Another West Town High Rise Tops Off

Sterling Bay and SOM have put yet another feather in Chicago’s West Town skyline. 345 North Morgan topped off recently at 11 floors.

Rendering of 345 North Morgan (Via Sterling Bay)
Rendering of 345 North Morgan (Via Sterling Bay)

Eleven levels isn’t all that much when it comes to Chicago construction, but being hard up against a set of Metra tracks and a block-and-a-half off of Fulton Market, 11 stories is pretty good for a piece of what is essentially urban infill.

Since this is a SOM design, we shouldn’t be surprised that mere “infill” has been elevated to elegant. Like many of its neighbors, it is reminiscent of the repurposed brick warehouses and soft lofts that have opened in the area recently. But 345 manages to be better. The renderings show it with lots of glass and natural light. The double-height archways of the first floor are repeated at the top of the building, below a rooftop event space. Instead of wide expanses of glass, we get more human-scale grouped panes. It could be a bank. It could be a bookstore. It could be anything, and that’s reason enough to like it. It is sophisticated without being stuffy.

About the only place this building falls down is at the lower level brick wall facing the train tracks. It’s punctured by a half-dozen uneventful windows, seemingly located at random. From the outside, it’s a branding opportunity missed. From the inside, seeing the passenger trains creep by (because at this point in the ride, they do indeed creep), would have injected energy and whimsy into the space in a way that few other things could.

To be sure, the gulf between renderings and reality is as wide as Upper Peoria Lake, and twice as ugly. But we have high hopes for this one, simply because of its pedigree.

Rendering of 345 North Morgan (Via Sterling Bay)
Rendering of 345 North Morgan (Via Sterling Bay)

Location: 345 North Morgan Street, West Town

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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