Don’t Rock the Boat in Streeterville

There’s a lot going on at 320 East Huron Street. A lot of banging. A lot of hammering. The pounding of foundations, and the little earthquakes of trucks large and small. But all this shake, rattle, and roll is for one reason: to make things as quiet, and placid as possible.

Northwestern University's Biomedical Research Tower under construction (Courtesy of Dr. Robert Vogelzang)

Northwestern University’s Biomedical Research Tower under construction (Courtesy of Dr. Robert Vogelzang)

This is where the foundations are being put in for MRC2, also known as Northwestern University’s Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center.

Back when this building was just a gleam in Big Purple’s eye, we told you about one of its more unusual planned attributes: vibration mitigation. As Doctor Robert Vogelzang reminded us when he injected these photos into our tip line, the building is designed to have zero sway or movement, so that the medical and research equipment inside can take super-sensitive measurements that might otherwise be ruined by a passing double-decker bus, or any of the other random and very loud things that happen downtown.

All that hard work will be put to the test one day when Northwestern decides to do something with the fenced-off ┬árabbit sanctuary across the street. Because if anything bigger than a food truck is going to make its home there, you can bet it’ll need some stout foundations.

Right now, MRC2 is in phase one of its life, which means 600,000 square feet of space across nine floors. And like a number of downtown buildings, Perkins+Will designed it to have a second, more vertical, life. That’s phase two, which will be a 1.2 million square foot, 16-floor tower addition.

Location: 320 East Huron Street, Streeterville

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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