Construction Update
Just Out of the Ground and Already the Vista Tower is Bracing for Chicago Wind

One day way back in 2003 we wandered up on East Upper Randolph Street and gazed down at a lone bulldozer grading the warm brown earth that once was an urban golf course into the gentle slopes that would one day characterize Chicago’s Lakeshore East development.  The construction work hasn’t stopped since.

Though we’re 14 years into this blog writing about Lakeshore East, and almost 48 years since it was first envisioned by the Illinois Central Railroad, there’s still plenty of work to be done, as evidenced by the photo sent in recently by Loop Spy Joel.

The Vista Tower under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Joel)

The Vista Tower under construction (Courtesy of Loop Spy Joel)

It shows the progress thus far at the Vista Tower, the Studio Gang/bKL joint that will be the third-tallest building in Chicago before you know it, and potentially fifth-tallest in the nation.

According to bKL, what you see there is the west core and its shear walls.  Remember, the Vista Tower straddles North Field Boulevard, so like an apple harvested near Fukushima, Japan, it has dual cores.

Wanda Vista Tower model (Courtesy of Loop Spy Daniel)

Wanda Vista Tower model (Courtesy of Loop Spy Daniel)

We’re not architects, so we’ll let Wikipedia explain the whole shear wall thing for those of you who are also not architects:

In structural engineering, a shear wall is a structural system composed of braced panels (also known as shear panels) to counter the effects of lateral load acting on a structure. Wind and seismic loads are the most common loads that shear walls are designed to carry.

While we haven’t experienced anything seismic in Chicago since the cancellation of the Oprah Winfrey Show, we have spent a terrifying night or two a half a block away watching Mini Cooper-sized sheets of ice blow off the facade of The Chandler and bash themselves into a million pieces on our windows at The Shoreham.  So, we’re going to guess it’s the whole wind thing that those walls are being built for.

Location: 375 East Wacker Drive, The Loop

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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