An Urban Sanctuary in Chicago’s Loop

At the intersection of the 200 blocks of Lake and Wells in Chicago’s Loop, a glass-clad residential tower now soars above cubed concrete-and-steel parking deck below. Aptly named 200 Squared, it’s a 42-story residential tower that’s the work of Jim Curtin, principal in Solomon Cordwell Buenz.

It’s perched one block off Wacker, with views of the lake, the river and surrounding landmarks by Perkins & Will, Kohn Pedersen Fox and the Burnham Brothers.  Moreover, 200 Squared is a sanctuary that at once knits itself into the urban fabric of the city while simultaneously floating above it.

Residential units commence 11 stories on top of the parking deck, the sounds of traffic and the elevated train quietly muffled below.  The firm ordered an acoustic study prior to construction, paying close attention to the results and detailing the building’s exterior for the comfort of its residents.  Pools and amenity decks overlook landscapes mounded with trees, grasses and groundcovers.

“We can offer this wonderful contrast of being in the heart of the city, with the Illinois Center, the river, the theater district and public transit below — and this pleasant place to live above,” the architect said.  “We looked at maximizing views in all directions, upper and lower, so that the viewing corridors could be preserved.”

Floor to ceiling glass in the rental apartments open up river and city vistas, while bamboo walls in a two-story lobby, clad horizontally, offer light, warmth and calm over slate floors.  “Even the entry doors are bamboo,” Jim said.  “They’re there to make you pause and think about where you are before you come in.”

Retail shops anchor and animate the streetscape at ground level, while a perforated metal screening mesh for the garage provides a bold and pleasing horizontal grid during the day – and one that glows delicately at night.

“It’s a series of planes, crisp and organized,’ Jim said.  “It’s a fresh insertion into an urban fabric.  Once inside, it’s a wonderful place to live.  Just outside is a wealth of urban activities.”

On top of all that, the firm will soon be applying for LEED certification.

For more on 200 Squared, go to

For more on Solomon Cordwell Buenz, go to

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