You Get a Skyscraper! And You Get a Skyscraper!

You get a new skyscraper!

In its most Oprah-riffic maneuver since the great Skyscraper-palooza of 2014, the Chicago Plan Commission approved a slew of new skyscrapers for the Windy City.

In a series of votes today, the commission approved plans for 18 new towers for downtown Chicago.  To put that into a completely inaccurate and meaningless comparison, it’s like Chicago just got Indianapolis added to its skyscraper menagerie.

Rendering of 700 at the River

Rendering of 700 at the River

700 at the River

The Plan Commission approved Tribune Media’s master plan which would build more than a dozen new buildings along the north branch of the Chicago River, between Chicago and Grand Avenues.

Right now, the $2.5 billion project is penciled in with at least 12 new skyscrapers, plus a couple of other mid-rise buildings.  Naturally, this plan will evolve over the next decade, but the commission did OK the first phase of the project, which includes four buildings south of the Ohio Street feeder.

All four are residential buildings, with two of them skyscrapers.  Those are positioned next to the river.  The two smaller buildings will be 124, and 152 feet tall; the taller will be 378 and 508 feet tall.

Altogether, there will be 1,500 new homes, plus a new riverfront park. Another 3,600 homes are expected to be built in the subsequent phases.

Rendering of Tower O (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Rendering of Tower O (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Building O

After years of speculation, and several revisions, bKL Architecture’s Building O at Lakeshore East is finally going to become a thing.  The home and hospitality package will slot in to the empty space between Aqua and 300 East Randolph Street.

The top of the building will contain 640 new homes, while the bottom welcomes 570 hotel rooms.

August 2018 rendering of Lakeshore East (Courtesy of Magellan Development)

August 2018 rendering of Lakeshore East (Courtesy of Magellan Development)

Buildings I, J, and KL

The final piece of the Lakeshore East puzzle is also the most conspicuous.  Destined for the southwest corner of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, Building I, Building J, and Building KL are also bKL joints.  They will welcome mariners to the city, and be the stars of many an Instagram post in the future.

The maximum height for the $1.1 billion trio is 950 feet, with 1,700 new residences for downtown Chicago’s New East Side.

Rendering of 444 North Dearborn (via the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly)

Rendering of 444 North Dearborn (via the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly)

444 North Dearborn

Down the street, the brutal and brutalist old Engine Company 42 fire station is going bye-bye.  It was state-of-the-art when it opened in 1969, but half a century later is considered state-of-the-arc.

In its place will rise a 455-foot-tall office building, with a brand new Engine Company 42 fire station at its foot.

Rendering of the September 2018 Union Station redevelopment

Rendering of the September 2018 Union Station redevelopment

Union Station redevelopment

Finally, one of the city’s more venerable buildings is getting a new neighbor, and a hat.

The Union Station head house will have one story added to it, in order to make enough room for the building to house a new 400-room hotel.

Across the street, a 715-foot-tall office tower will rise over a 400-space underground (!) parking garage, and attached public park.

Technically the Chicago City Council still has to vote on all of these projects, but if you’ve been reading this publication for the last 16 years, you know all of this is a fait accompli.


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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  1. Why can’t we have a third of the buildings that are three times as tall?

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  2. Build the tallest building in the world on Goose Island!

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