Kris Bryant fills the Chicago River with baseballs

Kris Bryant, with his BP pitcher Juan Cabreja, survey the outfield. Which is actually the Chicago River.

As far as PR stunts go, this one wasn’t bad.

Kris Bryant of the Cubs put on his jersey and took batting practice on the lawn at River Point Plaza. With Chicagoans lined up along the Lake Street Bridge, Wacker Drive, and the Chicago Riverwalk, he took swings and launched fly balls into the Chicago River with River Point tower providing the backdrop. This was a Red Bull event, so there was plenty of pomp and circumstance, including reps with backpack coolers handing out energy drinks, and a hyperbole-obsessed MC who let the crowd know at least 174 times that this kind of thing had never been done before.

I was there, and I took some pictures and video from a distance.


150 North Riverside. November Update

150 N Riverside

River Point and 150 North Riverside continue to grow up together, like your new neighbors’ kids.

A minor setback has done little to slow down progress at 150 North Riverside. The first Monday of November shows 14 (and a half?) floors have been added atop the upside-down-pyramid-shaped base. I left the house for work without my camera, but seeing the way the sun was hitting the tower, I whipped out the ever-present iPhone and snapped a few shots on the way to the brown line.

Did you need an update? Probably not. Can I walk by on a morning this beautiful without taking pictures? Absolutely not. So here you go…

150 North Riverside, Cont’d

150 North Riverside as of Monday, September 21.

150 North Riverside as of Monday, September 21.

You didn’t ask me for more pictures of 150 North Riverside, but they’re still building, so…

Checking up on the Riverbend Three

The Riverbend Three

The Riverbend Three

I wasn’t away for long, but I was away. And in the construction trade, a week out of The Loop (no pun intended) means things will look very different the next time you drop by.

I may not share pictures on a daily basis from 150 N. Riverside, et al, but rest assured, I take ’em daily. So missing a week’s worth of progress on The Riverbend Three was quite noticeable. Not just at 150, but at the now-topped-out Wolf Point West, and the tower at River Point as well. So let’s get you caught up.

150 N Riverside

150 N Riverside, starting to head straight skyward.

That sweet tapering steel work at 150 North Riverside we’ve all been gawking at for the past several weeks has stopped flaring outward and is going vertical. Remember, this will grow to 54 stories when all is said and done, some time in early 2017.

150 N Riverside

On the last day of August, before that first layer of vertical steel.

That means we still have a lot of time to watch the core grow, followed by additional iron work as this glorious office tower continues to sprout skyward.

River Point, 444 West Lake Street

River Point, at 444 W Lake Street, has started adding glass.

River Point, 444 West Lake Street, at night

River Point at night.

The excitement at River Point (444 West Lake Street) not only involves the continuing challenge to gravity, but also the replacement of its shroud of secrecy with gleaming glass. That’s especially fun to watch on a building that curves the way River Point curves. If you look to the right end of said glass, there appears to be the beginnings of an archway similar to that facing the Chicago River. I can root against the Cardinals while still liking those archways, right? It’s not like I prefer St Louis-style ribs to Chicago pizza.

And while I wish I could see what’s going on within the structure work during the day, the view of River Point at night makes all the extra clothing seem worth it. It looks like a giant luminary floating down the Chicago River.

Wolf Point West

The 48-story Wolf Point West

Expected to open this Fall, there remains a considerable amount of work to be done on Wolf Point West, but the 48-story rental tower topped out back in July, and the tower crane came down just a couple weeks ago. Those are nice balconies, but with two more towers coming in the Wolf Point project, will there be views left to enjoy?

There was a “hard-hat tour” of Wolf Point West back in August, and I missed it. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat put the event together in conjunction with the builder, McHugh Construction. Invitees got to put on hard hats and goggles and take photos, not only of the tower and its interior, but also of the views looking out across Chicago and the Chicago River. I’m still bummed I couldn’t be there.

The uppermost floors of Wolf Point West await glass.

The uppermost floors of Wolf Point West await glass.

Remember, with 150 North Riverside expected to be complete in 2017, and two more towers still to come at Wolf Point, the river bend will be an active construction site for years to come. Stay tuned.

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.)



Replacing The Chicago River Barge


This gallery contains 9 photos.

When a good friend moves away, leaving you with no forwarding address, no means of contact, and no promise of so much as a post card, it’s hard not to wander back to the scene and relive those precious memories. Continue reading