Located prominently in downtown Chicago at the confluence of the three branches of the Chicago River and positioned close to commuter train lines, this prime office site sat undeveloped for decades. Exposed railroad tracks on the west side and a city-required riverwalk on the east left an area on which to build that was considered impossibly narrow. Ultimately, an unconventional approach was required to unlock the site’s potential.
Utilizing a core-supported structure with a small footprint at grade and a bridged podium over the tracks, the design resolves the site challenges and provides a 54-story office tower with efficient, column-free floors. Tenants and visitors enter a dramatic, 90-foot-high lobby enclosed by a glass-fin wall hung from the structure above. The lobby features a 150-foot-long curated multimedia wall that showcases the work of digital artists across 89 LED blades. The site-specific installation provides a focal point while also addressing the transition between the opaque wall over the parking deck and the glass-fin wall above.
On the exterior, vertical mullions take cues from the river and undulate along the building’s wide east and west facades. The narrow north and south faces are divided into three vertical planes that accentuate the slenderness of the tower. The condensed base allows the majority of the two-acre site—more than 75%—to become a landscaped public park, plaza and riverwalk.
Certified LEED Gold, the project connects and revitalizes a critical downtown parcel, adding a landmark office tower and active new urban spaces for the city.
The same striated site conditions that informed the innovative tower design were instrumental to the design team’s approach toward sustainability. Disjointed by a river, train lines, a changing topography, and mandated public ways, the design team resolved to reconnect what was previously a crater in the urban fabric by bridging the site with a large urban park. Once stitched to the adjacent street grid again, the site created two acres of contiguous city land from which 150 North Riverside could emerge. By embracing the unique tower shape within this vision, the revitalized site maintained 75% of the reclaimed land as open public space for the residents of Chicago.
While the river and train lines coerced to divide the project site into slivers, they were nevertheless fundamental in connecting the project back to the surrounding neighborhoods and suburbs. Regional Metra trains, city “L” trains, buses and water taxis all provide convenient access to 150 North Riverside. This accessibility enabled the project to create new office space for over 5,300 people while constructing parking for only 72 vehicles—the equivalent of just 1.4% of the population. The minimal parking provisions reinforce the use of public transportation and, when combined with the new urban park and riverfront access, promote an active, walkable environment. In fact, the walk score for 150 North Riverside is an impressive 98.
Building upon the strong site selection, the design team further enhanced the project’s sustainable attributes by minimizing its consumption of natural resources. A total of 90% of rainwater is recaptured on site, helping to reduce potable water for landscaping of the 1.5-acre park by 63%. Inside the tower, low-flow fixtures and building systems combine to reduce potable water usage by 37%. High-performance facades and efficient mechanical systems help reduce energy consumption by 8%. Construction of the project diverted 99% of construction waste from landfills while incorporating recycled construction materials into 15% of the total building materials.
For the occupants, 85% of all spaces receive natural daylight while 94% of all spaces have a direct line of site to exterior views. Low VOC-emitting materials were used extensively throughout the project in addition to ventilation systems that enhance the indoor air quality to ensure comfortable and healthy interior workspaces for the tower occupants. All of these efforts combined result in a new LEED-CS Gold landmark in the heart of Chicago.
• Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr excluding on-site renewable energy contribution
• Predicted % regional energy reduction per Energy Star Target Finder
• Percent (%) precipitation managed on site
• Percent (%) waste water reused on site
• Percent (%) regulated potable water reduction from baseline
Construction Waste Diversion – 99%
Recycled Content – 15%
Regional Materials – 19%
Certified Wood – 97%
Additionally, all low-emitting adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, carpet and composite wood were used.