Chicago-based design firm bKL Architecture raised some eyebrows recently after sharing renderings of a mysterious 63-story tower for the downtown parking lot bordered by Madison, Desplaines, Monroe, and the Kennedy Expressway.
Though the project was an active proposal at one point, it ultimately did not move forward, a person at bKL familiar with the matter told Curbed Chicago. With that being said, the mixed-use design is nonetheless interesting and worth exploring a little more closely.
Spanning just shy of 1.7 million square feet, bKL’s conceptual tower is massive—even by downtown standards. Its three interlocking block-like shapes are organized around its variety of proposed of uses: garage, office, hotel, and residential, according to the description on the company’s website.
The stacked box layout is somewhat reminiscent of the firm’s design for Lakeshore East’s upcoming 50-story “Parcel O” combination apartment and hotel tower.
Though the facade of bKL’s mystery tower provides opportunities for graphics and branding, the architecture firm declined to comment on the identity of their past client. The logo shown in renderings appears to be little more than a placeholder.
Chicago has a rich history of eye-catching developments that never got beyond the drawing board. From the 1,265-foot-tall Waldorf-Astoria Tower to Frank Lloyd Wright’s fanciful mile-high skyscraper, bKL’s unrealized design is at least in decent company.
As for that prominent downtown development site at Madison and Desplaines, it is still a parking lot.