CTA to Wicker Park Building: No Fat Bricks

Losing weight is hard.  If it was easy, there wouldn’t be an entire industry built around it.  But you can’t just call up Weight Watchers and ask Marie Osmond to help you knock a few pounds off an overweight building.

Rendering of Alcove Wicker Park
Rendering of Alcove Wicker Park

That was the dilemma faced by Vermillion Wicker Park LLC recently when it got a letter in the mail from the Chicago Transit Authority.  Some smart people did the math and figured out that the seven-story Alcove Wicker Park that Vermillion wants to put up at 1648 West Division Street is too heavy for the CTA Blue Line tunnel that runs under part of the property.

The solution that River North’s Hirsch MPG Architecture + Planning came up with involved an additional beam, less parking, and a lighter material for a portion of the facade.

May 2020 diagram of Alcove Wicker Park
May 2020 diagram of Alcove Wicker Park

In order to reduce the weight of the north wall, on the NE and NW elevations, the garage wall will be clad in lighter, fiber cement panels rather than brick.  Also, the brick SW garage wall will be replaced with painted, sealed concrete for the entirelength [SIC] of the proposed adjacent construction, with a fiber cement return for the exposed portion.

Letter from Department of Planning and Development to Hirsch MPG Architects + Planning, May 11, 2020

A 16-foot-tall beam will be used in the cantilever, and 11 of the building’s 40 parking spaces go away.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that a new building has had to act like a flamingo because of underground mass transit.  Back in 2015 we told you about how SCB’s 27-story 4 East Elm has to do a bit of yoga because the CTA Red Line clips a corner of its property.

Location: 1648 West Division Street, Wicker Park

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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