Newberry Library Getting a 34-Story Bookend

For the last 16 years, we’ve gloated every time a surface parking lot was erased from downtown Chicago.  Now it looks like a parking garage is about to meet that Great Urban Planner in the Sky, and we’re not sure how to feel about it.

October 2019 rendering of 40 West Oak Street
October 2019 rendering of 40 West Oak Street

The garage in question serves the Warren Barr Pavilion, the mostly anonymous nursing home with the tony address of 66 West Oak Street in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood.  New York’s Nahla Capital wants to axe the garage and put up a 34-story skyscraper on the site at 40 West Oak Street, just a block north of Bughouse Square.

Naturally, Crain’s had the scoopage on this last month, but the public didn’t get the full scope of the proposal until a couple of days ago when there was a meeting hosted by Second Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins and the River North Residents Association.

October 2019 rendering of 40 West Oak Street
October 2019 rendering of 40 West Oak Street

The Lucien Lagrange-designed tower would have just 90 homes, but 160 parking spaces, some of which would be shared with the residents of the Warren Barr Pavilion to replace their lost spaces.

Nahla has developments in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  This is its first project in Chicago.  It has earned a lot of press recently for its plans for the famous Amoeba Records Building on the Sunset Strip in L.A.  It is either trying to save or destroy the record store, depending on the length of your hair and memory.

While the new building at 40 West Oak Street in Chicago would look over the Newberry Library, it probably won’t do much visual harm.  People fretted about 30 West Oak across the street, but that turned out to be much ado about nothing. The only time most people will notice 40 is once a year when they stumble, arms overloaded, out of Newberry’s back door after its annual book sale.  (PSA: Books are awesome. Go read one.)

Location: 40 West Oak Street, Near North

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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