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Crews dig deep at soggy Wolf Point construction site

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Though still below ground, work on the 60-story apartment tower has been far from dull

Photos by Harry Carmichael

Since breaking ground in July, Chicago’s upcoming Wolf Point East apartment tower has seen more than its fair share of excitement. Located at the fork of the Chicago River’s three branches, the high-profile construction job has experienced both innovative solutions as well as setbacks from mother nature. Here’s a look back at progress over the last four months.

42nd Ward

After wrapping up foundation drilling in late summer, the Wolf Point crew added a novel solution for bringing equipment and materials to the cramped waterfront site: a trestle bridge. Supported by metal pylons and paved with timber crossbeams, the temporary ramp wraps around westward from the base of the Franklin/Orleans bridge to the center of the Wolf Point peninsula.

Things got even more exciting—and undoubtedly more expensive—when record October rainfall and a rapidly rising river submerged the site along with most of the Chicago Riverwalk. Crews quickly got to work pumping out the water and salvaging the flooded excavators. In a matter of days, work to dig out the Wolf Point’s lower parking levels was back underway.

Recent work on the 60-story, 698-unit rental tower has provided a graphic illustration of Chicago’s notoriously soft and clay-heavy soil. Still pretty soggy from last month’s flood, the muddy earth being removed from the site looks like it could supply countless pottery classes with raw materials. Next door, different workers continue to paint River North Point—previously known as the Apparel Center—a cooler shade of gray.

Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, the Wolf Point East project comes from developer Hines Interests and long-time property owner the Kennedy family. The duo have also teamed up with AFL-CIO trust—a group that invests in real estate on behalf of union workers' pension plans—to finance the $360 million project. The glassy 660-foot tower is expected to open in late 2019.

Trestle bridge supports.
Moving steel.
Wolf Point gets an unexpected bath.
Digging out the site was a group effort.
Some serious clay.

New gray paint for River North Point.
Workers dig out the tower’s below-ground garage.