Spring has arrived, and a favorite weekend outing of FitzGerald’s staff is a river cruise with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The way we see it, the Chicago River has just begun to emerge from its harrowing life first as a transportation channel, then an industrial sewer, then a relatively ignored waterway.
Only a portion of developments in the last two decades have truly maximized the benefit of their riverfront position, and through the efforts of individuals and groups like the Friends of the Chicago River the river stands to flourish as a unique urban asset that flows through the heart of our city and neighborhoods. Now is the time to focus our resources on the river and the use of surrounding lands, and much of the territory that was once cordoned off for now-absent industries that relied on a riverfront position should be removed from restrictive zoning areas and allowed to seek highest and best use.
In preparation for our (and your) next sightseeing voyage down the Chicago River, we’ve assembled a visual guide to these FitzGerald projects:
While each tour provider starts and stops in slightly different places, we’ll begin where the river does–just south of Navy Pier on the shore of Lake Michigan!
Once inside the locks and before passing underneath Lake Shore Drive, the once-industrial Ogden Slip splits from the river–and is home to Lofts at River East, in the former North Pier Terminal building.
Originally constructed in 1905 as the Pugh Terminal Warehouse, the 547,000 square foot building was converted in 1990 to office and retail uses. Current tenants include Fox & Obel, Quay restaurant, and the River East Art Center. The six-story building in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood is over 625 feet long and features building-length frontage on, and access to, the Ogden Slip. Group Fox acquired the building earlier this year, and along with FitzGerald’s design team is planning a mixed-use redevelopment of the property to include apartments, restaurants, retail, and office uses.
Progressing westward and turning south at Wolf Point, we take a brief trip down the South Branch of the River toward a few FitzGerald projects, notably the renovations at 300 South Riverside Plaza. At 300 Riverside, FitzGerald worked with building management on a variety of improvements and expansions to the building’s ground floor amenities. Visible from the river is the new outdoor dining and seating areas that were added to the lobby’s restaurant space and the newly opened-up glass walls that provide excellent views of the river from inside the building. Elsewhere FitzGerald reconfigured restaurant spaces, relocated a newsstand and convenience store, built a conditioned outdoor smokers’ pavilion, and designed an all-new lobby lounge.
Further south, one can find a view of Printers Corner, which although located a block inland on South Wells and West Polk Streets is easily seen across the undeveloped riverside land north of Goldberg’s iconic River City. Like many high-density urban projects, the small corner location of Printer’s Corner demanded an attentive use of space to create the best possible product. By modifying the traditional rectangular building outline with ‘L’-shaped cutouts at each corner, the multi-faceted facade allows every single unit the benefit of being a much sought-after corner unit. Corner windows are also utilized in the building to give residents dramatic panoramic views of the city skyline and river.
In next month’s FitzNews, we’ll return to Wolf Point and head north toward Goose Island to check out River Bank Lofts, One River Place, River Village, Belmont River Club, River Residences, and River Residences II. Stay Tuned!