Thursday, November 15, 2007

I fell in to a phallic twisted spire. I went down, down, down....

Now that the US Green Building Council's annual conference, GreenBuild, has finally wound down, I thought it might be a good time to look at the city.

Believe it or not Chicago built its first skyscraper over 122 years ago, so the city isn't new to revolutionary design (and while I'm sure there is a ton of residential work taking place, I'm going to concentrate on corporate commercial). And the city is going green crazy. Chicago now boasts 200 developments either registered or certified as LEED buildings.

So what do they have to offer?

For starters, there's 111 South Wacker. It became Chicago's first Gold LEED-CI certified tower in 2005. The 51-story, blue-glass, 1.3 million-square-foot office building has the LEED basics: energy-efficient lighting, healthy paints and carpeting, and locally sourced materials. It sits on the site of the former U.S. Gypsum Building and unfortunately, previous plans to use the existing building's supports were scrapped in favor of a full demolition.

300 North LaSalle will have 60 stories and, more importantly, LEED Gold Pre-Certification. Situated on the banks of the Chicago River, the views are sure to be amazing. The stainless steel and glass fa├žade almost dip into the water due to its proximity. There are a crazy amount of pictures available HERE.

After that, there's the 40-story tower at One South Dearborn, the second office tower in Chicago to attain LEED certification. In March of 2006, the tower received Silver certification in the LEED Core and Shell program and also won the NAIOP Award from the USGBC.

340 On the Park, completed in 2007, has 350 condominiums and two green roofs into 62 floors, making it the second tallest residential structure in the US. It was also the first residential tower in the Midwest to win silver LEED certification and has some great views of local parks, including Millennium Park, Grand Park, and the Park at LSE, all of whom helped the building earn LEED points.

330 N. Wabash Ave, constructed in 1973, lost 50% of its tenants in early 2006 when IBM moved its headquarters closer to Union Station. Fears escalated at the thought of the building losing that many people in that short of a period of time, but the owners wisely began converting the building into condominiums. Recently, the building was awarded a TOBY award for reducing their pollution by over 38,000 pounds and implementing a tenant shuttle bus program for service to the building from commuter train stations. Additionally, the building has also received recognition from the organization Clean Air Counts.

The Sears Tower and the Merchandise Mart are prepped for LEED certification, thanks to the Mayor and President Clinton. Their aim is to show that most buildings, regardless of age, can be retrofitted to accept green accessories. With Merchandise Mart laying it's foundation almost 80 years ago, this will be a project to watch. Not to mention, the building has it's own zip code (seriously, 60654). How do you green that much space?!?! Plans are already in the work to start construction on a green roof and I can't wait to see what will happen to Chicago's other landmark buildings.

The Wentworth Commons, winner of one of Mayor Daley's GreenWorks awards in 2006, uses photovoltaic panels and an integrated heat recovery system, non-toxic/recycled building materials, utilizes a light colored paving system in the parking lot and a reflective roof, and was even built on a brownfield.

McCormick Place West, which opened under budget in August is slated as the largest convention center in the US. It's original structure was finished in 1960, but burned to the ground shortly thereafter. The Lakeside Center was constructed in 1971 to replace the burned remains, until the North Building was constructed in 1986 and connected to the main structure with a walkable bridge. THEN, the South Building opened in 1997 with over a million square feet of its own. Finally, the aptly named West Building was August of 2007, adding another 2.7 million square feet. You think this might have anything to do with their bid for the Olympics in 2016?

Chicago's City Hall had a wonderful roof garden installed in 2001. I think it might be safe to say (now) that the roof was installed to test the concept for the entire city, given the technology was new(er) at the time. By the government initiating installation, it obviously sparked the interest of developers. Unfortunately, the roof is not open to the public, as it's protected by very narrow stairwells.

Last, but most certainly not least, is my favorite little phallus in the sky: The Chicago Spire. Although ground was just recently broken, I'm excite. This will be, by far, one of the most amazing views in all of Chicago (when complete in 2011). Located on the edge of the LSD, it'll peer down on every inch of the Windy City. I'd love to connect you directly to their panoramic link, but the site is drunk with flash. Go to their main site, click on THE BUILDING on the left hand side, then hit PANORAMAS. You get an awesome 360 degree view from where the site will be.

I don't know about any sustainable attributes of the building, but I'm assuming it has the basics, considering all Chi-town building now need mandatory minimum LEED credits. The base of the building, however, takes into consideration the massive amount of wind blowing on-shore. The twisting spire acts like tunnel, sucking the wind skyward instead of pushing it downward.