Five years ago, if you looked at a map of Streeterville and thought that there wasn’t any place left in the neighborhood for a really dramatic skyline-busting residential tower, a lot of people would have nodded in agreement. But that was before Related Midwest took the vacant lot behind its ward, 500 Lake Shore Drive, and paired it with the under-realized park next door to redefine the core of this quarter of Chicago.
One Bennett Park is the product of that vision — a 70-story Lake Michigan lighthouse that embraces classical style without feeling contrived, and adds to the Streeterville neighborhood through its stately styling above, and the rehabilitation of Bennett Park below.
The building’s design came out of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the first New York architecture firm other than SOM to alter Chicago’s skyline in a long time.
Its Gotham pedigree is visible from the get-go, standing out in a forest of recent local designs that all seem distilled from the same value engineering formula. But this New Yorker is downtown, not Broadway. Clearly it’s here to work with the other buildings of Chicago to add to the Windy City’s architectural menagerie. The fact that it stands taller than its neighbors is largely because it wears a fancier hat.
The ground floor is on the ground, and contains individual double-height lobbies serving 279 apartments and 69 condominiums. The condo side of things also connects to a private motor court with complimentary valet service, so not only do you not have to ride CTA, you don’t even have to park your own car.
The third and fourth floors are amenity space. The fourth floor also contains apartments, which run up to the 39th floor with 279 units. There are more amenities on 41, which is also where the condos start, then continue up to 66.
The condos begin where most Chicago condos max out: at two bedrooms for two million dollars. They run up to four bedrooms at a price that made by TRS-80 start to smolder.
Stand-out features include a children’s play room, a tween room, and a 60-foot pool in a city where skyscraper “pools” are often dwarfed by grandmother’s stock pot.
But the best amenity is the 1.7 acre park immediately adjacent. It’s been re-done by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Based on its work with Maggie Daley Park and The 606, this should be one mean green.
The park opens to the public this summer, which is good news. But there is a line in the press release about this park that is worrying: “Residents will have 24-hour access to Bennett Park.” Does this mean that the public will be kicked out after Chicago Park District hours? Will toddlers be turned away because their diapers came from the wrong ZIP code? Will there be security guards checking ID’s to make sure the plebs don’t scrunch their toes in the dew of the early morning grass before 1 Bennett Park people can throw down their yoga mats? Inquiring minds want to know.