Chicago’s Theater District Gets a New Hotel
Oct30

Chicago’s Theater District Gets a New Hotel

The transformation of the tower above the Oriental Theater in The Loop is finally complete.  The building has been renovated from offices into a new boutique hotel. There were several plans floated for the building in the last few years, as downtown has started bulging with new tourists, residents, and students.  Everything from a condo conversion to student housing was on the table at one time or another.  But Murphy Development...

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$Half-Billion Willis Tower Expansion Imminent
Oct10

$Half-Billion Willis Tower Expansion Imminent

Chicago’s tallest building is about to get its biggest upgrade in years. The City has approved construction permits for a half-billion dollar reconstruction of the lower levels of Willis Tower (233 South Wacker Drive).  Altogether, six floors of the building will be re-done, with half of those being below grade.  The tower’s perimeter will be extended all the way out to the sidewalk, thanks to a three-story glass and steel...

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GEMS Second Building in Lakeshore East Gets Cut in Half
Sep26

GEMS Second Building in Lakeshore East Gets Cut in Half

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like the GEMS Academy’s current schoolhouse on East South Water Street for grades one through four.  The bKL-designed institution fits in well with its neighboring buildings, actively respects the highly-curated slice of nature across the street, and fills in an infrastructure gap that was open for too long. As we reported back in July, construction is underway on the second GEMS...

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Residential Tower May Be On Tap For Former Mandarin Oriental Space
Sep26

Residential Tower May Be On Tap For Former Mandarin Oriental Space

Eleven years after the Chicago architecture world was dazzled by SBC’s design for a Mandarin Oriental hotel tower just behind Michigan Plaza, there are signs once again that something might be happening there. It was 2006 that plans were revealed for a 74-story, 900-foot-tall building that would house 250 hotel rooms, 150 luxury condominiums, and 100 über-luxe palaces in the sky branded as The Mandarin Oriental Residences. When...

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New CTA Washington/Wabash Station Gets Raves on Debut Weekend
Sep05

New CTA Washington/Wabash Station Gets Raves on Debut Weekend

The Chicago Transit Authority’s new Washington/Wabash L Station racked up oodles of likes, plus one’s, and shares over its inaugural weekend.  And that was in real life.  Social media folk liked it, too. In its first few hours of operation, reactions from the crowds of travelers eager to get a whiff of that new train station smell ranged from a star-struck “Oh, shiny!” to a fully suburban “Awesome!”...

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Another Vintage Loop Office Building Goes Residential, Gets Taller
Aug28

Another Vintage Loop Office Building Goes Residential, Gets Taller

Almost exactly a year after Crain’s Chicago Business speculated it might happen, the Insurance Center Building (330 South Wells Street) is flipping from office to residential use. The 16-story building was purchased a year ago by a unit of Marc Capital Realty for $10 million.  But it won’t stay 16-stories for long. The City of Chicago has approved plans to add a 17th floor onto the building.  This will serve as common...

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Vista Tower Comes Into View
Aug23

Vista Tower Comes Into View

The Vista Tower (363 East Wacker Drive) — one of Chicago’s near-future showcase pieces — is rising quickly along the main branch of the Chicago River.  So quickly that it’s already visible to passing tour boats. These pictures from Joe Zekas at YoChicago! show not only the Studio Gang-designed building going up, but also the column-free area in the center, where East Upper Wacker Drive will finally be connected to North...

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Pics and Video of the University Club’s Michigan Avenue Expansion
Aug22

Pics and Video of the University Club’s Michigan Avenue Expansion

One of Chicago’s oldest and most respected organizations is going to soon have a rooftop hang-out to let down its hair. The University Club of Chicago is getting ready to unveil its expanded headquarters at 76 East Monroe Street.  The organization has been busy building into and onto its neighboring building cluster, known as the Gage Group.  It popped off the seventh floor roof at 30 South Michigan to make it taller, and added...

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Happy Birthday, Giant Perplexing Picasso
Aug07

Happy Birthday, Giant Perplexing Picasso

Is it a woman?  Is it a cow?  Is it a baboon?  We will never know, because enigmatic artist Pablo Picasso took the answer to the grave with him, having never visited Chicago or seen the work he graced the city with. But this month is the 50th anniversary of the erection of Picasso’s gift to the city in what was then called Civic Center Plaza.  Ever since, tourists and locals have gazed into its narrow-set eyes and puzzled at...

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Construction Begins on Second GEMS Academy Building
Jul26

Construction Begins on Second GEMS Academy Building

Is it possible to start construction on a new school building in downtown Chicago without anyone noticing?  Yes, if you hide that construction in plain sight. The second GEMS Academy classroom building has begun construction on East Wacker Drive — right in the shadow of the massive 95-story Vista Tower going up in Lakeshore East. A formal groundbreaking ceremony was held in April of 2015, but construction is only now beginning in...

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