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A closer look at the projects under construction in Chicago’s Streeterville

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Crews are working to deliver 1,200 new residences and 500 hotel rooms

All photos by Harry Carmichael

As Chicago’s remarkably mild winter comes to a close, work on a number of new developments in the city’s downtown Streeterville neighborhood has made considerable progress. The community bounded by the river, the lake, and the Mag Mile currently has three residential high-rises taller than 500 feet under construction plus two new hotels and a biomedical research center also on the way. Combined, the projects look to deliver roughly 1,100 new rental apartments, 69 luxury condos, and over 500 new hotel rooms.

One Bennett Park

↑ Related Midwest’s One Bennett Park will eventually rise over 800 feet and not only make its presence known in Streeterville, but take a prominent place on Chicago’s greater skyline. The 70-story tower has been under construction at 451 E. Grand since last spring and is rising at a rapid clip. The first panels of precast concrete cladding with pre-installed windows have also been fitted into place. Designed by well-known New York architect Robert A.M. Stern, One Bennett Park will feature 69 upscale for-sale condos, 279 rental apartments, and a new public park that gives the project its name when it opens in late 2018/early 2019.

Optima Chicago Center II

↑ At 220 East Illinois, the 57-story tower known as Optima Chicago Center II is closing-in on its final height of 588 feet. Contrasting with its blue colored 42-story older sibling next door, the upcoming 381-unit apartment building is clad in green glass and features a playful bright red base. The two-building rental complex comes from Optima Inc. which is owned by architect David Hovey. Streetville’s Optima Chicago Center II is expected to open later this year.

465 North Park Street

↑ After breaking ground last fall, the 48-story apartment tower on its way to 465 N. Park is already making its presence known at street level. The project comes from developer Jupiter Realty Company and Chicago architectural firm Pappageorge Haymes Partners and will deliver 444 new rental units. Building amenities include a 5th floor outdoor pool, fire pits, a fitness center, as well as a communal "Sky Deck" on the tower’s 37th level.

Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center

↑ At the former site of Bertrand Goldberg’s demolished Prentice Women's Hospital, the first phase of Northwestern University’s Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center is finally starting to bridge its imposing dual concrete cores with steel beams. This initial phase of the project calls for a 13-story tower. When the facility needs more space in the future, the building will undergo a vertical expansion and reach approximately 30 stories in total. Architecture firm Perkins+Will is serving as Simpson Querrey’s lead designer.

Hotel EMC2

↑ Shoe-horned into a 60-foot-wide site at 226-228 E. Ontario Street, the 21-story Hotel EMC2 should be welcoming its first guests any day now. The KOO Associates-designed project will feature 195 guest rooms and a funky geometric patterned base enclosing a lobby restaurant dubbed "The Albert," presumedly as a reference to the project’s Einstein-inspired name.

Aloft Mag Mile

↑ Directly across from the nearly-completed EMC2, a second hotel is just getting started. Crews are moving full steam ahead with foundation caissons at 327 E. Ontario for an 18-story new development known as the Aloft Mag Mile. The project comes from Tishman Realty Corporation and replaces a low-rise building that previously housed Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art with 336 hotel rooms. It is expected to be completed in the second half of 2018.

Michigan Avenue Apple Store

↑ Though rising just two stories above street level, Michigan Avenue’s new flagship Apple Store will make a bold architectural statement along the north bank of the Chicago River. Designed by famed London-based architects Foster+Partners, the upcoming building features Prairie School-inspired proportions plus striking—and presumedly very expensive—curved glass corners. In addition to selling Apple products, the project will energize the southern edge of Pioneer Court with a grand, waterfront staircase.