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Lakeshore East’s ‘Parcel I’ tower gets taller, headed to City Hall for approval

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The project will rise at least 75 feet higher than previously reported

bKL Architecture

The tallest of three proposed residential towers slated for the undeveloped northeast corner of downtown’s Lakeshore East neighborhood could rise considerably higher than previously reported. Revealed in a zoning application filed by developers Magellan and Lendlease last week, the height of the so-called “Parcel I” high-rise is now listed at 85 stories and 950 feet.

The bKL-designed tower was first shown at 80 stories and 875 feet at its public debut in summer 2017. The 80-story figure was again referenced at a follow-up presentation last month where the developers focused mainly on addressing lingering concerns from neighbors—and Alderman Brendan Reilly—regarding landscaping and site accessibility.

Elevation drawings from the project’s zoning documents list Building I as 85 stories with a height of 950 feet from “ground level.”
Chicago City Clerk

It’s worth noting that the 950-foot figure does not include Parcel I’s upper mechanical penthouse and architectural screening. More importantly, it is unclear if the 950-foot measurement from “ground level” is indeed taken from the dirt or an elevated position atop of the development’s parking podium along Harbor Drive.

If the latter proves to be the case, the final height could push well past the 984-foot official “supertall” threshold established by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Chicago currently has just a single supertall building under construction—the 1,198-foot Vista Tower hotel and condo development, also located in Lakeshore East.

The design of Parcel I features an eastern facade that juts toward Lake Michigan as it rises. Combined with the two-building 400 N. Lake Shore Drive proposal at the former Chicago Spire site on the opposite bank of the Chicago River, the Parcel I building will form the southern half of a architectural gateway between downtown and Lake Michigan.

The signature high-rise at Parcel I is the final phase of the three-building plan and therefore work won’t begin until the neighboring 40-story rental building at “Parcel K/L” and the 50-story condo tower at “Parcel J” are completed. Developers expect the total construction period to take between five and seven years.

With the project’s paperwork filed with the city and no further public meetings scheduled, the next step will likely be a trip to the Chicago Plan Commission, Committee on Zoning, and full City Council for approval. That process could begin as soon as next month.

Provided the Parcel I tower is approved, financed, and completed as planned, Chicago’s skyline of the future is poised to become that much more dramatic.

If the 950-foot height figure is being measured from the top of the parking podium, the final height could exceed 984 feet for official supertall status.
bKL Architecture