Places To Stay Near Union Station Chicago

Places To Stay Near Union Station Chicago

Places To Stay Near Union Station Chicago

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Landmark Union Station is poised to receive a seven-story glass vertical addition as part of an ambitious multiphase redevelopment of an Amtrak property adjacent to the historic train station.

Places To Stay Near Union Station Chicago

Places To Stay Near Union Station Chicago

The latest version of the plan was unveiled Monday night at a public meeting in the station’s restored Burlington Room. It will add 330 hotel rooms to the structure’s existing top floor and about 400 rental apartments in a donut-shaped extension designed by architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB).

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An earlier 2017 drawing by Goettsch Partners showed a pair of free-standing towers adorning the station’s main building, or “main house.” The first conceptual renderings were released after a joint venture between Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties selected Amtrak to master the development of the site.

‘s Union Station was originally designed by architect Daniel Burnham and was designed to accommodate vertical expansion. Part of its design, which resembles a massive limestone pedestal, was completed in 1925 by the architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. Further sketches of Burnham’s building were never realized, as the architect died before the building was completed.

Drawing of the original Union Station office tower extension. A demolished concourse building is visible in the foreground. J. D’Esposito, Union Station Co. and Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, Courtesy of the Architect/Official Reference, Press Club

When the building was selected as a landmark in 2002, the designation called for future expansions “designed to be compatible with but differentiated” from the station’s Beaux Arts exterior.

Denver Union Station

Although shorter than Burnham’s plans for a 315-foot tower, SCB’s design follows a similar ring-shaped layout around a central shaft above the station’s expansive Great Hall skylight.

Taking the ‘compatible but different’ approach to heart, the new sections will be clad in glass and shiny bronze metal, inspired by the building’s original window colors and the muscular steel beams of the demolished station concourse building.

This design marks the border between old and new with concave spaces. In addition to this, cantilevers are added to the outside to make the narrow base slightly wider, making it more suitable for apartments.

Places To Stay Near Union Station Chicago

The project will create new entrances at Adams Street, Jackson Boulevard and Clinton Street and restore the windows that were destroyed and blocked after the fire of 1980. The windows of the existing house are updated with new glass to match the new structure above and accentuate with external lighting.

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Architecture critic Blair Carmin described the design as “cliche” and “top-heavy”, as if “one era of architecture has been haphazardly piled on top of another”.

At Monday’s meeting, Ward Miller of Preservation, the nonprofit that included Union Station on its 2018 list of the city’s most at-risk buildings, raised concerns about the project’s “incompatible” design.

“Ceilings, elevations and interior volumes are protected by the Landmarks Ordinance and we think you’re going to cross those lines,” Miller said. “We wanted to see no building over this amazing station.” Instead, Miller suggested moving the additional floors to a new proposed high-rise next door.

Fred Ash, author of Union Station, offers a different view of the plan. “This building has been a white elephant since the day it was built. It was over budget and it was built at the height of rail travel. It has been a financial disaster from day one and a counterproductive asset for Amtrak, which loses $1 billion a year. I think moving forward without redevelopment is unrealistic.”

Chicago Union Station, Chicago

Amtrak later disputed Ash’s claim that it was losing $1 billion a year. Company officials said Amtrak covered about 95% of its operating expenses in 2017 from ticket sales and other revenue, but did not provide specific figures for its annual losses.

Councilman Brendan Reilly stressed that Monday’s meeting marks the beginning of the approval process and reaffirmed his commitment to use the development to address transportation issues. Solutions being considered include realigning lanes, improving crosswalks, abandoning areas dedicated to transit services, restricting westbound turns on Quincy Street, and implementing permanent traffic control assistants.

During the meeting, the development team provided several details for the second phase of the project, a high-rise office that will replace a 1,700-stall parking lot south of the station.

Places To Stay Near Union Station Chicago

The yet-to-be-unveiled design will provide about 1.5 million square feet of office space and 800 parking spaces. But before construction can begin, the team must reconnect the city and restart the zoning process.

Chicago Union Station Photos

If approvals go as planned, developers hope to break ground on the headquarters expansion in the second quarter of 2019, ahead of an 18-month construction period. Riverside’s John O’Donnell said a two-phase office tower could follow in late 2019 “at the earliest.”

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