The construction in Chicago doesn’t seem to stop—which is great if your searching for the perfect place to live in popular neighborhoods like River North, West Loop, Streeterville, South Loop, and even Hyde Park.
Need skyline views? Wish you had a designer lounge with swings? Do you long for pool deck topped by dramatic stone archways? Luxury dog amenities? These newest rental buildings have everything you want and more.
While living in a pricey brand new high-rise may not be realistic for every renter’s lifestyle or budget, there seems to be no shortage of tenants willing to sign on the line. Here are some of our favorite recent Chicago apartment buildings.
NEMA Chicago: The city’s tallest rental building has amenities to spare
Architect Rafael Viñoly transformed the Windy City’s southern skyline with the 76-story apartment tower known as NEMA Chicago. Rising 896 feet along the southern edge of Grant Park, the imposing tower is Chicago’s tallest rental building.
Inside, NEMA Chicago offers its residents a mind-melting 70,000 square feet of amenities including sprawling fitness center, which includes the only full Olympic sized boxing ring in any Chicago residential building. There’s also two pools, a basketball court, golf simulator, squash court, screening room, game room, coworking space, and a 21-and-over sports lounge.
The building’s 800 units are divided into two tiers furnished separate finishes, dedicated lobbies, elevators, and exclusive lounges. It’s its name implies, NEMA’s “Skyline Collection” residences on floors 49 through 76 offer some of the best views in Chicago.
727 W. Madison: Lounge above the West Loop in swinging chairs
This gently curving tower rises nearly 500 feet over the West Loop and holds the distinction—at least for now—as the city’s tallest building on that side of the Kennedy Expressway. It offers excellent views in all directions through floor-to-ceiling windows as well as all the amenities renters expect from a new building.
Our favorite part? It’s a toss-up between an eye-catching model apartment designed by Anthropologie and the suspended swinging chairs in the lounge overlooking the downtown skyline. You can rent its sky-high penthouse for $10,000 a month.
The Aurélien: Find peace in this glittering Gold Coast tower
With a name to that translates to “golden” in French, this 31-story apartment tower aspires to meet the high expectations of Chicago’s pricey Gold Coast neighborhood. Aurélien really shines from the inside out thanks to an emphasis on bringing cutting-edge design to its amenity spaces, designed by West Loop-based Studio K.
Aurélien’s interiors feature a ground floor parlor, library, and concierge spaces framed by handsome metal floor-to-ceiling pivot doors. The top floor is home to an outdoor pool deck, game room, party room, fitness center, and men's and women’s “meditation lounges.” With so many communal spaces available, you may only need to head to your apartment to sleep.
Emme: Looking forward by looking to the past
While most apartment developments tend to focus only on what’s new and shiny, the 199-unit Emme project is acutely aware of what came before it—specifically the bloody 1886 organized labor protest known as the Haymarket Massacre.
“We didn’t want to ‘theme’ the building on the Haymarket event itself,” explained Don Copper of GREC Architects. “But we wanted to embrace it and show respect.” Emme’s design achieves this by stepping the building back from the lot line to give the 2004 bronze memorial by artist Mary Brogger some breathing room.
Emme also uses contrasting cladding meant to evoke the Chicago common brick found in the area’s older buildings and incorporates recycled wood beams from site’s partially demolished Crane Company warehouse in its lobby. The result is a contemporary apartment building that has a firm grasp on the past.
One Bennett Park: A slice of New York in Streeterville
Chicago’s new apartment boom delivered dozens of luxury rental buildings over the past years, but none may rival Streeterville’s One Bennett Park when it comes to pushing the upper edge of the high-end envelope.
The 836-foot-tall skyscraper comes from New York architect Robert A. M. Stern and is the 79-year-old designer’s first Chicago project. Forgoing the glass and steel cladding popularized by the modernist movement, One Bennett Park opts for an Art Deco-inspired design of stone and concrete that steps back as it rises.
Stern’s team was also involved in the interior design of the building’s 279 apartment units—custom-creating or hand-selecting everything from bespoke door handles to kitchen cabinetry. This level of design and attention to detail, however, does not come cheap and the rents at One Bennett Park reflect this.
504 Green Street: Hip transit-oriented apartments in River West
This River West apartment complex may not be Chicago’s tallest or most posh, but it one of the most substantial examples of the transit-oriented rental trend spreading to the neighborhoods outside of downtown.
504 Green Street (formerly known as Kenect) appeals to millennial renters forgoing automobile ownership for walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit. It embodies the larger transit-oriented development movement where tenants are willing to pay a premium for the convenience of a quick, car-free commute.
“We’ve had residents tell us that they timed how long it takes to get from door to door between their apartment and the Clark & Lake station,” developer Rajen Shastri told Curbed, “It’s only about seven minutes.”
Solstice on the Park: Studio Gang’s daring South Side
Although Chicago’s new apartment towers are mostly concentrated in neighborhoods like River North, the South Loop, and Fulton Market District, one of the city’s most interesting recent additions can be found several miles south of downtown in Hyde Park.
Feast your eyes on Solstice on the Park, a 250-foot tower from Studio Gang Architects that’s perched at the northern edge of Jackson Park. The striking, muscular design is made up of a rhythmic pattern of alternating vertical and angular glass, said to match the position of the sun during the summer solstice.
While the well-appointed units include open floorplans, stainless appliances, full-size washers and dryers, and optional home automation technology, the best feature is the view of the park—home to the Museum of Science and Industry, the White City of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and the upcoming Barack Obama Presidential Center.
Wolf Point West: Chicago’s best river views, for now
Although far from the newest apartment development, Wolf Point West tower still stands as one of Chicago’s most high-profile places to rent. Situated at the meeting of Chicago River’s north, south, and main branches, the long-underutilized site traces its history back to the early days of Chicago.
Completed in 2016, the bKL-designed tower rises 48 stories and offers water views in nearly every direction. But, with a second apartment tower and a Salesforce-anchored office skyscraper planned next door, the sightlines to the east won’t last forever. But for now, the views from Wolf Point West—especially from its top-floor amenity terrace—is nothing short of sublime.