Chicago Skyscraper Developers Adjust to Work-From-Home Era

We love working from home the way a Sox fan loves a bar fight.  But not everyone has the luxury of a private balcony from which they can watch a hawk disassemble a pigeon on the roof of the Bankers Building during a Zoom meeting.

Some Chicago developers are making changes to their buildings in order to make them more attractive to those who find themselves suddenly without offices or classrooms.

The latest is NEMA Chicago, the 76-story Rafael Viñoly-designed building on the southern border of Grant Park.  Its 48th floor amenity level was expected to be kitted out with a yoga studio once the building was complete.  But between groundbreaking and occupancy permit, COVID happened.  So level 48 is now sports six work-from-home suites available to NEMA’s residents.  These join the 16th floor work-from-home zone, known as CoWork.  

NEMA Chicago's 16th floor coworking space called CoWork (Courtesy of McHugh Construction)
NEMA Chicago’s 16th floor coworking space called CoWork (Courtesy of McHugh Construction)

NEMA caught a break on this one.  By leaving the 48th floor undone until the end of the project, McHugh Construction had a blank box to do its thing in, rather than having to retrofit an already built-out space.

Guidepost Montessori at Optima Signature (Courtesy of Optima)
Guidepost Montessori at Optima Signature (Courtesy of Optima)

Also on board with the everything-from-home trend is north suburban developer Optima.  We recently told you about how it added learn-from-home pods to its Optima Signature tower at 220 East Illinois Street in Streeterville.   Now that building has picked up an entire in-house elementary school.

Guidepost Montessori is a 14,000-square-foot school for grades one through six, and also offers preschool services.  The school was designed for 80 students, but is operating at a reduced capacity for obvious reasons.  

Author: Editor

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

Share This Post On