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Making Sense of the Construction Boom Underway in the Loop

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In the northeast corner of the Loop, there has been a hot pocket of construction activity along two blocks of North Michigan Avenue between Lake Street and the Chicago River. After several months of nonstop work, the progress on these new projects is becoming very visible.

At 200 North Michigan Avenue, the bKL Architecture designed apartment highrise has work crews hitting their stride pouring concrete for the typical tower floor plates, allowing the structure to climb a floor or two higher each week. The setback within the base of the building lends a visual clue to the two floors of retail that will soon wrap the corner of Michigan and Lake. The 41 story building replaced a six story Holabird & Root designed Art Deco office building built in 1927, and will contain 402 residential units once it is completed.

Previous 200 N Michigan coverage >>

Just one block north, a pair of hotels is preparing to open during the peak tourism season this summer. A 143 room Hampton Inn is being carved into the landmarked 1928 Chicago Motor Club Building. Scheduled to open in June, the hotel preserves historic elements of the old club, such as an original mural spanning 29 feet in the lobby while adding a few items such as a Roaring '20s themed cocktail bar.

Previous Chicago Motor Club Building coverage >>

Directly next door, a brand new 27 story Hilton Garden Inn with 191 rooms was sandwiched into a tiny open lot between the Motor Club's western wall and the eastern wall of the Harry Weese designed Seventeenth Church of Christ Scientist. Because the new GREC designed concrete high-rise stands lot line to lot line, stricter fire codes means the western facade facing the river has no glazing. The metal panel cladding the will cover is now almost fully installed, reveling a checkerboard pattering in various hues of gray.

Previous Hilton Garden Inn >>

On the same block, the last open lot on this stretch of Wacker Drive is seeing steel beams fill the gap. This property at 85 East Wacker is an addition to the landmark London Guarantee Building, now being converted to the LondonHouse hotel. The London Guarantee Building was designed by Alfred Alschuler and originally completed in 1923. For the past year, the upper floors and the Beaux Arts cupola atop it have been shrouded in scaffolding as the facade restoration has been underway. The addition, designed by Goettsch Partners will features guest rooms that will be directly connected to the adjacent older building at each floor, utilizing the existing elevators. This new highrise underway is a bit unique in that it will be tall structure without any elevators of its own. The steel will likely be erected quickly in the next few weeks as one of the last holes in the highly visible Wacker street wall gets filled in. The LondonHouse is expected to open in 2016.

Previous LondonHouse coverage >>

Shawn Ursini

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Chicago Motor Club

68 E. Wacker, Chicago, IL 60601