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Streeterville's One Bennett Park Officially Under Construction

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The new 67 story mixed apartment and condo tower had its first caisson drilled this past Friday

The tallest building of the current building boom to move beyond the approval stage is officially under construction. Late last week, an approximately 12 foot diameter caisson was drilled into the earth under the site of One Bennett Park, a combined for-sale condominium and rental apartment tower that will stand at 67 stories, or an anticipated 850 feet in height.

The location of the new tower at the southwest corner of Grand Avenue and Peshtigo Court will place the building in good position to break the visual height plateau of southeastern Streeterville near Navy Pier, where the immediate neighbors framing the local skyline top out between 475 feet and 645 feet in height. The tallest of the surrounding buildings is presently Lake Point Tower, the 70-story curvilinear international style building between the pier and Lake Shore Drive, which One Bennett Park will tower over by an additional 205 feet.

One Bennett Park is being developed by Related Midwest and was designed by the New York-based firm of Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The building's postmodern aesthetic will stand in contrast to the modern, Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) designed 500-unit apartment tower Related recently built across the street to the east at 500 North Lake Shore Drive.

The public park which was stripped of its vegetation in March now serves as staging area for the steel liners and reinforcing bars being assembled in large cylindrical cages soon to be lowered into the drilled shafts and then filled with concrete. The work site is also littered large diameter caisson ‘tops’—steel tubs used to hold back lose soils as caisson drilling is underway and then are pulled up from the ground and reused.

The park was an extensive green roof system covering a subterranean parking garage completed in 2008 in conjunction with the SCB-designed Parkview West tower at the opposite end of the block. With the onsite parking garage already built, the new tower will simply be linked to the existing structure for the parking needs of the future residents. As such, there will be no above grade parking levels, a somewhat uncommon design feature in Chicago where most towers are often perched on a podium due to unfavorable soil conditions which come with building on top of a former prairie swamp or in the case of this particular site, Lake Michigan landfill. The base of One Bennett Park will feature active floors throughout the structure as it wraps the frontages of the two neighboring streets and the reconstructed park space to the adjacent to the tower footprint.

The new, redesigned 1.7-acre park will feature a new layout and landscaping plan from Michael van Valkenburgh Associates, a designer who also played a key role in designing Maggie Daley Park and The 606 trail, both of which opened last year. The developer is paying the entire cost of reconstructing the park as part of the development agreement to build a larger tower than what was originally approved for the eastern end of the block.

Upon completion, One Bennett Park will come in as the 13th tallest tower in Chicago, assuming the approved plans for the Studio Gang-designed Vista and the Rafeal Viñoly-designed Grant Park Tower at Roosevelt and Indiana also begin construction this year. These other two towers would eventually rank as Chicago's new third and ninth tallest towers respectively and would certainly assist in marking 2016 as major year for construction starts bringing big changes to the Chicago skyline.