Plans Filed For Soaring Cathedral District Skyscraper, and Holy Name is it Big

For the third time in recent years, an underutilized Chicago Roman Catholic church parking lot will be replaced by a skyscraper.  This time, it’s across the street from Holy Name Cathedral; and as would seem appropriate for the parking lot of the archbishop, this thing is huge.

Diagram of Holy Name Tower

“Seventy-six stories!” is what the headlines have been crying all day since the plans were filed with the city for what we’re going to call Holy Name Tower until we hear differently.  But that doesn’t really give you an idea of how much sky this building will scrape.  We’re talking 1,011 feet and two inches!  That would make it the fifth-tallest building in the city, behind the John Hancock Center, Aon Center, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and the Willis Tower.

The project, designed by Goettsch Partners and Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture for JDL Development,  is actually two towers. There’s also a 45-story, 583-foot-tall building sharing the nine-story podium.

X marks the spot of the future skyscraper that will not be called the Holy Name Tower.  But if it was, would be worth one indulgence. (Base via Apple Maps)

X marks the spot of the future skyscraper that will not be called the Holy Name Tower. But if it was, would be worth one indulgence. (Base via Apple Maps)

What this means is that Holy Name Cathedral, with its prominent nave and asymmetrical belltower will get another building with a prominent mass and asymmetrical tower staring right back at it across the street.

Much to everyone’s relief, the goal in this design was lighter, thinner, taller; not fatter, blockier, podium-ier.    But it remains to be seen if that will appease local NIMBY groups, who will weigh in even if this is not their territory.

It’s been a while since NIMBYs have had a fight this tall on their hands.  The last one was a notion from Symmetry Development for  a 725-foot-tall building on the back side of Holy Name.  And earlier in this century, the 730-foot-tall Canyon Point got smacked down.  It was to be built two blocks away at the location of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago headquarters at 71 East Huron Street.

Hopefully 12 setbacks on the main tower will assuage fears that this building will suck up all of the available light and air.  But the real problem is going to be predicting whose view it will ruin.  42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly is famous for repeating that views are not protected in Chicago, and that your view could be ruined, just like your home ruined someone else’s view.  But this is the Gold Coast, where people wear robes to work not because they’re underwear models, but because they’re judges.  And justices.  And the sort of neighbors that go along with that kind of social scene.  People who are used to getting their way, one way or another.

On a positive note, if you’re used to wandering over to Bella Luna Cafe for a romantic pizza dinner for two after church on Saturday nights, that building is staying.  JDL is building around it. (Shout out to Father Smolka!)

Without further ado, here’s the firehose:

  • Address: 1 West Chicago Avenue
  • Address: 2 West Superior Street
  • Address: 733 North Dearborn Street
  • Address: 728 North State Street
  • Developer: JDL
  • Architecture firm: Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture
  • Architecture firm: Goettsch Partners
  • Floors: 76
  • Height: 1,011 feet, two inches
  • Width: 357 feet, one inch
  • Length: 278 feet
  • Net site area: 96,218 square feet
  • Floor Area Ratio: 12.0 base + 6.4 bonus
  • Residences: 914
  • Affordable housing: JDL will build 91 affordable housing units within two miles
  • Retail space: 200,000 square feet
  • Office space: 45,000 square feet
  • Maximum automobile parking: 659 spaces
  • Parking garage entrance: Off North Dearborn Street
  • Parking garage exit: Off North Dearborn Street
  • Office lobby auto access: Via both North Dearborn Street and West Superior Street
  • 76-story tower residential lobby access: Off West Superior Street
  • 45-story tower residential lobby access: Off West Chicago Avenue
  • Loading docks: Five
  • Green roof alert: 24,875 square feet

Location: 1 West Chicago Avenue, Gold Coast

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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