Getting to Know… 353 West Grand

Rendering of 353 West Grand

Last week, the details of the new skyscraper planned for 353 West Grand Avenue in River North were unveiled.  It’s a modestly tall 32-story tower that will replace the Clark & Barlow hardware store.

The plans provoked the usual NIMBY wailing of “My views! My views! My precious views!” but with a level of theater previously unseen in these public meetings.  One resident of the Sexton Lofts lofted her child in the air all Lion King-style and proclaimed an era of darkness will befall her if the tower is built.  Gee, thanks, mom.

For those of you who studied engineering instead of drama in school, we present the 353 West Grand firehose:

  • Developer: Onni Group, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Architect: Pappageorge Haymes
  • Landscape architect: Daniel Weinbach Partners
  • Address: 353 West Grand Avenue
  • Stories: 32
  • Maximum height: 368 feet
  • Height to top of podium: 54 feet
  • Retail space: ~15,000 square feet
  • Residences: 330
  • Residential parking: 206 spaces
  • Retail parking: 65 spaces
  • Loading docks: Two (one retail, one residential)
  • Loading dock access via alley off of North Orleans Street
  • Residential garage entrance: via West Grand Avenue
  • Retail garage entrance: via alley off of North Orleans Street
  • Residential entrance: via West Grand Avenue
  • Floor are ratio: 8.75
  • Studios and convertibles: 106
  • One-bedroom apartments: 60
  • Two-bedroom apartments: 110
  • Two-bedroom + den apartments: 52
  • Penthouses: 2
  • LEED Silver goal

Our intention with this project is to stitch the new tower into the vibrant fabric of the existing neighborhood.  Thus we suggest that the podium be clad in dark brick to match the scale and texture of the adjacent buildings.  These brick columns will be in-filled with large windows with gridded mullions echoing the warehouses that surround it.  We envision restaurants and other retailers at grade here creating a vibrant streetscape that brings safety to the pedestrian realm.  To match the character of the area we proposed to bring this gridded expression right to the corner with a bold simple design.

The tower itself is situated mid-block, to bring relief between other existing taller buildings surrounding it. As a mid-block building we feel that it is appropriate to bring a central focus to the tower with light colored vertical columns bringing focus to the street oriented lobby.  This central element is flanked by glass columns of the penthouse units.  The vertical elements continue beyond the roof, accentuating the tower’s verticality.  The stepped roof is influenced by Chicago’s historical tower form.

The roof of the podium is the outdoor amenity for the building.  The landscape here has been refined to bring the active use such as swimming pool as far away from the existing building to the south as possible.  High planting, trellises and trees will further obstruct neighbors from any disruptions.  At the tower this level is set back creating a visual break between tower an podium.

Location: 353 West Grand, River North

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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