The Top 10 Chicago Architecture Stories of 2015

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The Wanda Vista Tower, Wolf Point South, Riverline, the Lucas Museum, and the Ibero-American Tower were among the stories that our readers found most interesting in 2015.

If there’s one thing that newsrooms hate, it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  Hardly anything ever happens.  Lots of people are on vacation.  Many businesses are closed.  And for the most part, the world behaves itself.  That’s why year-in-review pieces are so popular right about now.

In light of that, here is our year-in-review piece: A list of the most viewed Chicago Architecture stories of 2015.  As determined by you, our loyal readers, who viewed articles on this web site several million times this year.

1. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Wanda Vista Tower* — Our biggest firehose of the year spilled the beans and more on the Wanda Vista Tower’s very complex plans not only for erecting a massive skyscraper on the Chicago River, but for transforming the Lakeshore East community.

2. New Design For Wolf Point South, West Towers — Now With 53% More Awesome* — With Wolf Point West rapidly approaching completion, our readers are salivating over the possibilities of the next two elements in the three-tower skyscraper celebration.  Subtle design changes were leaked when the Wolf Point web site was updated, and people loved them.

3. Chicago’s Newest Development is Officially a Thing: Riverline — For a generation, people have gazed at the expanse of weedy nothingness south of Harrison Street in the South Loop and wondered how such a huge, prime piece of land could be allowed to go fallow.  Then Perkins+Will sent over high resolution renderings of the multi-tower, multi-multi-townhome future of the space.  While our readers longed for more vertical development, for the most part they were just happy that something was happening there.

4. Lend Lease and CMK Plow Ahead With Ambitious 5-Tower South Loop Plan — When River North partnered with Down Under to turn a chunk of downtown Chicago from a massive dog toilet into a new master-planned community, it was the best thing since Betty White (used in this reference because she is actually older than sliced bread).

5. Eviscerating the Tauntaun: Inside the Proposed Lucas Museum* — George Lucas’ plans for a new museum on the lakefront are still tied up in court.  And while every other news source in Chicago burped out the same old renderings and press release quotes, we decided to take you inside the Lucas Museum before it was even built: Presenting the diagrams of the building, inside and out, so you can  understand what is really planned for the project, instead of trying to sort through the hyperbole.

6. A Field Guide To Chicago NIMBYs* — Chicago’s NIMBYs hit a new low this year when one of them actually spat at someone presenting a new building at a public meeting.  If you spit on a guard in prison, you spend time in the hole.  These days you never know who has the latest designer disease from Thirdworldistan.  So to keep you safe, we penned A Field Guide to NIMBYs to help you recognize which ones are more batshit crazy than the others, and thus potential loogie launchers.

7. Come Say Hello to Wanda — With the Wanda Vista Tower still tagged “too good to be true” in the minds of many, a chance to hear the developers gush about the project at a public meeting was just what the people wanted.

8. “Ambicioso” Plan Unveiled for Landmark Downtown Museum Complex — Buildings are like supermodels. The more beautiful they are, the less you believe they’re real.  That’s part of the reason for the fascination our readers had with the Ibero-American Tower proposed for River North.  It’s a visual marvel.  Unfortunately, it was unveiled to the public at the Chicago Latino Film Festival and not at an aldermanic event, so most of our readers are resigned to think of it as eye candy.

9. Build an 82-Story Building in Chicago by 2017? Good Luck With That — Also out of Latin America was a proposal by a Mexican company to put up an 82-story hotel tower lickedy-split.  It’s not unusual for out-of-town developers to announce plans based on timelines that would be realistic in their home territories, but are folly in Chicago. While we still think this building has a chance of becoming reality, we don’t think it will happen on the 2017 timeline unless construction began six months ago and nobody noticed.

10. Four New Skyscrapers About to Sprout in Near North — 2015 was a super busy year for new construction north of the river, and at one time there were four skyscrapers on the docket at the Chicago Plan Commission.  A first in recent memory.

So there you have the ten most popular stories of 2015.  2016 looks like it’s going to be a big year, too.  If you’d like to help support our mission to bring you a 13th year of downtown Chicago development news, then consider purchasing a poster or print of your favorite Chicago building from our new web store at  The money from each sale goes directly to keeping the web site running, and our writers caffeinated for another year.

* Stories marked with an asterisk were brought to you either first, or exclusively by us.  Unlike most other “news” web sites in the city, at Chicago Architecture we strive to bring you original reports all year long.

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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