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SOM designs staircase-like tower for Fulton Market District

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The slender proposal features a stepped layout with metal cross-braces and angled terraces

A rendering of 800 W. Fulton Market.
Images courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

On Tuesday evening New York-based developer Thor Equities showed off its plan for an 18-story office project next to the Fulton Market District neon neighborhood sign. The design from Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill adds texture to a landscape where new office construction consists mostly of wide glass boxes and knock-off warehouses.

Instead of spreading out across its full-block site, the proposal at 800 W. Fulton Market pushes skyward with multiple setbacks and terraces for a much slimmer profile when viewed from the east and the west.

The proposed design steps away from the lower buildings to the south (left) toward the taller office developments to the north (right).

SOM’s stepped design provides outdoor amenity space for tenants and serves as a more gradual architectural transition between the low-rise buildings of the Fulton Market Historic District and the taller 19-story office project under construction at neighboring 333 N. Green Street.

Clad in reddish brick, glass, and industrial-inspired X-shaped cross braces, the project will have its office lobby on Green Street and retail spaces at all four corners. A loading berth and a ramp down to the building’s 36-space below-ground parking garage is slated for Wayman Street, and planned sidewalk improvements around on the block will take design cues from the city’s nearby Fulton Market Streetscape project.

Overall building height is pegged at roughly 300 feet—reduced slightly from 326-foot figure shown in the project’s initial zoning application. The haircut was a result of earlier closed-door discussions with local neighborhood groups, according to the development team.

The new tower replaces the John R. Morreale Meat warehouse at 820 W. Fulton Market, the old Isaacson & Stein Fish Company building at 800 W. Fulton Market, and the former home of the The Mid nightclub at 306 N. Halsted Street—acquired by Thor in phases over the past two years. The proposal will require a zoning change to move forward.

The developer hopes to break ground later this summer and anticipates the project will take 16 months to complete. Thor’s Peter McEneaney said the company has no tenants signed and that a Rascal Flatts restaurant will no longer be coming to the site. While McEneaney didn’t elaborate on the reason, the country music-affiliated franchise appears to have failed nationwide and pulled out of locations in other cities, according Eater Chicago.

If all goes to plan at 800 W. Fulton, the new high-rise will join a number of significant office projects cropping up along Green Street. These include the trio of buildings at 330, 333, and 360 N. Green from Sterling Bay and a development from Shapack Partners and Focus that recently broke ground at 167 N. Green.

“This area is one of the hottest areas in the country right now,” said 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. at Tuesday’s presentation. “It’s attracting more economic development than any other area in the city of Chicago.”

With so much construction in the works and more office projects undoubtedly on the way, more developers, hopefully, will take a similar design approach to the Fulton Market area and look beyond the squat box.

The building’s first setback is roughly inline with the height of the older structures in the Fulton Market Historic District.