by: chicago designslinger
[EnV Chicago (2010) Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
While a giant drill began to burrow holes deep into the ground of the former parking lot at the corner of Kinzie and Wells Street in late August 2008, prepping the site for the solid concrete caissons that would support the luxury apartment high-rise, the country's economy was on far shakier ground. Just 3 weeks later, it looked like the U.S. was on its way to another Great Depression, but construction continued on EnV Chicago.
[EnV Chicago, 161 W. Kinzie Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Lynd, a large developer and property management company based in San Antonio, Texas, had decided to break into the Chicago market with a cutting-edge apartment tower. The 24-story building, designed by the architects at Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, included a floor plate comprised primarily of studio and one-bedroom apartments, with a two-bedroom unit on one end. Sitting just 8 feet from the steel super structure supporting a branch of the city's famous El, the designers installed 1 1/4" thick glass to help and cut down on the noise. Floor to ceiling glass was also used to enclose small, balcony-like sky-boxes that projected out from the corners, which would provide a non-acrophobic tenant with great views, while being suspended in air.
[EnV Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
For the next 2 years while other projects around town never got off the ground at all, or were destined to end up as just a hole in the ground, or to have several floors of their concrete framework rise into the sky only to be stopped as the economy tanked and end up sitting it there forlorn, unfinished and wrapped in plastic, the glass sheeting on the EnV tower continued its march upward. When the building was completed in the summer of 2010, the developers optimistic promise that its 200+ apartments would be fully leased on opening day fell a bit short. With some of the highest rentals rates in the area, the project only had about 40% of its apartments leased. But insurance giant MetLife must have seen potential in the building, because in January 2012 they plunked down a reported $120 million for the shiny blue, El-adjacent tower, in a hot rental market that has loosened the purse strings.