While leadership in Chicago’s development department is focusing on plans to revitalize South and West Side neighborhoods—the buzz of construction downtown isn’t slowing. Plans for the 50-story tower next to Union Station were announced earlier this year, and now work on the building is underway.
It will be the tallest building west of Canal Street and push the central business district further out on the other side of the river. Known as Union Station Tower for now, the structure is expected to finish construction in January 2022.
The tower is optimized for public transit, it sits right next to Union Station’s transit center. It’s also replacing an Amtrak-owned parking garage, which closed at the end of September.
The glass and steel tower is a design from the Chicago firm Goettsch Partners. The sharp, angular supports that extend from the exterior are striking when compared to the traditional, columned Union Station just on the other side of the street. Not only is it distinct for its contrast, but also what it represents: Union Station embodies the city’s past as a railway hub, and the new tower looks to the city’s future as a big business and tech hub.
When it opens, Union Station Tower will join an increasingly crowded downtown office market. The 1.5 million-square-foot high-rise was face competition from the 1.4 million-square-foot Bank of America tower under construction at 110 N. Wacker, the planned 1.2 million-square-foot Salesforce Tower at Wolf Point, and the Chicago’s sprawling renovation of the Old Post Office into 2.8-million-square feet of modern office space.
The project was co-developed by Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties. Aside from high-end offices, there will be a 400-car garage and 1.5 acre, publicly accessible park.
That development team, along with Amtrak, will also renovate the upper floors at Union Station’s historic headhouse into a 400-room hotel. An earlier design calling for a clumsy seven-story apartment addition was cut from the overall plan. Zoning for the both office tower and headhouse conversion was approved by City Council in October.