I posed about this project from Brian Court, a principal at The Miller Hull Partnership in Seattle, which designed this building.
Q: When was the building built?
A: Construction began in the spring of 2013 and was complete a year later in 2014.
Q: With all the exposed steel beams and glass, it seems to be combining the neighborhood’s industrial past with the glassy skyscrapers of the future. Was that the intent?
A: Yes, we knew from the outset that this building should honor the rich heritage of the glass and steel Chicago modernism. Lake Shore Drive and the Hancock Building were particularly influential. Beyond the architectural influences, the industrial character of the neighborhood helped justify the expression of structural steel shapes and exposed fasteners.
Q: What makes it different from other similar developments in the area.
A: The project is actually a total redesign/renovation of stalled pre-recession construction project. The original developer was forced to abandon the project just after topping out the steel frame, where upon the building sat vacant for a number of years until Ranquist Development saw the potential and acquired the unfinished building.
Q: Were there any unexpected challenges?
A: There were quite a few challenges related to the fact that the building sat vacant for so long and bringing it up to current codes required substantial rework.
Q: What did you learn from this building that you can put in future projects?
A: This was our first renovation of an urban mid-rise project and we are excited about the design potential for this project type. With the building stock in American cities ageing quickly and energy efficiency becoming increasingly important we see a real opportunity in the renovation and redesign of urban infill buildings.
All photographs by Marty Peters, courtesy of Ranquist Development Group