Saturday, February 21, 2015

155 North Wacker Drive Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [155 North Wacker Drive Building (2009) Goettsch Partners, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Once upon a time, the leg of Wacker Drive running alongside the south branch of the Chicago River was called Market Street. An appropriate name since the thoroughfare was lined with brick warehouses and heavily trafficked with wagons moving goods to and from markets near and far. Unfortunately by the 1950s many of the old warehouses were underutilized, and large trucks were much harder to maneuver on the street than horses and wagons. In the early 50s the city began extending the 1920s-era, double-decked portion of  Wacker Drive, which already ran along the river's main branch, and took it around the corner, ran the stacked roadway south, and Market became Wacker. In 1974 Sears Tower opened at 233 S. Wacker, and the former warehouse district began a towering transformation. Today the Drive is lined with high-rise office buildings, and 155 North is one of its latest additions.

  [155 North Wacker Drive Building, 155 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Designed by Goettsch Partners, the project embraces cutting-edge technology and was awarded a Gold LEED certificate. In 2009, when the building was completed, Chicago had the largest number of LEED certified buildings in the country, 86, followed by Portland, OR. with 73. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and a LEED certificate is something that responsible architects, builders, and developers aspire to when designing and constructing a project these days.

[155 North Wacker Drive Building, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The ground floor arcade and glass-walled lobby, help open-up a packed urban corner. It also allows for a great view from, and into, a pocket park created by the developer and the city, providing a bit of green space in the dense office tower district. The pocket concept isn't something new, but it was an attempt to introduce a little bit of breathing room into a growing skyscraper-filled landscape. There were those who thought that the demolition of the surrounding old, loft-style, warehouse buildings had more to do with the developer's desire to wipe the slate clean at the building's eastern end and provide better views of the multi-million dollar investment. But people seem to enjoy having the opportunity to take a break in the park, even if it means sitting on a hard, not-so-comfortable, slab bench.  

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