Nearly a year since the dormant Solstice on the Park project first showed a faint pulse, it appears that the Hyde Park proposal is no longer mostly dead but very much alive and well. Replacing a parking lot at 5540 S. Cornell Ave on the northern edge of Jackson Park, the 299-foot residential tower designed by Studio Gang was first proposed way back in 2006 as a 113-unit condo building. After numerous delays and false starts, Solstice on the Park sat in a state of stasis until news of its potential revival surfaced again in early 2015. The project's programming has since shifted from the original condo concept to 250 rental units or 200 apartments plus a 160-key hotel component, should the developers decide to pursue that option.
According to its designer Jeanne Gang, Solstice on the Park will achieve a high level of energy efficiency thanks to its high-performance glass facade which alternates at 71 degree angles to take advantage of the low sun in the winter as well as create its own shade in the summer. The specific angle was inspired by the position of the sun during the summer solstice, which also provides the building with its namesake. The pattern simplifies into larger blocks as the tower climbs and individual units become larger. While residents with north-facing views will be able to enjoy downtown's skyline, the building's southern elevation will provide excellent overhead views of Jackson Park and Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. The concrete eastern and western walls include an irregular pattern of punch-outs reminiscent of sunlight passing through the branches of a tree.
To help unburden the areas limited supply of parking, the new tower will include at least 316 spaces in a garage to be shared with the neighboring 53-unit building at 5528 S. Cornell Ave. and the 220-unit Windermere House just east at 1642 E 56th St. The Solstice plan also provides upgrades to nearby Bret Harte Elementary School located immediately to the west. According to the Hyde Park Herald, the developers have already provided Bret Harte with a new playground, parking lot, and drive aisle for student pickup and dropoff. Solstice on the Park's previous Planned Development (PD) application was approved in 2008 but will be replaced by a fresh 2015 plan should it gain the approval of the Chicago Plan Commission. If re-approved by the city, Solstice on the Park will join Studio Gang's nearby City Hyde Park project under construction just five block north. The public hearing is scheduled for 10 AM on February 18th on the second floor of City Hall.