The article is a month old & nothing exciting but I thought what the hell:
New Projects Set A New Standard For Chicago Skyscrapers
The skyline of the future is growing outside your window right now.
(Tuesday 17 May 2005 @ 12:56) - The recent announcement that a 72-story glass shard will pierce the gloomy corridor that is Wabash Avenue signals a change in Chicago's skyscraper meme. Right now, it is saddled with the unimaginative title 21-39 South Wabash, but if built, it's impact will spread well beyond its eponymous name.
Until recently, Chicago's supertowers have remained on the fringe of the city's core. The John Hancock Center to the north, Sears Tower to the west, and Aon Center to the east. Moreover, these buildings are all products of the last century, and while they foreshadow coming events, their scattered locations prevented any kind of critical mass from allowing super-tall buildings to become accepted in the public subconscious. Majestic as they are, the three originals are curiosities to be ogled by tourists and grimaced at by people living in their shadows.
Now, we live in a slightly newer age. The forest of modern skyscrapers that sprouted in places like the Gold Coast and the Museum Center is rapidly encroaching on the dank, musty alleys of the Loop. So far, Donald Trump's new hotel/condominium hybrid is the only seed that has actually germinated. But across the river is a parking lot next to the LaSalle-Wacker building that could be home to the Waterview Tower. Add to that the South Wabash project, and you develop a nucleus. A beachhead against the rot that filters through the city's celebrated center and threatens to bring people, life, and vitality to a place that would be a ghost town on weekends if not for the tourists craning their necks from the tops of roofless double-decker buses.
To be sure, there have been other forays along these lines. Buildings like 200 North Dearborn and the unfortunately named Skyline Century of Progress are among those that have brought thousands of new full-time residents to the Loop. But good luck getting a coffee on a Sunday afternoon. Business hasn't responded to the flood of new residents because in the public's collective subconscious, the Loop is where people go to work, not to live. The Caribou Coffee shop at the corner of Lake and LaSalle started contemplating shortening its hours just five days after it opened. With that kind of faith in the neighborhood, expect the neighborhood to return the favor.
The master gardener trying to root out the mushrooms is none other than Mayor Richard Daley. Both praised and vilified for his iron grip on city affairs, it's always amusing to see him standing before a gaggle of press hounds playing dumb, pretending he doesn't know what's going on. The scandal-plagued Daley administration's actions speak louder than words both on corruption and on urban redevelopment. He was one of the first to show faith in the rebirth of the Loop by moving into The Heritage at Millennium Park (and thus making himself a North-sider). That building has done more to improve conditions on the Wabash corridor than any project in the last 50 years. The back side of Marshall Field's was always the place where tourists feared to venture. Now the area features an upscale McDonald's, fountains, and plants which make the creaky old El rattling above seem less scary. 21-39 South Wabash will be another stake in the heart of decay. It's towering shard of reflective glass will pierce the other end of the problem, and with any luck the natural course of commerce will fill in the gaps.
Though Chicago prides itself on being the headquarters of many major companies, the fact is that most of the big decision-makers either live or work in the 'burbs. McDonald's, Sears, United Airlines, and Motorola are jewels in Chicago's business crown, but they are borrowed jewels. All of those businesses are headquartered in the suburbs. It was a major coup for Mayor Daley to lure Boeing to the central business district, and keep the company from locating in Dallas or even Rosemont. But to lure more businesses, more tourists, and more curious suburbanites to the city, Chicago needs an ad campaign, and it's in the middle of putting one together. The city's skyline is the city's biggest asset. It is a 20-mile-long billboard advertising the urban lifestyle. But as mentioned earlier, the jewels in this crown are few and far between. It's easy for the eye to dismiss the Sears Tower as a fluke, given its remote location when viewed from the west. Same for the Hancock Center. And Aon is so far east that its height is diminished unless viewed from Lake Michigan. Now imagine Chicago six years into the future -- Sears, Hancock, and Aon are no longer anomalies. They are joined by the Trump project, Waterview Tower, and a glittering new building on South Wabash. The skyline is no longer fragmented -- it features a regular pattern of supertowers. The hole in the middle is filled, and the city has a slightly healthy bulge. When that image -- that billboard -- is complete, it will help change views about the city, and the Loop. It will be the most powerful advertisement for Chicago ever, and it will have cost the city just a few million dollars in tax incentives.
Chicago is remaking its skyline. The old standard was 30-stories. Then 50. Now if you're not 70, you're not even trying. The new sentiment isn't just good for architects, developers, and land owners. It's good for the city as a whole. It means more jobs and more money, and more people flowing to the city, all without the devastating environmental impact of plowing up virgin ground to build another soulless suburban cul-de-sac. Chicago's development is sustainable for the foreseeable future. As long as the skies remain open, the city can grow. And as it grows it prospers. Now all we have to do is get building.