Our Chicago Neverbuilt series continues to celebrate the work of great architects that, for one reason or another, failed to make the transition from imagination to reality.
It was the 19th-century writer William Edward Hickson who popularized the proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed / Try, try, try again.” It was the über-creepy Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd from the film Diamonds Are Forever who ruined the phrase as they dumped James Bond into a concrete pipe and buried him in the Mojave Desert.
The people over at GREC Architects are apparently fans of the proverb as well, because it turns out they pounded at the 151 North Franklin nut no fewer than four times.
You will remember 151 North Franklin as the alter ego of 222 West Randolph, featured in our article Chicago Neverbuilt — Episode 6. In that article we profiled the tower that friends-of-the-blog Goettsch Partners designed for that site. The John Buck Company decided to go in another direction. The direction was GREC.
GREC worked for five years putting together plans for that corner of the northwest Loop. Four tower designs came out of the process. But none of them were selected. The John Buck Company ended up turning to John Ronan to design the latest iteration, and word on the street is that Buck is one large tenant short of a fall groundbreaking.
But five years is a lot of time and a lot of money and effort to put into a neverbuilt building. So here we present all four GREC designs so that you can enjoy them, understand the architects’ inspiration and process, and hopefully they’ll live on in internet posterity.
All images courtesy GREC Architects
Tower A would have been 40 stories tall, with 600 parking spaces and 1,500,000 square feet of space. GREC describes it thusly:
This building design utilizes the full length of a block in the heart of Chicago’s Loop. The building mass is articulated to maximize local and area views and to provide multiple corner offices, while the floor plate offers optimal core-to-wall lease depths. Vertical transportation is configured in three zones, and the capacious parking structure occupies six levels above the lobby. The building is set back 20’ from the property line along the major street frontage, affording a generous landscaped plaza experience, fronted by the 40’ high lobby/winter garden.
Tower B was a smaller proposal, with just 30 floors and 1,100,000 square feet of space and 400 parking spaces.
This building design is an homage to the tradition of minimal modernism in the heart of Chicago’s Loop. Vertical transportation is configured in two zones, and the building’s floor plate offers optimal core-to-wall lease depths. Multiple-story atriums are located throughout the height of the tower to offer unique tenant amenities. The parking structure occupies five levels above the lobby, screened by full-height landscaped atriums. The lobby/winter garden enclosure is set back from the tower to offer a continuous colonnade to the street level experience.
The Energy Trading Tower would have been 53 stories and 1,600,000 square feet of space.
This commercial office tower is designed to accommodate the U.S. energy commodities trading operations of British Petroleum. Two levels of free-span structure house trading operations, with an interstitial mechanical level with dedicated redundant building and data systems. Above this trading zone are 40 floors of office tenant lease space. Below are 6 levels of parking for more than 1,000 vehicles. The lobby and mezzanine levels feature extensive interior landscaping and tenant amenity spaces.
Randolph Plaza would have been 40-stories tall with parking for 400 vehicles and one million square feet of space.
Located in the heart of Chicago’s Loop, this state-of-the-art office tower is designed for LEED Platinum certification, employing innovative systems to harvest and re-use storm water and waste water; to generate energy on-site through the use of fuel cells; and to optimize energy savings through the capture of process heat. Vertical transportation is configured in two zones, and the building’s floor plate offers optimal core-to-wall lease depths. A multiple-story atrium is located at the transfer level, and building setbacks provide unique outdoor tenant amenities. The 40-foot height lobby and winter garden include the installation of public art. The parking structure occupies four levels above the lobby