Supertall buildings vie for dominance along Chicago’s skyline

The latest proposals pit designs by Rafael Viñoly, Jeanne Gang, and Helmut Jahn.

September 24, 2015 |

Developer Crescent Heights and architect Rafael Viñoly could possibly build twin skyscrapers for the south end of Grant Park in Chicago. Rendering courtesy Crescent Heights (via Curbed Chicago).

When Miami-based developer Crescent Heights unveiled plans for a 76-story, 829-foot-tall skyscraper with 792 apartments, that building could lay claim to be the tallest in Chicago’s South Loop. This Rafael Viñoly-designed tower is the first of three that Crescent Heights is planning just south of Grant Park, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

But only few days after Crescent’s plans became public, details surfaced about an even taller 86-story glass residential tower on 1000 S. Michigan Avenue, about a block from Crescent Heights’ proposed skyscrapers.

Last April that high rise’s developer, a joint venture between New York real estate firms JK Equities and Time Equities, paid $10.5 million for the 111-year-old eight-story Lighter Building, which is adjacent to their proposed tower. According to the JV’s application, the Lighter Building will continue to serve as office space. If the city approves 1000 S. Michigan, the joint venture intends to purchase a portion of the site for their tower from its current owner, First American Bank, according to Crain’s.

Architect Helmut Jahn designed this 506-unit tower, to be situated on a little more than an acre, to resemble four stacked boxes on its South façade. The 75-year-old Jahn has used this multi-step design approach before on a 41-story residential high rise in Chicago that was completed in 2008. The new tower proposal calls for condos on its top 60 floors and apartments on 21 floors. A parking garage with 598 slots would be in an 11-story rear extension to the tower.

Including its rooftop terrace, this tower would soar 1,030 feet, making it the Windy City’s fifth-tallest building. However, such claims are always transitory: Studio Gang’s architect Jeanne Gang has proposed a 1,140-foot-tall Vista Residences in Chicago, which would feature a trio of glass towers arranged in a row, with heights of 47, 71, and 93 stories. Gang told Dezeen magazine that she was inspired to mass the buildings by a formation called “frustum,” which resembles a pyramid without a pointy peak.

Helmut Jahn's proposed 506-unit tower. Rendering courtesy Hahn (via Chicagoist)

Jeanne Gang has proposed a 1,140-foot-tall Vista Residences. Rendering courtesy Jeanne Gang