Aon Center’s Glass Elevator-to-the-Sky to be Unveiled Tonight
May14

Aon Center’s Glass Elevator-to-the-Sky to be Unveiled Tonight

Glass as an amusement is a big thing these days.  It seems to have started with that glass bridge over the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai reservation in Arizona. Now we have a glass slide at the top of the U.S. Bank Building in Los Angeles.  The glass “ledges” at the top of the Willis Tower. The glass “tilt” mechanism at the top of 875 North Michigan.  And now the Aon Center is getting in on the transparent...

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GEMS Upper School Gets More Permits
Feb12

GEMS Upper School Gets More Permits

The second GEMS World Academy (355 East Wacker Drive) school building in Lakeshore East has been given the green light to start another round of construction.  The City of Chicago has issued permits to start work on the part of the bKL Architecture project that you might actually see. FOUNDATION AND SUPERSTRUCTURE FROM LOWER WACKER TO UPPER WACKER TO INCLUDE UNDERSLAB PLUMBING FOR PROPOSED 13-STORY GRADE 8 – 12 SCHOOL.  CAISSON...

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Mixed Messages at the New GEMS School in Lakeshore East
Dec18

Mixed Messages at the New GEMS School in Lakeshore East

What’s going on at the GEMS World Academy in Lakeshore East? It was just last week that the school held a dedication for its “Upper School.”  The Upper School, to be located at 355 East Wacker Drive, is the second of two buildings in the complex.  It is designed to serve students in fifth through 12th grades. You’ll remember the bKL-designed GEMS “Lower School” building opened amid much hoopla in...

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Alderman Sends Three-Tower Lakeshore East Plan Back to the Drawing Board
Dec13

Alderman Sends Three-Tower Lakeshore East Plan Back to the Drawing Board

Remember that sultry, silvery sliver of a skyscraper that you lusted after during the summer?  Well, the gales of December have blown in, and you can just forget about her. 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly has informed Magellan Development and LendLease that their proposed three-tower plan for completing the northeast corner of Lakeshore East is a non-starter. Mr. Reilly says he received hundreds of comments from his constituents...

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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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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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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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Chicago’s Vista Tower Loses Its 83rd Floor So People Won’t be “Afraid for Their Safety”
Jul17

Chicago’s Vista Tower Loses Its 83rd Floor So People Won’t be “Afraid for Their Safety”

It’s not uncommon for a major construction project to change after it’s already started.  Look at Wolf Point West, which had its 43rd and 45th floor setbacks moved to the 45th and 46th floors, creating two more residences.  Or the Skinner West Elementary School addition which is gaining a floor, long after just three were approved by the city. In the case of Jeanne Gang’s spectacular 95-story Vista Tower going up at...

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Developers Detail Big Big Big Plans for Lakeshore East
Jul11

Developers Detail Big Big Big Plans for Lakeshore East

After weeks of anticipation, skyscraper nerds, architecture enthusiasts, and the just plain curious got the information they’ve been craving about how the development of Lakeshore East will end.  The answer: With an 875-foot-tall bang. At a crowded public meeting at the Hyatt Regency, hosted by 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, architects and developers took the wraps off of two major projects: The final three skyscrapers...

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Lakeshore East Moving Forward, Losing a Skyscraper
Jun26

Lakeshore East Moving Forward, Losing a Skyscraper

One of the first long-form articles we published in Chicago Architecture way back in October of 2003 was a preview of Lakeshore East.  Back then, the only building that had been erected was The Lancaster at 201 North Westshore Drive.  The rest of Lakeshore East was dirt and weeds and a former caddyshack that still sported a small luncheonette that refused to die. My how things have changed. From the curvalicious skyscraper that put...

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