Plan For 113-Story Magnificent Mile Skyscraper Hits City Hall

A new 1,400-foot-tall skyscraper slated for the Magnificent Mile has taken a big step forward on the shiny glass road from fantasy to fantastic. Plans for Tribune Tower East have officially been filled with the city. 

The building will have 113 floors of hotel rooms, apartments, and condos; and climb 1,442 feet into the sky.  This is Chicago, so there are six floors of above-grade parking. (Insert your own sad trombone sound here.)

It was designed by Streeterville’s SCB and The Loop’s AS+GG for Los Angeles developer CIM Group and Streeterville developer Golub.  If you have a pulse, you’ve seen buildings by each of these firms in Chicago and elsewhere.

Trib East will have 564 new homes — 125 condominiums and 439 apartments.  The way we read the paperwork it looks like the developers will satisfy their affordable housing obligation by paying the city $8,850,228, and setting aside 11 apartments for people making less than 60% of the region’s median income.  But we’re not lawyers, so don’t start tying your bindle to a stick just because we said so.

The zoning for this is interesting for density junkies.  Its total FAR seems an impossibly low 15.31 for a 1,442-foot-tall building.  This is because the project covers three pieces of land.  The existing Tribune Tower, with its printing plant extension and WGN-TV addition has a base FAR of 8.47.  The portion of Pioneer Plaza just to the south of Trib Tower has a base FAR of 1.83. And then the main event has a base FAR of… wait for it… 30.99.  Add to that the 3.31 bonus FAR for writing checks to the city’s Neighborhoods Opportunity Fund, the Adopt-a-Landmark Fund, and the Local Impact Fund, and you get a tower that doesn’t just scrape the sky, it’s going to give a low-flying angel a corduroy pants thigh rash.

The Chicago Tribune sign on the former printing plant-turned-newsroom.
The Chicago Tribune sign on the former printing plant-turned-newsroom. (File)

Early in the discussions about this project, there were concerns raised about how the former printing plant-turned-newsroom portion of the building would be treated. Much of it is being converted into residences, which is OK with most people.  The real concern was about the “Chicago Tribune” sign which overlooks Pioneer Plaza.   If the current plan for Trib East is approved as-is, the developer will be required to “preserve and maintain the existing ‘Chicago Tribune’ letters as an architectural artifact.”  The sign will be taken down during construction, but the developer is required to fix it up.  

Prior to reinstallation, the original letters will be restored with an integrated lighting element that traces the back edge outline of the original letters with a ribbon of light.  This lighting element preserves the historical and architectural significance of the original letters.  The restored letters shall be reinstalled and mounted on a new trellis structure on the new 7th level amenity terrace providing south views looking below and through the “Chicago Tribune” letters

We get a melancholy feeling when we realize that because this preservation is codified, the sign will live on long after the Chciago Tribune becomes a memory and is purged from Google like the rest of our collective history.

  • Address: 421-451 North Michigan Avenue
  • Address: 137-209 East Illinois Street
  • Address: 458-478 North Cityfront Plaza Drive
  • Developer: Tribune Tower East (Chicago) Owner, LLC
  • For realsies: CIM Group and Golub
  • Architecture firm: Solomon Cordwell Buenz
  • Architecture firm: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
  • Zoning: DX-16 and DX-12 → DX-12 → Residential Business Planned Development
  • Site area: 132,241 square feet
  • Size: 2,024,500 square feet
  • Floor area ratio: 15.31 (12 base + 3.31 bonus)
  • Residences: 564
    • Apartments: 439
    • Condominiums: 125
  • Hotel rooms: 200
  • Stacking
    • 112-113: Mechanical
    • 72-111: Condominiums
    • 26-71: Apartments
    • 9-25: Hotel
    • 8: Mechanical
    • 2-7: Parking
    • 1: Lobbies
    • B1: Back-of-house
    • B2: Mechanical
  • Automobile parking: 687 spaces
    • Trib Tower parking spaces: 261
    • Trib Tower East parking spaces: 426
  • Loading docks: 9
  • Trib Tower loading docks: 3
  • Trib Tower East loading docks: 5
  • Pioneer Plaza loading docks: 1

Location: 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive, Streeterville

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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