In a sign that enterprising developers might be warming to cheaper, greener remedies for impossibly ugly architecture, the owner of the Intercontinental Chicago is pushing a green wall for a portion of the hotel's Mag Mile facade. We're talking about the North Tower, that 26-story blank, windowless insult to urbanity. Strategic Hotels & Resorts CEO Laurence Geller plans to cloak the first 10 stories in a living green wall. The 9,800 square feet of year-round plantings would cost two or three mil and would become the largest green wall in North America should it receive City Council's blessing. It has the giddy support of Ald. Brendan Reilly and is expected to glide through approvals. If it does without a hitch, Geller will have the frame built by winter with plantings hung next spring. Local landscape designer Anne Roberts has been hired, and she will incorporate rainwater harvesting as a cost saver for the hotel. Her greatest challenge is getting the right mix of hybrid plants that'll withstand our climate and the particulars of life on a wall.
Straight-talking Geller didn't hide his disdain for the building when asked by The Trib's Melissa Harris about the scarcity of windows: "It was built stupidly — cheaply and stupidly some 30-odd-years ago. I don't know what was in anyone's head." With righteous indignation, he continued: "We're going to do it because it's right, and we may make a lot of money. All I need is a quarter-point (more) of market share to get a 20 percent return. And if I don't get it, I don't get it, but at least I'll have made the building better." We dig. Were Geller to tear down and start anew, it'd take years with no guarantee of anything much better.
·Living green wall planned for InterContinental Chicago [Trib]