West Town Welcomes Our Robotic Parking Overlords

It’s with a small tear of sadness that we bid farewell to the collection of centenarian commercial buildings about to be erased from 723 through 733 West Randolph Street in West Town.  Heneghan Wrecking is about to do a number on them.

Chocolate box assortments of brick and timber such as these are not uncommon in Chicago, but they are fairly rare to find in such a vibrant retail corridor.  You would think that the prime location would assure their continued service to the public, but alas they are not long for this world, as the photographs sent in by West Town Spy Justin show us.

Demolition at 725 West Randolph (Courtesy of West Town Spy Justin)

Demolition at 725 West Randolph (Courtesy of West Town Spy Justin)

So, what’s coming to this part of downtown Chicago at the corner of Restaurant Row and the Kennedy Expressway?  We did some digging, and were surprised to see that the most recent plan we could find for 725 West Randolph is still the one with the robot parking podium.

725 West Randolph. Image courtesy of Easy Park Development.

725 West Randolph. Image courtesy of Easy Park Development.

The 31-story residential tower designed by friends-of-the-blog smdp (we got to get together again soon, guys) isn’t the tallest thing proposed for the shoulder of I-90/94.  But it is the only one where residents get to drive their car into a giant reverse vending machine when they get home from work at night.

The idea is that by implementing a rack-and-stack parking scheme for 260 cars, the building’s podium can be reduced in size.  Or as smdp puts it:

This system is incredibly user-friendly and eliminates the volumetric need of large podiums. It will also allow for the future increase in density and vitality of Chicago by the ability to effectively utilize smaller sites.

“Volumetric” is architect-speak for “Seriously, you’ve REALLY got to make sure you unbuckle little M’addysin from her car seat when you get back from baby yoga, or you’re gonna have to pay for 16 years of therapy.”

Chicago has a long history with mechanical vertical parking, going back at least to 1926’s 35 East Wacker, the former Jewelers Building, where jewelers would drive their cars into an elevator and up to their offices in order to keep their treasures safe from bandits.  And you thought “carjacking” started in the 80’s.


Location: 725 West Randolph Street, West Town

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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