A New Legacy for Millennium Park

General / People / Places / August 23, 2010

At 72 stories high and 840 feet tall, John Lahey’s new Legacy at Millennium Park in Chicago is an elegant, glass-clad and noticeable addition to the Chicago skyline.

“I don’t think Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) has done an all-glass building since the firm did Harbor Point and Edgewater in the early 1970s,” John said. “This one is a curtain wall with very little articulation on it. We felt it was a very simple, clean and appropriate response.”

SCB was founded in 1931, and since the 1950s has been a major contributor to Chicago’s soaring collection of ambitious skyscrapers. The Legacy at Millennium Park, though, provided an unusual set of challenges, beginning with a wedge-shaped site at Wabash Avenue and Monroe Street.

“The site’s on a corner,” John said. “We had to incorporate an existing structure – the Champlain Building that the Art Institute of Chicago owns – into it. And then the city deemed that the façade on Wabash had to stay – it’s a series of narrow, vacant buildings.”

His solution was to work from the inside out – to leave the facades, but construct the building behind them. “It’s a very small footprint,” he said. We couldn’t get to it from the outside, and the facades made access very difficult.”

The result is a building whose inspiration was derived from the techniques used to address the difficulties of its site. “It was the result of that problem-solving process,” he said. “There were a lot of pragmatic factors. We had to form the mass first, and then articulate the exterior – the simpler, the better.”

With condominiums above, the Legacy is about as mixed use as possible below. Retail shops populate the ground level while a sky bridge connects the development to the University Club of Chicago, and seven parking level for residents.

The modern tower seamlessly integrates into the restored Jewelers Row Historic District storefronts at street level, then nods respectfully with its restored terracotta façade entrance.

Views from the tower two- and three-bedroom condos overlook Lake Michigan and Millennium Park, with work by both Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano in view. One-bedroom condos overlook the Chicago skyline.

The architect added a pair of two-story common “getaway” areas, with decks, atop the north and south ends. At 1,500 square feet, they’re available to all tenants, and offer views of the park, the lake and the city.

The condos are nearly complete and already 90 percent sold.

For more on the Legacy at Millennium Park, go to http://www.thelegacyatmillenniumpark.com/luxury-condominiums-in-chicago/

For more on Solomon Cordwell Buenz, go to http://www.scb.com/

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Michael Welton

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on August 23, 2010

This building is really amazing — the restoration of the store fronts is beautiful, and you have to look up to notice a multi-story building is even there. SCB also designed Info Commons at Loyola, which is definitely worth checking out.

on August 23, 2010

This is a truly beautiful building that literally rises up above the rest in the area. The sleek structure is breathtaking, even in pictures.

on August 23, 2010

I love this building as well! I always like to see a building that recognizes it surroundings, and this one does it on so many different levels. It’s a great addition to the Chicago Skyline, but the street-level view is just as impressive.

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