Chicago

Chicago is a city of culture, history, commerce, and distinct neighborhoods, which over 2.7 million people call home.

image courtesy of flickr user Phil Roeder

Chicago is a city second to none

In addition to the 2.7 million people living within the city limits, the Chicagoland region houses nearly 9.5 million people and is the third largest region in the US. The city also brings in an incredible number of both international and domestic visitors per year, with 46.37 million visiting Chicago in 2012.

Chicago’s Loop neighborhood has the challenge of being overly focused on work at the current time. One of the biggest areas of potential the city has is to diversify the Loop to create a neighborhood that doesn’t only exist during standard business hours.

  • 1853

    Elisha Graves Otis shows his first elevator in the Crystal Palace, New York City, 1853.
  • 1862

    President Lincoln signs the Pacific Railroad Act, routing the transcontinental railroad through Chicago. As a result, Chicago emerges as the “capital” of the midwest.
  • 1871

    The Great Chicago Fire destroys 3.3 square miles of Chicago. The Chicago Water Tower is one of the three buildings to survive the fire.
  • 1873

    Daniel Hudson Burnham (left) and John Wellborn Root (right) partner to form the architecture office Burnham and Root.
  • 1880

    John Augar Holabird and John Wellborn Root take over the firm Holabird and Roche and rename it Holabird and Root.
  • 1892

    The first Chicago elevated (“el”) opens running between Congress and 39th Streets. This marks the beginning of Chicago’s rapid transit system.
  • 1909

    Daniel H. Burnham issues his “Plan of Chicago” as a solution to tame the city’s “explosive--yet haphazard--growth.” “Every citizen should be within walking distance of a park.”
  • 1936

    Louis Skidmore and Nathaniel Owings (later joined by John Merill) form the firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merill LLP.
  • 1938

    Mies van der Rohe leaves his position as the last director of the German Bauhaus. Mies arrives in Chicago to assume the directorship at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
  • 1989

    Richard M. Daley is elected mayor of Chicago. Mayor Daley plays a key role in the appearance of public art throughout Chicago.
image courtesy of flickr user Tripp

HOW CAN WE ACTIVATE AND ENCOURAGE MORE DYNAMIC CONNECTIONS?

By exploring the history and current conditions of work in Chicago, we can begin to make predictions and hypotheses of the future of work in Chicago.

We divided Chicago’s primary downtown working neighborhoods into four distinct regions to explore: Old Commerce, Old Finance, Class A, and New Work. While there are additional areas of interest (including the South Loop, West Loop, etc…), we have focused our study on the Loop, Chicago’s traditional central business district.

Work today needs to blend both a smart environment for working in, along with amenities that help balance work and life. Furthermore, this way of working is critical right now as multiple facets of education demand to be reformed. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg puts it, “The dynamic of managing people and being CEO in a company is a lot different than being college roommates with someone.”

  • Neighborhood Study

    New Work

    Average Number of Stories: 5.74
    Average Building Percent Leased: 94%
    Average Year Built: 1920
    Average Year Renovated: 1991

    Total Rentable Building Area: 18,527,027SF
    Total Available Space: 1,589,960SF

    Neighborhood Percent Leased: 92%
  • Neighborhood Study

    Class A

    Class A

    Average Number of Stories: 8.37
    Average Building Percent Leased: 64%
    Average Year Built: 1952
    Average Year Renovated: 1997

    Total Rentable Building Area: 43,322,572SF
    Total Available Space: 5,334,744SF

    Neighborhood Percent Leased: 82%
  • Neighborhood Study

    Old Financial

    Average Number of Stories: 22.2
    Average Building Percent Leased: 87%
    Average Year Built: 1939
    Average Year Renovated: 1992

    Total Rentable Building Area: 25,938,401SF
    Total Available Space: 4,916,055SF

    Neighborhood Percent Leased: 86.5%
  • Neighborhood Study

    Old Commerce

    Average Number of Stories: 19
    Average Building Percent Leased: 90%
    Average Year Built: 1930
    Average Year Renovated: 1970

    Total Rentable Building Area: 45,818,833SF
    Total Available Space: 6,839,507SF

    Neighborhood Percent Leased: 90%
image courtesy of flickr user Seth Anderson

Case Study

Wabash Corridor

In the Old Commerce section of Chicago’s Loop, along what is also referred to as the Wabash Corridor, there are fourteen different universities, multiple iconographic cultural icons, a large number of both major corporations and startups, and a vast number of other resources that help blend education, work, culture, and life.

“Revitalizing Wabash Avenue has the potential to increase pedestrian access and connectivity to the Loop for the millions of visitors to Millennium Park every year. Wabash Avenue will highlight and celebrate the iconic ‘L’.”
-Chicago Loop Alliance Strategic Plan

BLENDING LAYERS TO ACTIVATE NEW SPACE

  • Live/Work Model

    We propose a new shift from the traditional model of education and working, which includes learning in the term time, and working in the summer holidays, to a new blended model of gradually phasing into work.
  • Learn/Live Model

    Additionally, a shift in the learning and living models also demands a blended model that balances the two.
  • Play/Live Model

    We believe this can happen in a place that brings together schools, culture, work, and character.
  • STRATEGY

    VIEW OPPORTUNITY

    The current view east towards Millenium Park reveals amazing architecture, open green space, and glimpses of the lake. However, the tracks for Chicago’s El act as a major barrier in having a clear view towards the park.
  • STRATEGY

    VIEW OPPORTUNITY

    The current view east towards Millenium Park reveals amazing architecture, open green space, and glimpses of the lake. However, the tracks for Chicago’s El act as a major barrier in having a clear view towards the park.
  • STRATEGY

    VIEW OPPORTUNITY

    The current view east towards Millenium Park reveals amazing architecture, open green space, and glimpses of the lake. However, the tracks for Chicago’s El act as a major barrier in having a clear view towards the park.
  • STRATEGY

    CORNER OPPORTUNITY

    By opening and extending the corner, we create a new type of small urban space which both allows for views down the streets and creates unique pockets for exploring and gathering.
  • STRATEGY

    CORNER OPPORTUNITY

    By opening and extending the corner, we create a new type of small urban space which both allows for views down the streets and creates unique pockets for exploring and gathering.
  • STRATEGY

    CORNER OPPORTUNITY

    By opening and extending the corner, we create a new type of small urban space which both allows for views down the streets and creates unique pockets for exploring and gathering.
  • STRATEGY

    OPPORTUNITIES OF THE TRACK

    By understanding the different track forms of the el, we can hypothesize different ways of bridging a connection between the track and neighboring buildings. Additionally, there is the possibility of using the track as lighting, either for entertainment, wayfinding or safety. Perhaps there is even a possibility for reducing track noise through new modifications.
  • STRATEGY

    OPPORTUNITIES OF THE TRACK

    By understanding the different track forms of the el, we can hypothesize different ways of bridging a connection between the track and neighboring buildings. Additionally, there is the possibility of using the track as lighting, either for entertainment, wayfinding or safety. Perhaps there is even a possibility for reducing track noise through new modifications.
  • STRATEGY

    OPPORTUNITIES OF THE TRACK

    By understanding the different track forms of the el, we can hypothesize different ways of bridging a connection between the track and neighboring buildings. Additionally, there is the possibility of using the track as lighting, either for entertainment, wayfinding or safety. Perhaps there is even a possibility for reducing track noise through new modifications.
  • STRATEGY

    OPPORTUNITIES OF THE TRACK

    By understanding the different track forms of the el, we can hypothesize different ways of bridging a connection between the track and neighboring buildings. Additionally, there is the possibility of using the track as lighting, either for entertainment, wayfinding or safety. Perhaps there is even a possibility for reducing track noise through new modifications.

Mixing Layers

The blending of live, work, and play, both vertically and horizontally, will allow the Wabash Corridor to flourish with new life throughout the entire day and year.

  • Program

    Site Context

  • Program

    Ground Level

  • Program

    Train Level

  • Program

    Typical Level

  • Program

    Tower Level

  • Realization

    Ground Level

  • Realization

    Track Level

  • Realization

    Typical Level

  • Realization

    Tower Level

Chicago Credits

Next Up

× Gensler – Chicago

Tim Jacobson
Kiet Ta
Sarah Jacobson
Brian Hungerford
Lindsey Feola
Michael Pecirno
Amelia Tabeling
Ling Yi Tseng
Chris Anderson
Nikola Krcmarevic
Ashley Wendela
Joshua Vitulli
Melissa Mayer
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