Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Santiago Explains it all for you

Chicago is now officially in the throes of Spire-mania. Over 500 people packed two separate meetings on Tuesday to see and hear developer Garrett Kelleher and architect Santiago Calatrava present what may actually be moving towards the final design for the Chicago Spire, their 2,000 foot high tower to be built on a derelict peninsula between the Chicago River, Ogden slip, and Lake Michigan.

There'll be a much more to come after we finish transcribing, including a full account of the proposals, prospects and designs for the long-unrealized DuSable Park, just east of the Spire, but for now, read our account on how Calatrava sat down next to an overhead projector, picked up a brush, and began creating watercolors to explain his concepts. ""Just working as I work in my office," Calatrava said, "bringing you into my office, and sitting you across from me and showing you how I would approach a thing like that, such an important thing, (through) a balance of very simple gestures."

Read all about it, and see a sampling of the images to come, here.


Anonymous said...

I saw the drawings & model. Absolutely beautiful. Of course, SOAR will find something to complain about; they always do.

Anonymous said...

I heard they are going for LEED. Have they announced how they will do that?

Anonymous said...

the key to cracking leed gold is having way too much bicycle storage

Anonymous said...

I just got an email (not sure how they got my email address) from someone who says they're a member of SOAR. I am convinced SOAR is an acronym translated from an Eastern European language as "Not In My Backyard."

Not only did this "member" complain about my posting, but they (he/she?) said, in so many adjectives, that they hates the design and will give them (developer team/architects?) h-ll about it.


Anonymous said...

??? I'm wondering how the windows might be washed??

How will the staging, window washing equipment traverse the twisted sides.

chgorunr said...

nrhlndAlthough I am not a member of SOAR, I do live one block west of the proposed grossly over-scaled edifice to Calatrava's already (self)-inflated ego. So, I can speak to how this building poses many problems to an already poorly conceived and over-developed neighborhood. First, let me say I love Calatrava’s Milwaukee museum and more than one of his bridges in Europe (especially the Alamillo bridge in Seville).

With that said, it is clear Rober Salm, Santiago Calatrava, and Garrett Kelleher do not live in the Streeterville neighborhood, particularly on its southern end or “River East” section. If they did, they could understand how this building will have a very negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood and its inhabitants---it IS a neighborhood and not the loop business district, after all. I always thought good/ great architecture was to be a benefit to its surroundings and not a detriment, am I wrong about that?

I have rented in the Streeterville/ River East area for the past five years. With every year that has passed, many new apartment and condo high-rises have been built. Very few could be considered “good architecture.” All can be directly linked to the ever increasing density of traffic and tourists. On the weekends, my neighborhood is over-run with cars, trucks, tourists, tourist buses, and people from all over the city and suburbs. Just because my neighborhood is near Navy Pier does not mean it should be a part of Navy Pier, which is one of the reasons why I HATE the proposed Chicago Spire. How would you like to pay high rent and be subjected to Disneyland throngs o people in your neighborhood every weekend (and every day and night in the summer)?

I pay very high rent to live in Streeterville, but Friday through Sunday I dread the influx of loud and always littering people. It is so bad, I hate to walk out of my building, at times. It is like Michigan Ave. at Christmas... you cannot even walk down the street without encountering walls of people. It was once a quite and safe neighborhood, but no longer. The as-yet unfinished Lakeshore East development (can the buildings over there get any uglier?) will also contribute to this Disneyland-run-amuck development.

And now Calatrava and Kelleher want to turn the River Walk into a busy promenade leading to their over-scaled/ grossly large Spire and an as-yet-to-be built-or designed DuSable Park. Please, Streeterville is a neighborhood not a Six Flags amusement park! With the Chicago Spire in place, traffic--- both pedestrian and vehicular--- are destined to become worse. Add the Lakeshore East traffic (which must cross the river to grocery shop, etc.) and you have a logistics and environmental nightmare. For example, if you have 1300 units in one building and multiply each unit with 2 cars (at a minimum), where are 2600 cars going to park? Not to mention the neighborhood is already too congested with traffic now!!!

Obviously, Kelleher’s “traffic expert” did not conduct his study during a normal weekend or during peak summer days. The traffic study should happen sometime between Memorial Day and Labor Day when Streeterville barely belongs to its residents and is overwhelmed with tourists and city/suburban revelers (and vomiting drunks; vomit piles are a common on the sidewalks thanks to Dick’s Last Resort). One more thing… all the trees Calatrava proposes for DuSable Park (included in all his renderings) suggest they will “hide” Lakeshore Drive, and that will allegedly be placed around his big fat building, are presently NOT there! How many decades will it take for the trees they “promise” to plant grow to “hide” Lakeshore Drive and “augment” the neighborhood? I hope this building NEVER gets built on the SMALL North Water Street plat of land. PUT IT SOMEWHERE ELSE… like in the loop where it belongs and not in my neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mr. chgorunr, I do live very close to Streeterville--233 E. Wacker in an aging, overpriced, no amenity rental building called Columbus Plaza. One of the few joys I admire about our building is that it does not sit on a 7-level parking garage like all the post-1980 buildings constructed in Streeterville and the New East Side. From your rant, your problem rests logically with Navy Pier and the ilk it attracts--both people and cars. I am can count on one hand the number of times I’ve visited Navy Pier in the past 6 years. If you want to complain, do not complain about developers or tourists about their traffic to and from Navy Pier. The city mandates parking ratios for architects and developers to incorporate into their plans. Complain to city planners and the alderman about those ratios, which have made it incredibly attractive for tourists and residents to drive their SUVs around Chicago, especially the Streeterville and New East Side areas.

My biggest problem with SOAR is not their desire for underground parking (admirable), but that they insist on badgering every single project they feel competes against their own property values. When SOAR complains about “density,” “congestion,” or any other term they use every time a developer wants to build anything larger than a 3-story building, what the group really means is the amount of traffic and parking the buildings will contain. For some reason, SOAR seems to have a 1975 vision of what Streeterville should be, and woe to any developer with plans to block their unprotected view. If SOAR had common sense, they would realize Streeterville is NOT the charming Old Town with highrises they think they are and force the city to drop their parking ratios and ancillary parking requirements for tourists.

Scott said...


It astounds me how forcefully you speak about how proud you are of your residence, yet don't like anything about the location or neighborhood.
You seem surprised that you moved into a tourist-y area and found a lot of tourists.

Anonymous said...


I am NOT against development in Streeterville/ River East. I am against poorly planned and poorly designed architecture. There is huge distinction between the two. “Good" architecture should compliment and benefit its surroundings not overpower them, as the Chicago Spire does.

While Streeterville/ River East was once barren with too many flat parking lots, the latest building craze has now plunked down too many ugly pre-cast concrete high-rises that add little to the neighborhood or our city’s skyline.

Being very close to the loop does not mean you cannot also develop a truly attractive, user-friendly, “green” neighborhood. That Streeterville/ River East is near downtown does not mean it should have to look exactly like the business district.

Wedging-in a colossally over-scaled building such as the Chicago Spire onto a 2.2 acre lot is BAD ARCHITECTURE and BAD URBAN PLANNING.

If Calatrava’s renderings were forced to accurately project exactly how his now-neutered/ spire-less building would look like among what is already built around this very small plot of land, it would become more evident just how misconceived this project is vis-à-vis the other structures in the neighborhood and the negative impact it will have on its environment.

Build a high-rise there, just not one that is 2000 feet tall. The Chicago “Spire” at 2000 ft. is just WRONG FOR A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD. Its proposed height now is merely a reflection of its architect and developer’s collective narcissism.

Think about it … the Chicago “Spire” will be taller than the Sears Tower! Try to imagine a building taller than the Sears tower only one block from your home (and add Navy Pier and all the tourist traffic that comes with it, too).

I am not against new and elegantly designed high-rises in my neighborhood. BUT, I do not want a building that is so out-of-scale for the neighborhood that it only adds more pedestrian and vehicular traffic than anything else.

And, Scott, I do like many things about my neighborhood and its location. I chose to live in Streeterville / River East mainly because I also choose not to own a car. I prefer to walk to work--- and why I pay high-rent-- because it is important to me to not own a car (so I don’t add to the pollution in our city). I also like being near the running path, for obvious reasons.

Likewise, I like to just walk in the neighborhood on the weekends, which poses a problem more and more because the ever increasing traffic is definitely NOT pedestrian- friendly. I have nearly been hit in the cross-walk far more times than I want to count.

And, the ever increasing presence of parking garages are also NOT pedestrian-friendly. Just walking down the sidewalk is dangerous when cars zoom out of the garages across the sidewalks, as if they are in a suburban parking lot (and not in a NEIGHBORHOOD). Again, I have also been nearly run-over this way. I do not think it is too much to ask to be able to walk down the sidewalk without risk of life and limb.

Putting a high-rise building on every available block in Streeterville/ River East is just more ugly concrete, traffic, and too many people. There is not enough “green space” as it is. As Mies suggested, “less is more.”

Streeterville/ River East needs a reprieve of all the unbridled development. I am not saying, “no more development.” I would ask the City to rethink its urban development plans for this area (and not allow developers to rape our neighborhoods and skyline). Thank God Natarus was voted out! I plan to write Reilly to make the points I make here. Natarus was never receptive to reasonable discussion; he did whatever the developers told him to do.

Once lost, Chicago will never get back its unique skyline and lakefront parks and neighborhoods --- which are two attributes, among many, that make our city so much better than NYC.

Streeterville/ River East it is NOT THE LOOP, SIX FLAGS, OR DISNEYLAND…

it is an urban NEIGHBORHOOD.

The Chicago Spire-less is literally misplaced and should be a lot farther South (if it can ever get financed and built).

Again, SORRY to RANT, but architecture is a passion of mine.

Anonymous said...

chgorunr, perphaps you need to consider moving to Dearborn Park in the South Loop. It sounds like a better fit for you with everything you get in Streetville, but without the tourists and vomiteers.

I do understand your concern about the traffic impacts due to the number of proposed units and consequent parking reqiurements. But if you examine the City's zoning map, you will see that most of Streeterville is either zoned DX-12 (high density downtown mixed use) or in a PD (Planned Development). I think the proposed tower is actually much better than some of Lakeshore East and actually quite beautiful. They did lose the anntenna and just flatten top in December. This current design is actually quite elegant with the rounded peak at the top.

AS for parking, this building would probably be required to have a minimum of 0.55 parking spaces per unit with a maximum of 1.1 spaces. This is alot for the size of the building, but I would venture to guess that during the development review stage, the developer and/or City will actually want much fewer parking spaces than required.

Can underground parking even be done in Streetville? The whole neighborhood basically sits on something like 10-15 feet of landfill. Not exactly where you'd like to put an underground parking garage.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a huge high rise being put up in Chicago, but one that looks like a big dildo??? Guess it will give New Yorkers something more to make fun of us for. Oh well, it could be worse, at least we don't have a big penis on our skyline like London does...

Anonymous said...

All I can say... What a bunch of whinners. Here is a VERY simple solution to those that don't like throngs of people and cars when living in a downtown URBAN atmosphere... MOVE!!! Try Channahon, or Minooka for God's sakes. Do all of us who do like urban settings, which by the way is the reason for your hefty price tag on everything you do and own when you are in a downtown type of environment, and get the heck out of there. You are apparently miserable because of mentioning that there are piles of vomit, which for the record I have never seen, and realize that progress is just that... Progress. It means bigger and... I know not always... better things.

Chicago is making some drastic changes, FINALLY!!! and it's downtown area is going to change immensely and turn into that more of one like Manhattan, which I look forward to as I do not mind traffic, and YES I do drive so before you go ahead and say thats because I don't have a car type of B.S. I want to stop you there. So, what if suburbanites want to come downtown and spend a weekend there and by the way SPEND their money there. Try to look at all the good that has been brought into Chicago over the past 10 years... Yes, there are more people, but for those who own; property values have skyrocketed and continue to do so making many many many people VERY rich, there is more entertainment than ever (theaters, plays, museums, clubs, bars, etc.), more parks, more recreation, more jobs (Money to be made), want me to keep going??? All this sounds horrible to me...(sarcasically speaking)

Seriously though if you are that miserable in streeterville because it is changing, do everyone a favor and try a more country type atmosphere, you definitly do not belong in a big city.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Streeterville's vomit filled streets aren't all that bad afterall if they can attract a multi million dollar project like this one. Perhaps it is just you who has the problem.

Anonymous said...

Piles of vomit everywhere? As a very happy, 25 year Loop resident and everyday long walker, I have yet to see my first example. To borrow a phrase from Boers and Berstein: "who you crappin?"

As several here have suggested, just move out and let the rest of us enjoy our ever changing great city.

Anonymous said...

Re: Mr.Chgorunr,
I do not agree that Mr.Chgorunr would have to move out of His neighbourhood of Streeterville,this would be extreme seing that he enjoys living there and is in walking distance to his work etc and he feels he can contribute in turn to supporting Green issues by not using a car.
Chogorunr proports to be passionate about Architecture...He lives in one of the most Architecturally beautiful, well thought out and planned cities in the world.
Santiago Calatrava's Spire is a credit not only to his Architectural genius but to Chicago Planning authorities that have yet again opted for Beauty over Function, and have added the spire to a collection of the worlds most inspired examples of modern architecture From the Exciting & innovative Architecture of Mies van der Rohe, F.L Wright through to Skidmore owings & Merrill...this is why Tourists from all over the worls come to your City and Marvel at its Skyline.
I hope in time Mr Chgornur that when the dust settles that you will realise just how lucky you are to live in such a neighbourhood. You will probably have to pinch yourself everyday that you live so near this Great ediface and enjoy its beauty.
You do know what it is to live in a city where Town planning is given very little consideration,Dublin is such a city with a similiar population to Chicago...Street& Town palnning is fuelled only by Rich developers..who commission dull uninspiring and the most boring functional, cheaply built buildings you could imagine,much to the exasperation of many Good Architects who would like to change things in this City but they are up against such money grabbing dinasaurs!
Who knows if property is subject to location the way it is here in Ireland your Residence could tripple in value... Enjoy your Great Location and your wonderful city. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

love Chicago; love the lake. really confused about why the city planners thought it would be aesthetically pleasing to build a great big penis on the shore. Are they just trying to literally flip off the rest of the world?

Anonymous said...

also wonder if there are any new concerns about a 2000 ft tall building on the shore line with the recent earthquake activity as well. Granted, 4.5 or so isn't huge, but given how small the building's footprint will be, one wonders if there will be need to accomodate for such...