2515 South Wabash Loses a Water Tank

Chicago water tank 2515 South Wabash

This Chicago water tank sits, for now, atop 2515 South Wabash Avenue.

New today, on Tumblr:

On Tuesday the 15th, the City of Chicago issued a demolition permit for the water tank sitting atop 2515 South Wabash Avenue in the South Loop.

This one instantly became one of my favorites when I spotted it back in September because it’s a “character” tank. Not just one color, not just plain, but with distinct markings on it. In this case, it’s just a company name with some tagging. But that still distinguishes it from every other water tank in the city. Heck, from every other water in the world, for that matter.

2515 South Wabash Chicago Water Tank





150 North Riverside: A 2016 Update


150 N Riverside

How about that photo bomb by River Point? Wolf Point West sneaks in, too.

It hasn’t been a year since I’ve updated you on 150 North Riverside’s progress, but I haven’t updated you since last year, either, so it’s time to remedy that situation.

The biggest change since my November update, besides the obvious increase in height, is glass. Lots of glorious, shimmering, shiny glass. And not just a window here and there. The cladding has covered seven full floors so far, and is rapidly spreading higher.

Also a huge improvement, at least as far as I’m concerned, is the lighting at 150 after work crews have gone home. One of the outstanding features of next-door-neighbor River Point’s construction process has been the interior lights that have made it nothing short of radiant at night. 150 N Riverside hasn’t reached equal levels of luminosity, but it’s much prettier in the dark than it used to be.

But enough of the verbiage. You already know tons about this building, so let’s just cut straight to the pictures. Pictures are fun.


Could this be my new favorite Chicago water tank?

If you’re unfamiliar with Morgan Manufacturing in the Fulton River District, it’s a great event space occupying the old Salisbury Electric building at 401 North Morgan Street. Erected in 1855 (that’s pre-Great Chicago Fire!), it’s got a cool water tank atop the roof, a water tank made even cooler with a recently-completed paint job.

You can check out Morgan Mfg here.

1000 South Clark Street – From Dirt to Done

1000 South Clark 8-14

1000 South Clark Street in August of 2014, as the first crews and equipment got to work.

Dirt to done. Start to finish. Rendering to dwelling. That’s what I’ve been trying to capture over the past 15 or so months. Get to a proposed construction site while there are still cars parked in the lot, or when it’s mostly dirt, or even when the old buildings are still standing. Then watch things progress. Watch the caissons being drilled, see the foundations dug and poured, catch the first steel beams and glass windows. Watch the tower crane go up, then watch it come down.

1000 South Clark Street is among the projects I got to fairly early in the construction process. So early, in fact, that I thought the trucks parked in the dirt had no significance. Just parked there from other sites? (I had a lot to learn.)

1000 South Clark 12-14

1000 South Clark in early December, 2014. The entire construction site now fully involved.

When the tower cranes show up, then it’s a party. Glass is a big deal. As the outer shell rises, and windows are installed on the lower floors, working upwards.

1000 South Clark 6-15

Late June, 2015. Still lifting materials to height.

A building tops out, while glass installation continues. Once the exterior is completed, the focus moves to getting the interior ready for tenants or residents. Not as much fun to watch from the outside world, but a sure sign your building in grown up.

1000 South Clark has topped out, and the tower crane has moved on.

September 2015. 1000 South Clark has topped out, and the tower crane has moved on.

What’s left to be done? Perhaps landscaping, parking areas. There’s still plenty to see, you just won’t see it by looking up.

1000 South Clark ground level

From street level, there’s clearly much to be done even though 1000 South Clark has topped out.

1000 South Clark is on target for completion in February 2016. I’ll be back to get pictures of the fully-finished tower. Perhaps even from the inside. Looks like the kind of place where you’d enjoy living? Check out their website here.

It’s okay to love those buildings, even before they’re done

Moon and crane working high above 1001 South State Street

The moon guides a Walsh Construction working high above 1001 South State Street. One of my favorite shots.

In the days when I couldn’t be bothered to carry a camera around with me, I was content to look at trees and puppies and sunsets, as one does. If I went somewhere special, I could be persuaded to snap a shot or two of a particularly scenic venue. But over all, I was fine living with the images in my head.

Then, the iPhone era took over, and suddenly I was noticing things I’d never paid attention to. Buildings, bridges, a well-cooked steak. All were now items of fascination for me, things I’d want to look back on fondly. And now I had an easy means of doing so, because a camera could fit in my pocket, instead of a padded shoulder bag that made my back sweat.

My obsession with buildings (I never call it “architecture.” I know very little about “architecture,” but I love buildings) would soon morph into a love of the construction process. Not just the finished product itself, though I still thoroughly enjoy searching for new angles from which to photograph existing structures. But now, I like to document the progress that transforms an empty lot into a towering skyscraper. That means trying to get to that parking lot while the cars are still there, before any equipment comes in to start sampling the soil or drilling the caissons.

And what I’ve come to realize is this: the lines, the colors, the geometry of a construction site, often make for as compelling a photo shoot as the skyscraper itself. My favorites? You already know about 150 North Riverside. It’s teamed with River Point and Wolf Point West to create an amazing spectacle along the Chicago River I like to call The Riverbend Three. The construction at 1001 South State Street has also been fun to watch. So many lines (and a #mooncrane!) so little time.

Want to see what I see? Of course you do:



150 North Riverside Takes Center Stage

150 North Riverside

150 North Riverside

I Still love Aqua. I always will. But this building is fascinating to watch under construction. If you see her, tell her I’m sorry. (She won’t return my calls.) I’ll be back, but for now, I can’t walk away. Not all the way over to the New East Side, anyway.

I didn’t know anything about architecture and construction when I used to walk across the Lake Street bridge on a daily basis. I’d look down along the west river bank and wonder what the small oil derrick was doing in the lot next to the water. Soil sampling, I would find out later. Which would soon lead to some serious earth moving, and ultimately graduating to full-fledged major construction. And I would become obsessed.

150 North Riverside in Chicago is not your average skyscraper project. Maybe there wasn’t much fanfare getting things started; again, I didn’t know much about this city’s new buildings. This particular development got a huge shot the arm — and a hole in the hull — when crews loading mud and silt into a barge broke it in half and sunk it. Suddenly every media outlet in town headed to the Chicago River to see the latest saga in what had become a very bad year for Chicago barges. Citizens congregated on the Randolph and Lake Street bridges, discussing what had gone wrong and the best ways to mend the situation. And 150 North Riverside was officially on the map.

What happened next would be engineering magic. The muddy hole that additional, healthier barges hauled away gave way to steel and concrete and wood and cranes. Even cranes on barges. That didn’t sink. And the Clark Construction site that fascinated me because of a nautical mishap soon grabbed hold of my attention for a much more positive reason: that upside-down triangle of iron. That will soon support dozens of floors above. I haven’t taken photos of progress at 150 North Riverside every day, but I’ve come close to it. And I know this will one day be an amazing structure to behold. But right now, in its present state, I kinda wish it would stay unfinished for awhile. Like a child you’re not yet prepared to see grow up.

There’s still a long way to go for 150 North Riverside. The 1.2-million-square-foot, 53-story office tower, designed by Chicago firm Goettsch Partners, is expected to open in November of 2016, and already lists Hyatt Hotels and investment firm William Blair as future tenants. In the mean time, check out the website for more details and renderings. (Be sure to watch the video; this building and grounds will be spectacular.)



Riding the L: Let’s call it the Construction Line

Chicago construction from the Green Line train.

Chicago construction from the Green Line train.

Right now, Chicago Green-Line commuters have the best seats in the house (it’s a BIG house, too) for watching our many construction projects. Within 2 stops on either side of The Loop, riders can get up close and personal with five major building sites, and one L-station rehab:

150 North Riverside – South of the train on the west shore of the Chicago River

River Point – North of the train, on the west shore of the Chicago River (at 444 West Lake Street)

Wolf Point West – north of the train as you cross the river

171 North Halsted – Just west of the river on looking south from the train

1001 South State Street – in the South Loop on the west side of the train

Soon, you’ll be able to see a small portion of the Chicago Riverwalk construction as well, once it crawls toward Lake Street.