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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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
  • 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.
  • "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

Rate This Skyscraper
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Your Thoughts

There are 22 comments.

  Reading these old entries about this building is great fun, as I work in the building right next door to this crumbling hulk (and we are trying to figure out what the heck they are doing in there right now, BTW - there's a huge cran on top, and is looks as if it's slowly being disassembled).This one from 3/21/2006 takes the cake:"There were many doubters that this project would ever come to fruition and I'm glad that they were proven wrong." *snerk* What a waste of a nice parking lot!

sundevilpeg - Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 @ 1:56pm  

  Doubtless I do not have the best interests of the developers at heart, but I'd rather like to see 111 W. Wacker completed only to the height of its present shell, approximately matching the cornice height of the Builders Building and the setback of the LaSalle-Wacker Building. This would preserve the view from (and toward) the west of 77 West Wacker.If that happens, the design will doubtless need to be modified to include a hangar for flying pigs.That said, the proposed 59-story completion looks rather handsome in the renderings, presenting some interesting large-scale detail to break up the blockiness. Something this consipcuous really needs to be done right.

Alan Follett - Monday, September 3rd, 2012 @ 9:35am  

  It has been 5 years and 2 months since I last commented on this building. Now that they have said this month that it will be a 65 story apartment building, I hope it has a good design since it is next to the riverfront. The tower is expected to continue construction on the current 23 story building by next year. It will probably not be as tall as the AT&T Corporate Center next to the Sears Tower, but will probably compete with Water Tower Place or 900 North Michigan as one of the tallest in that list. That is near the 7th through 10th tallest list of buildings. Related Midwest better do a good job on this building, or a lot of local residents will be upset if it doesn't compliment the river. Like for example Aqua looks great for it's location and proximity to the river.

Brent Kampert - Thursday, July 28th, 2011 @ 11:30am  

  Chicago needs to pass a law about unfinished buildings. This unfinished mess makes the riverfront and neighboring buildings look like a junkyard. Cap it off or tear it down.BTW, the Trump is absolutely gorgeous, and makes a beautiful addition to its neighbors. It's the perfect foil (literally and figuratively) for the black building next to it, and harmonizes well with the older, classical types nearby.

Alyssa - Monday, November 9th, 2009 @ 8:53am  

  I am an architect from finland! My favourite city Chicago has the most impressive skyline in the world. I do really hope that waterview tower will be added to it some day. I am so sad that those magnificient buildings as waterview tower and chicago spire are halted... what a wasted opportunity...

Marko Alanko - Saturday, May 23rd, 2009 @ 12:05pm  

  It will be nice if it is ever completed. But I think it's gonna get topped off at the current height and turned into retail. No one is buying condos.

realist joe - Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 @ 3:29pm  

  water view tower is by far the most beautiful bldg on the chicago river with the elegancy of changrilat hotels ...this is far better than trump ,....i do believe is going to be one of the greatest investment for the future ...for those who did not get the opportunity yet i say u should hurry now

a elborno - Saturday, September 27th, 2008 @ 2:47am  

  I'm from romania and i love this city.Fordham spire,aqa,waterview,trump will modify the city and I hope this will not stop.chicago has the most beautiful skyline in my opinion and I hope that sometime I will visit the most beautiful city in the world

just dan - Saturday, January 5th, 2008 @ 7:16pm  

  I'm anxiously waiting for this building to grow ... It's currently only about 10 stories tall & not visible in the skyline. I can't wait to see both it & the Trump Tower from my office during the day, they will both be a great modern addition to the skyline.

urbaneddie - Sunday, December 9th, 2007 @ 4:11pm  

  That is AMAZING!!! I visit Chicago every summer on vacation. I hope I can tour that place. Chicago is already an amazing,exciting city and they just keep adding to the excitement of visiting.

Tammy Heffernan - Saturday, December 8th, 2007 @ 12:05pm  

  This will be a beautiful addition to the city's skyline. Much prettier than Trump's and I will be able to see this one from my home in the Gold Coast..Chicago is a great city to live in!!!!

Keith C. - Saturday, June 16th, 2007 @ 10:01am  

  Tall, sleek, stately - I hope it turns out in reality as good as it looks simulated.

Jeffrey J - Monday, June 4th, 2007 @ 11:09pm  

  Chicago is leading the world with new and architecturally significant buildings. Trump, Waterview, Aqua, Legacy, 300 N. Lasalle, Central Park, WOW!!!

Michael Campo - Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 @ 1:23pm  

  An interesting looking building. A beautiful addition to the skyline.

Thomas Semesky - Saturday, September 9th, 2006 @ 2:51pm  

  I recently reserved a two bedroom in this building. Both the price per square foot (I paid around $607) and the monthly maintenance (approx $.50 psf)seem very reasonable for a building with very high end finishings and luxury amenities. The floorplan is very well done, I think the building will be a tremendous success.

TK - Friday, August 4th, 2006 @ 10:50am  

  Its a great looking building in the right spot, together with trump tower it will be a great addition to chicagos skyline, i hope investors will continue this trend and keep up building the mega towers in chicago so some desert city doesnt think it has anything to say in skyscraper mytoligie! I LOVE CHICAGO AND THE USA!!!!

Benjamin Z. - Saturday, July 8th, 2006 @ 8:58am  

  Chicago is transforming an already great skyline for the better.

Hose - Monday, July 3rd, 2006 @ 1:04pm  

  Chicago is the best city in the world and with the Fordham spire and the new Trump tower and this new Waterview building its bound to get even greater that its orginal self.Chicago Rocks!

Kryan - Saturday, May 13th, 2006 @ 7:58pm  

  Very nice and being adjacent to the R.R. Donnely and Burnett buildings is a real bonus. Three beautiful buildings along the river will give Chicago an unsurpassed skyline.

Travis Hill - Monday, April 3rd, 2006 @ 4:32pm  

  I've been following this project for the past several years, and I'm so pleased that it's officially under construction. This tower will make a striking yet slender addition to the Chicago skyline and it will certainly fit in wonderfully along the Wacker Drive streetwall. There were many doubters that this project would ever come to fruition and I'm glad that they were proven wrong. At 89 floors and 1,047', Waterview Tower will be the 5th tallest building in Chicago upon completion. Slender yet soaring, Waterview Tower is an A+ building in my book.

BVictor1 - Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 @ 2:58pm  

  Very elegant design if do say so myself. This building will make great strides in making view of the river the most envious landscapes in the world. Even if we no longer can claim to have the worlds tallest building we may as well have the majority of the top 20.

Joel K - Friday, March 10th, 2006 @ 1:35pm  

  beautiful. simply beautiful. i just wished it was higher. chicago needs to regain its former skyscraper glory.

james jacob - Monday, March 6th, 2006 @ 12:01am