Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
EMI Lead Chicago Tall-Building Study Trip
May 25 - 29, 2015
See more on CTBUH Beligum
See more CTBUH tours & visits
CHICAGO – A group of 20 Belgian real estate professionals traveled to Chicago from May 25 to 29 to visit several tall buildings, related developments, and design teams as part of a CTBUH Belgium study trip. Georges Binder, CTBUH Belgium Representative and Managing Director, Buildings & Data SA, joined with Executive Master Immobilier (EMI) in organizing and leading the trip. See below for a day-by-day recap of the trip.
Tour Attendees

Day One
The group arrived to Chicago and began their tour by visiting the Skydeck atop the 108-story Willis Tower in order to get a visual sense of the city and its context from an unparalleled vantage point.

Day Two
Taking advantage of a national holiday, the group spent their first full day visiting some of the city’s cultural attractions in order to further contextualize themselves within Chicago’s rich urban fabric. F.R. Rick Duran, Managing Partner at Archinomics Group, began the day with a presentation on the history and growth of the city over its nearly two-century existence.  Next, the group acquainted itself with the city by touring the river on a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise and visiting several cultural attractions including the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park.

Day Three
Day Three began with a visit to
Hines' River Point marketing suite at the 60-story 300 North LaSalle building. After an introduction by Grace Van Moer, Management Assistant, and David Moore, Director at Hines, the group had the opportunity to view the model of the River Point project as well as the construction site itself located across the Chicago River.

In between River Point and the Hines marketing suite stands Wolf Point, another
prominent river site co-developed by Hines.
As part of his presentation, Moore noted how both projects integrate themselves into the built environment, with specifics on the addition of a
David Moore, Director, Hines
platform on top of the adjacent Metra and Amtrack railroad tracks, and a riverside walkway and plaza partially funded by tax-increment financing.

After the Hines presentation, the group visited the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), where Dan Cubric, Associate Principal Architect at JAHN, led a tour of the IIT State Street Village, which is the newest dormitory found on the IIT campus. The low-rise, low-cost project designed by Helmut Jahn provides an array of communal spaces including semi-enclosed atriums and outdoor terraces.

Next, the group visited with CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood at the famous Crown Hall building designed by Mies van der Rohe, which is home to the Council. Wood gave a lively presentation entitled “Trends, Drivers and Challenges” full of statistics and facts about tall buildings, their growing numbers over the years, and their ever increasing height. Wood made the audience question some of their pre-conceived notions about skyscraper construction while summarizing the challenges facing the tall building industry and the difficulties of constructing well-designed buildings in site-specific locations.
In the afternoon, the group returned to the Gold Coast area in order to meet with Lucien Lagrange, a French architect based in Chicago for over 40 years. The meeting took the form of an informal discussion and walking tour. It started with the famous 1951 860-880 North Lake Shore Drive buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe and the neighboring 1965 Chestnut-Dewit designed by SOM. Lagrange continued with the next-door 840 North Lake Shore Drive that he completed a decade ago. After a short walk that covered several 1970s and 1980s mixed-use buildings such as Water Tower Place and Olympia Centre, the group was treated to a full visit of the 68-story Park Tower and the 60-story Waldorf-Astoria, both designed by Lagrange.
(Center) Lucien Lagrange
Day Four
May 27 started with a visit of the office of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG). The group met with Robert Forest, Managing Partner at AS+GG – a firm known for designing the “world’s tallest building.” Though the supertall projects designed by AS+GG certainly caught the attention of the group, they were equally interested in learning about the Chicago DeCarbonization Plan studied by AS+GG, which is mechanism for maintaining the economic and cultural vitality of the urban core from an energy and carbon perspective. The group also learned about another sustainable project, Masdar Headquarters, a low-rise development located in Abu Dhabi, and designed as the world’s first mixed-use, positive-energy building. At the end of the presentation Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill joined the group to exchange a few words.
(Left) Robert Forest, Managing Partner, AS+GG Architecture, and (right) Georges Binder, CTBUH Belgium Representative and Managing Director, Buildings & Data SA
In the afternoon, the group met with John A. Buck, Chairman and CEO of The John Buck Company, on the top level of one of his achievements – the 45-story 155 North Wacker designed by Goettsch Partners. Buck’s presentation focused on how the company successfully evolved through several decades, depending on shifts in the market and diverse opportunities in virtually all types of real estate projects, with a focus on tall office buildings.
(Center) John A. Buck, Chairman and CEO, John Buck Company
Day Five
Day five started with a visit to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), one of the oldest and most famous architectural practices in Chicago. Jeffrey J. McCarthy, Managing Partner at SOM, together with his colleagues Thomas Hussey, Director, and Lynn Boeke, Associate Director, led a tour of the SOM office and offered a presentation focusing on master and city planning.
The group next visited the 98-story Trump International Hotel & Tower designed by SOM and completed in 2009. There, they had the opportunity to view hotel interiors as well as some high-perched mechanical areas, and discovered how the building meets the ground level along the façade, accommodating the hotel and residential main entrances. It was also interesting to learn that the building opened in phases, a novel opportunity at the time.
(Center) Jeffrey J. McCarthy, Managing Partner, SOM
In the afternoon, the group met with John O’Donnell, the CEO of Riverside Investment & Development, the organization behind 150 North Riverside, a 50-story office tower designed by Goettsch Partners currently under construction along the Chicago River. The group learned about the challenges associated with the building site. The tower addresses tight constraints of the Chicago River on the east and train tracks on the west. Utilizing a core-supported structure, the design features a small building footprint that opens the ground plane and allows for a dramatic, light-filled lobby while supporting efficient, column-free office floors above.
(Left) John O’Donnell, CEO, Riverside Investment & Development
Facing Millennium Park sits 300 East Randolph, a 57-story building designed by Goettsch Partners, which the group visited along with its architect James Goettsch. 300 East Randolph is a two-phase, vertically expanded office tower primarily serving as the headquarters for the Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) and its subsidiary, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Goettsch explained that he designed a flexible solution for an office tower that could be expanded vertically in phases as HCSC continued to grow. The plan involved architectural, structural, MEP, and elevator work in the first phase to accommodate vertical expansion. Phase one, completed in 1997, provided 1.43 million square feet (133,000 square meters) of space in 33 stories, while phase two, completed in 2010, completes the building with an additional 24 stories and 920,000 square feet (85,000 square meters) of space. The initial foundations and structure were planned, designed and constructed to support the fully expanded building; additional riser space was also provided in order to accommodate independent mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems for the expansion floors.
(Center) James Goettsch,Founder, Goettsch Partners
Day Six
The final day of the trip began with a meeting with architect Francisco J. Gonzalez-Pulido, President of JAHN. While Gonzalez-Pulido described a series of well-known tall buildings and airports designed by the firm over the years while touring the JAHN studio, the group also had the opportunity to learn about a series of low-rise projects, some in Chicago, many in Germany, and one in Brussels, completed by the firm. The visit to Chicago ended a little bit like it started, with a visit to the observation deck above the 100-story John Hancock Center.

(Center) Francisco J. Gonzalez-Pulido, President, JAHN

Name Company Position
Ecrepont Nicolas A2RC Architects Architect
De Coster Alain AG Real Estate Group Chief Investment Officer
Duran F R Rick Archinomics Group Managing Director
Chevalier Renaud ASSAR Architects CEO
Ysebrant Eric ASSAR Architects Founder and President
Van Overbeke Marguerite Brussels-Capital Region Counselor
Binder Georges Buildings & Data SA/CTBUH Belgium Managing Director / Country Representative
Vanthuyne Fabienne CITW - Center for Touristic Engineering Wallonia Policy Officer
Renneboog Nathalie CityDev Brussels Director
Vincke Frederic Cofinimmo Project Manager
Badot Pierre DTZ Belgium Partner – Director Head of Agency
Bohlke Anders EMI Executive Master Immobilier Program Manager
Lasserre Christian EMI Executive Master Immobilier Academic Director
Mairesse Cécile EMI Executive Master Immobilier Program Officer
Polet Lénaïc European Commission Contract Manager
Mertens Laurent Loyens & Loeff Lawyer Counsel
Paulus Jacqueline Redevco Belgium Property Manager
Delgouffre Laurent SOGERIM Construction Managing Director
De Bettencourt Abraham TREVI group Broker, Sales associate
Mattart Thierry Independent Real Estate agent