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Curbed Awards 2011: The Buildings!

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Here! Here! Time to kick off Curbed's end-of-the-year awards presentation. We scoured our back-issues for the past 12 months to be able to reward, in good conscience, standout buildings of the year. It's still, of course, quite subjective, but every building on the list has at least been a newsmaker. Come celebrate arbitrariness with Curbed! It's delightful!!

Biggest SellerElysian. As the foundation crumbled beneath it, Elysian managed impressive high-end sales numbers yet again (we awarded it last year, too). We're referring to the year-long speculation that the hotel component would fail. And, despite being named Conde Nast's BEST HOTEL IN THE WORLD, it did. But news that the Waldorf is assuming the mantle should only bolster sales and value going forward. With all of this going on, Elysian had sold the last six (6) developer-owned units by October for between $2.6M and $5.9M. That's something.

Biggest FailureOne Museum Park West. Foreclosure caught a lot of developers off-guard over the past few years, but no single-building foreclosure in the past four years was as big as the South Loop's One Museum Park West. The owners owed Bank of America an estimated $125M in October, prior to foreclosure. Moreover, this failed building is part of a larger calamity—Central Station—which has two other buildings in dire state. Completed in 2010, many thought right away buildings of this size, design, and pricing would face troubles in the down-market.

Best New High-RiseRoosevelt University's Vertical Campus. It's not quite finished but, topping-off back in June (alighting The Loop with its Sapphire glow), the 32-story dormitory has made its presence felt for some time. Set to become the tallest dorm in the land, it'll offer unobstructed lake views to all its residents (units don't begin til the 12th floor), and will allow RU to double enrollment by 2017. It's got some architectural merit too, with its two-tone checkered glass and undulating Westerly facade. But there's one big drawback: the 15-story bare concrete patch along the Northern elevation that'll contribute some serious drabness to the street if another building doesn't soon cozy up to it. All-in-all, it won us over due to its significance, its loudness, and its unprecedented nature.

Trend of the YearHotel development. If you thought we were fixed for hotels, think again. There's much to highlight, and here's a few: Early in the year, we first heard about Hyatt's plan to locate in Hyde Park's Harper Court Redevelopment. The 130-room hotel will help anchor the mixed-use project and is expected to open in 2013 as one of the larger hotels in the area. Heading North we pause at 203 N Wabash, future site of North America's first Virgin Hotel. Prolific developer John Buck is steering the project, which will amount to 250 luxury rooms in the handsome Dearborn Bank building. Alright, we're back on the bikes and heading North again, this time for River North, which registered the greatest concentration of hotels in the pipeline. Centered around Clark & Illinois, there's an agglomeration of accommodation in the works (three buildings' worth) for a large site at the Northeast corner of the intersection. We shot down there in the fall for a demolition derby, as a 19th century relic gave way to 'progress'. Ultimately, there may be upwards of 600 rooms of new lodging, enough to make many a River North booster blush.