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Trio of Towers at Chicago River Confluence Continue to Climb

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Photos by Harry Carmichael

As winter finally sets in on the Windy City, the transformation occurring at the Chicago River's confluences continues onward at full speed. The trio of glassy towers have reached three different stages of construction as they collectively sharpen the edges of the river canyon where the three branches come together. And despite being still very much under construction, we can finally get an idea of how they will eventually look and how they will shape the north and western edges of where the Chicago River splits.

The new Wolf Point West tower is the most complete of the three, and has been architecturally topped out for the past month. Designed by the Chicago based bKL Architecture, the tower stands at 48 stories and will feature 509 rental units. The exterior construction elevator (sometimes referred to as a "skip" in the trades) has since been dissembled, leaving the northwest corner of the slender tower as the only portion not yet glazed in with the exterior facade. Finishing touches are now also being applied to the exterior riverwalk which passes through an arcaded stretch at the bottom of the tower where the footprint runs alongside the riverbank.

The tiered form of the riverwalk landscape plan is now visible to the southeast of the new tower, a form that will continue eastward when the second and third phases are constructed. The tiers are intended to hide the parking garage levels located below the elevation of the local raised streets while providing a smooth transition for pedestrians to reach the riverfront. The parking garage, which is mostly underneath a new plaza and motor court, allows each of the towers constructed at Wolf Point to gracefully meet the street and river levels with narrow footprints and no visible podium structure which has been typical of other high-rises built in Chicago with on-site parking.

The glass curtain wall extends beyond the occupied floors to screen the mechanical penthouse, although as this photo shows, under the right lighting conditions, some of the rooftop cooling towers can still be seen for those interested in spotting building systems equipment.

Meanwhile across the river, the Pickard Chilton-designed River Point at 444 West Lake Street has finished the concrete core and is racing to be structurally topped out as iron workers sling steel for the final few floors. The glass facade which had been lagging behind the assembly and fire-proofing of the steel structure is now 22 floors above street level and continues to climb. Prior to the facade work, screens enclosing the fireproofed floors were moving with the winds funneled along the river canyon, creating a spectacle of rhythmic waves dancing across the structure's exterior. The main entry, facing a soon to be constructed 1.5 acre public park on the riverfront is also now visible with the bottom archway now almost fully enclosed as well.

Across Lake Street to the south, The Goettsch Partners-designed 150 North Riverside is now cruising skyward with iron workers hitting their stride after completing the complex load transfers. These transfers display structural acrobatics in plain sight as they anchor the exterior structure of the cantilevering office floors into the concrete core and a pair of very large steel columns at either end of the tower. Those bookend columns and diagonal braces have since been concealed by masonry crews laying concrete block which will then be covered with a finished facade cladding. Glass panels have also begun installation along the riverfront providing the first reveal of the exterior's final color as well as a first glimpse of the anticipated facade texture through the use fins of alternating depths affixed to the mullions between the glass panes.

Shawn Ursini

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150 N. Riverside

150 N. Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL 60606