While 2017 saw developer Related Midwest remain tight-lipped on its plans for the site of the defunct 2,000-foot-tall Chicago Spire project, a rendering showing a pair of very tall skyscrapers rising at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive recently reignited speculation regarding the site’s future redevelopment.
The rather slender image surfaced online, credited to Britain’s Zaha Hadid Architects. Featuring the kind of organic, sci-fi shapes that are characteristic of ZHA’s work, the rendering shows a tapering taller tower and a shorter structure that gets slightly wider as it rises, much like the bKL-designed tower proposed for the opposite bank of the river. The cellular exterior even manages to evoke the design of Chicago’s famous Marina City twins.
A spokesperson of developer Related Midwest reached by Curbed Chicago declined to comment beyond confirming that the ZHA rendering was “not the design” being pursued. While Related’s denial means the future plans for the gaping hole at 400 N. LSD is still anyone’s guess, the proposal shows that architects—and quite possibly the developer—are open to entertaining a very tall and very bold project for the prominent yet undeveloped location.
The cyborg corncob duo joins a growing number of designs that won’t be built at the Spire site. Other notable concepts to surface over the past several years include a pair of angular glassy twin buildings by Thonas Roszak Architecture and Gensler’s dramatic, Lake Shore Drive-straddling Gateway Tower study.
The Santiago Calatrava-designed Spire was an incredibly ambitious project from the beginning and ran into big financial trouble during the Great Recession. After drilling the 150-story tower’s circular foundation, the project’s original developers halted work 2008. Related Midwest took over the property in 2014 and hinted at plans to bring a “architecturally significant and thoughtful development” to the location.
Update: The rendering in question has been removed per request of its owner.