OneEleven in Chicago

Photo of OneEleven in Chicago, Illinois
Drawing of the May 1, 2012 revision of the 111 West Wacker skyscraper from Handel Architects
Photo of OneEleven in Chicago, Illinois
Drawing of the May 1, 2012 revision of the 111 West Wacker skyscraper from Handel Architects
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Photo of OneEleven in Chicago, Illinois
Drawing of the May 1, 2012 revision of the 111 West Wacker skyscraper from Handel Architects
Photo of OneEleven in Chicago, Illinois
Drawing of the May 1, 2012 revision of the 111 West Wacker skyscraper from Handel Architects

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OneEleven
Formerly:111 West Wacker
Formerly:Waterview Tower

111 West Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60601
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Text by Wayne Lorentz

Amid much hype and fanfare, construction of this skyscraper began in 2005 with promises of adding another supertall trophy skyscraper to the Chicago skyline.

It was going to be massive -- 92 stories and 1,047 feet tall. With a luxury Asian hotel sandwiched between a parking garage and a collection of very large high-end condominiums with some of the best views in the city. Views that could never be taken away.

Construction continued briskly as this was going to be not only the first American hotel for the Shangri-La chain, but the showcase headquarters for the building's architect, Teng and Associates. But then suddenly work just stopped.

The 2008 economic crisis hit this building hard. In spite of several attempts to get the money needed to start construction again, it never happened. The hotel backed out, and the city was left with a 25-story concrete skeleton gathering dust right in the center of downtown's most visible skyscraper corridor.

After years of rumors and wishful thinking, in 2011 this property was bought by Related Midwest. It got together with the groups who were still owed money by the previous owners and put together 111 West Wacker Partners. In June of 2012 that group went to the city with its new plan for the tower -- a smaller, more realistic building that could be built in the cooler economic environment of 2012.

The revised tower plan is only 59 stories tall, and 630 feet. It's not even taller than its next-door neighbor, the United Building. But what it lacks in height, it makes up for in viability. The building's position was switched from luxury condominiums and hotel guests to rental apartments -- something of a safe bet at the time.

Once completed, the building will bear no resemblance to the slender shaft rising into the sky that was the old building. The new one is shorter, wider, and gets along with the neighbors. Its massing is broken up by inset cubic shafts and the use of varying kinds of glass, but it is essentially a glass box. And while that's not exciting, it's at least not embarrassing like the carcass of a half-built skyscraper lying next to the Chicago River.

Quick Facts
Timeline
  • October 2, 2005: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announced it would locate its first American hotel in this tower.
  • January, 2006: Construction began.
  • November, 2007 - A construction worker plummeted down the elevator shaft to his death.
  • April, 2008: Construction reached the 27th floor.
  • July 15, 2008: After weeks of construction being on hold, Crain's Chicago Business reports that a $340 million loan package that could restart construction is being worked on.
  • November 5, 2008: Crain's Chicago Business reports that a bank loan necessary to re-start construction of this tower has been put on hold.
  • December 5, 2008: A fire broke out on the highest floor of the incomplete building. WLS radio reports that it was construction material that caught fire.
  • February, 2009: The Chicago Tribune reported that the Shangri-La hotel chain decided to back out of its plan to open a hotel in this building.
  • November 13, 2010: Crain's Chicago Business reported that there is a plan to turn the planned 90-story residential tower into a 60-story office tower.
  • April 3, 2011: Shaun Walters, of Ottawa, Illinois, parachuted from the 26th floor of the unfinished building.
  • July 26, 2011: Related Midwest purchased the incomplete shell of the building with plans to complete the structure as a 65-story luxury apartment building.
  • June 21, 2012: 111 West Wacker Partners presented its plan to revive this project as a 59-story residential skyscraper to the Chicago planning board.
Quotations
  • "We took great care to find the very best location and building for our American debut. We believe the Waterview Tower is the ideal launching pad for our brand within the U.S. Our reputation has been built over three decades in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, expanding into Canada, Europe and Australia through our recently announced projects in Vancouver, London and Sydney, and we are extremely delighted that our signature warm and gracious style of Asian hospitality will first be introduced to America in Chicago."

    -Giovanni Angelini, C.E.O., Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

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