Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
150 North Riverside Holiday Tour

December 16, 2016

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CHICAGO – As an annual tradition, CTBUH HQ staff are given a tour of a notable tall building during their holiday celebrations. This year, the staff visited the under-construction 150 North Riverside by Goettsch Partners, which, rising near the confluence of the three branches of the Chicago River, is one of the most high-profile office developments of this cycle. It is notable for its unique design in response to challenging site constraints. With a city-mandated River Walk on one side and an Amtrak easement on the other, the building rises from a narrow portion of its plot and utilizes large V-shaped mega-columns to cantilever over the remainder of the site.

The group gathered at the Boeing International Headquarters building next door to receive their personal protective equipment and meet the tour guides from Goettsch Partners, James Goettsch, CEO and Partner; Joachim Schuessler, Senior Associate; and Matt Larson, Chief Marketing Officer.

 Site constraints led to a cantilever over the River Walk.

Before beginning the tour in earnest, Schuessler and Goettsch briefed the staff on the design and developmental history of the building, describing the various ways in which the unique site constraints impacted the tower’s architecture. Schuessler remarked on the building’s slimness: “I think one of the really interesting aspects is the slenderness ratio of the building, which at 1:20 is the maximum you can do in a building – and Magnusson Klemencic Associates, the structural engineers, they are very proud of it.”

The extreme slenderness of the tower necessitates a tuned mass damper at the top of the tower, which uses a calibrated liquid tank to offset lateral loads. At the time of the tour, it had already been sealed off and was therefore not visible. Schuessler joked: “We were thinking about making it a fish tank, but the developer wasn’t open to that.”

Goettsch discussed the myriad challenges of assembling the site and gaining approval for the tower. Adding to that was the fact that the developer, John O’Donnell, started his own company to see the project through. Goettsch praised this, saying: “For somebody to start an organization from nothing and end up with a project like this in a short period of time is pretty amazing.”

150 North Riverside has a 1:20 slenderness ratio.

Exiting the Boeing building, the tour group crossed Randolph Street and entered the construction site. From there, they walked across the podium of the tower along the river before entering the building through a service entrance on its north side. Once inside, the first stop was the 52nd floor, the highest occupiable space in the tower. There, the group was treated to incredible views of the surrounding city, with architectural icons visible in all directions. Two outdoor terraces created photo opportunities, and offered a spot for a full group photo.
CTBUH staff pose with James Goettsch and Joachim Schuessler for a group photo on an outdoor terrace on the 52nd floor.

Once everyone had their fill of the unique viewing opportunities, the tour continued on lower levels. On floors six and seven, the group toured some back of house areas as well as space for a workout facility. Additionally, they were exposed to views out of the angled glass from this vantage point. On the north and east sides of the building, this created great opportunities to see the streets and river below along with the routine passage of CTA Green and Pink trains.

Descending towards ground level, the tour entered the lobby through a mezzanine level to allow for a full view of the expansive space. Fully enclosed with glass mesh walls, the seven-story lobby was awash with construction workers finalizing details, such as a media wall below the western glass exposure.

View from the 52nd floor toward Lake Michigan.

The project includes the largest steel sections in the world.

Before returning to the lobby for a final stop, the group traveled below-grade to the conference and restaurant space fronting the River Walk. While mostly unfinished, the group was able to appreciate the size and scale of public and semi-public space planned for the riverfront.

Once back in the lobby, CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood shared a copy of the CTBUH book 100 of the World’s Tallest Buildings with the guides from Goettsch Partners as a token of appreciation. With the tour now complete, they returned to CTBUH HQ at the Monroe Building for some additional festivities!

Antony Wood (left) presents a CTBUH book to James Goettsch (center) and Joachim Schuessler (right). CTBUH staff pose for a group photo on the mezzanine level of the lobby.