Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hyde Park Gangs Up on Solstice

Nineteenth century, meet the 21st. Just across from the Museum of Science and Industry, the last surviving structure from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition,
Solstice on the Park, a 26-story condo tower designed by Studio/Gang Architects is set to begin construction this coming summer (June 21st groundbreaking, anyone?)

The project has already won Chicago Plan Commission approval, and has reportedly also received a fairly warm reception from local community groups. (This is Hyde Park, after all.)

It will rise across Cornell Avenue from the 1923 Windermere House, a classic 1923 apartment hotel designed by Rapp & Rapp, the architectural firm best known for movie palaces like the Chicago and Uptown. The Windermere is owned by the Solstice's developer, Antheus Capital LLC, of New Jersey, which has become a major property owner in Hyde Park over the past few years.

The 145 unit project will sit in the center of a nearly two-acre site. The windows of its south facade will be tilted at a 71 degree angle, which, lest my more learned readers correct me [they have], is the angle of the sun at the moment of Chicago's summer winter summer solstice. Beyond the poetics, the angling maximizes light in the winter and minimizes glare and solar heat gain in the summer. As in Gang's design for the Ford Calumet Visitors Center, the angled glass, coupled with fritting, also helps reduce bird strikes, which is often a lethal side-effect of highly transparent glass that appears to the birds as an unbroken continuum of their flight path rather than a solid obstruction.

Load tests on Solstice's shear walls to the east and west identified areas where the concrete carried comparatively little force, allowing voids to be cut into walls. The voids get larger as the wall rises and carries less weight, that open up what would otherwise be rather monolithic forms. Antheus will be seeking LEED certification for the project, which will also pursue such niceties as recycling rainwater for lawn irrigation. (factoids courtesy of I am hydrogen's post on a November community meeting on skyscraper

The design continues to evolve, even from renderings dating from last November. In the rendering on the project's website, a rather heavy cornice has been added to the top of the building, and the voids in the shear walls have become more numerous, varied and complex.

A full page, full color ad ran in this past Sunday's Chicago Tribune, promising "prism-like geometry . . . Like nothing that has come before." They're not just condos: they're "intelligent highrise homes." $500k and up, 1,200 to 3,500 square feet. For the moment, however, Solstice, like the Chicago Spire late last year, is only soliciting inquiries. Actual unit sales are projected to begin in March.

And if the report by the Tribune's Jeanette Alameda is correct, Solstice will be bucking, not just the current economic uncertainties, but one of the basic tenets of traditional developer's strategy: there will be no one-bedrooms.


wrabbit said...

I believe that 71 degrees is the angle of the sun at the [i]Winter[/i] solstice, not the Summer solstice - the angle allows for additional solar heat in the Winter months.

ayeff said...

Lynn, you were right the first time when you said summer solstice. Wrabbit is correct that the point is to allow more solar heating in the winter months, but this means that the angle of the windows must NOT equal the angle of the sun. Because the angles are different, the sun shines in. In the summer, when the sun is close to 71 degrees, because the angle of the windows matches the sun, no direct light will shine into the building. See the diagram here, which I found on blog where the I am hydrogen post was. Also, you're missing an "h" in the "http" of the link to that post.

Anonymous said...

It's debateable whether angling the glass is a net positive. The summer shading comes from the overhang, not the tilt of the glass. The tilt of the glass will reduce the glare in the interior from interior lights at night. This is not an energy issue. It's a night time view issue. But there's a trade off. For maximum solar gain in winter, you would rather have the glass perpendicular to the sun's rays.

wrabbit said...

Ah, my apologies. Summer solstice it is.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why it's so surprising that there be no small apartments (one-bedrooms). Hyde Parkers prefer larger units - the senior building to the east - Montgomery Place - seriously misjudged on unit sizes and had to recombine units to get the room counts and unit sizes demanded, so they ended up with two bathroom studios in some cases. People in Hyde Park tend to have a lot of books, art and large furniture. I think that it will also make it more palatable locally and less desirable for invester-owners and more so for owner-occupiers.

Petra Lynn said...

The referenced diagram indicates 72 deg as the Summer Solstice. And, the sales web site sucks, big time.


Anonymous said...

Your headline is misleading. There was essentially no negative reaction in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Petra -- Living in HP, I can assure you that there was, in fact, opposition to Solstice in the Park. A variety of NIMBY arguments were presented in the Hyde Park Herald. However, given that nearly 5 years have past since the original plans were announced and ground has yet to be broken (hell, even the car park that currently occupies this plot has yet to be removed!), I think the point is mute -- Solstice will likely never see the light of day.

Josh said...

The Hyde Park Herald reported recently (Nov. 6, 2013) that the developer, Antheus, is ponying up to pay for improvements related to the adjacent CPS (Bret Harte).
There is no indication that this project will ever come to light, however. We shall see if the the other two Studio Gang projects in the area, at 51st & Lake Park ("City Hyde Park"), and the U of C dorm at 55th & University break this record of failure.

arrielle_p said...

I thought this is Solstice condominium in Makati City.

Nice design of the property and a great read here though. :)

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