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Vista Tower rendering
Illustration: Courtesy Magellan Development Group

Here are the buildings that will change Chicago’s skyline

The Chicago skyline is getting some towering new additions—we rounded up the most striking forthcoming structures

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
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With cranes and scaffolding a common sight these days, there’s no question that new construction in Chicago is quite literally on the rise—especially in and around the Loop. “Building booms come in cycles,” says Jen Masengarb, the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s director of interpretation and research. “It all comes down to profit and what a piece of land can pay.”

The city's latest crop of beautiful buildings is already rising, though most won't welcome tenants for a few more years. In the meantime, we rounded up the projects that will have the biggest impact on Chicago's iconic skyline and asked Masengarb to explain how each of these structures will fit into its surroundings.

“The developer wants a signature piece that’s recognizable, but that’s also in good conversation with its neighbors,” Masengarb told us. We'll let you decide just how jarring these new skyscrapers will be once they're a permanent part of Chicago's storied architectural tradition.  

Vista Tower
Illustration: Courtesy Magellan Development Group

1. Vista Tower

The sights won’t get much better than from atop the 93-story Vista Tower (375 East Wacker Dr), a three-tiered skyscraper on the south bank of the Chicago River that will become the city’s third-largest building upon completion in 2020. Designed by local architect Jeanne Gang, the multi-colored structure is sure to become a fixture of Chicago River architecture tours (and you won't be able to miss it if you're driving north on Lake Shore Drive). Much like the Aqua Tower (also designed by Gang), the facade could be the most striking element. "It’s one of the few building that I think of in Chicago where the facade's color is going to change as it moves up the building," Masengarb said.

Illustration: Courtesy Magellan Development Group

One Bennett Park
Illustration: Courtesy Related Midwest

2. One Bennett Park

Dreamed up by Robert A.M. Stern (who is, coincidentally, the guy who designed all of Chicago's bus stops), One Bennett Park (451 East Grand Ave) is a departure from the sleek, glass-lined skyscrapers that are popping up throughout the Loop. The 69-story residential tower is scheduled to open in 2019, with its upper floors sporting a very distinctive design. "This is one of the first [new] tall buildings we’ll see that is lit up at the top," says Masengarb. "It’s easier to light stone than it is glass."

Illustration: Courtesy Related Midwest

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One Chicago Square
Illustration: Courtesy Goettsch Partners/HPA

3. One Chicago Square

Located in the former parking lot of Holy Name Cathedral, One Chicago Square (736 North State St) will turn the River North block into a towering new skyscraper, anchored by two residential towers (45 and 76 stories tall). The building will also house a grocery store, plenty of subterranean parking and a rooftop event space, located within eyeshot of Holy Name's iconic stained glass window.

Illustration: Courtesy Goettsch Partners/HPA

1000M
Illustration: Courtesy millerhare

4. 1000M

Springing up alongside Grant Park, 1000M (1000 South Michigan Ave) will offer sweeping views of Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago and other outdoor festivities. The 74-story building is scheduled to break ground in 2018, housing more than 300 luxury condominiums, as well as a sun deck with a pool, a private lounge, a spa and more luxe amenities. Renderings of the property boast a design that incorporates angular accents and a decidedly modern, curved tower. "I think it’s interesting that the gently-curved facade changes textures to match its neighbors," Masengarb told us.

Illustration: Courtesy millerhare

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One Grant Park
Illustration: Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects

5. One Grant Park

If all goes according to plan, One Grant Park (200 South Indiana Ave) will be the first of two giant buildings that will reshape the South Loop skyline. Once the 76-story, Willis Tower-inspired structure is completed in 2019, developer Crescent Heights has plans to build an even bigger tower next door. Located within walking distance of Chicago's Museum Campus, early city planners had lofty ideas about what to place on the land One Grant Park will reside on. "If you look back at the 1909 plan of Chicago that Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett drew up, in the renderings [there's] a near replica of the opera house in Paris," Masengarb says.

Illustration: Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects

110 North Wacker
Illustration: Courtesy Howard Hughes Corporation

6. 110 North Wacker

Goettsch Partners, the team behind the recently completed 150 North Riverside, is already at work on another building located along the Chicago River. 110 North Wacker echoes the industrial and pedestrian-friendly design of Goettsch's last project, with a walkway along the river and a small public park. The 52-story commercial building will replace the General Growth Building, the former headquarters of Morton Salt. "What’s coming down and what’s going up there could not be more different because both buildings speak to their era," Masengarb told us. "The fact that a five-story building in the Loop is not making enough money is a signal as to why that project is going forward."

Illustration: Courtesy Howard Hughes Corporation

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