Building on Faith
River Point is officially open for business! Chicago‘s “grand statement of optimism, strength and power,” as Mayor Emanuel called it at the ceremony on Tuesday, has been a long time in the making. The sculptural new office tower designed by architectural firm Pickard Chilton was first proposed in 2007 by Ivanhoé Cambridge and co-investor and developer Hines.
The ambitious design set out to fit a 45-story, 900,000-square-foot office tower on a long vacant lot that stretched along the L tracks at Canal and Lake streets. Construction was stalled by the ensuing recession and the building only broke ground in January 2013.
According to Mayor Emanuel’s 2012 statements, this development was to be the largest real estate project in five years to be launched on the Chicago office market, at a time when no other office tower projects were in the works. Reportedly constructed without any leasing commitments, the property at 444 West Lake Street was built “as a vote of confidence in the city.”
When announcing the development, Hines expressed great confidence in both the Ivanhoé Cambridge partnership and Chicago’s potential for recovery and growth:
“River Point will drive strong enthusiasm in the next-generation real estate product market and will be a striking addition to Chicago’s much-loved and world-renowned architectural character. Ivanhoé Cambridge’s formidable commitment to this development and the city of Chicago today is a beacon for economic recovery.”
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
In December 2015, the tower finally topped out at 52 stories and 1.1 million square feet. The building was pre-certified LEED Gold and bringing it to life did not sacrifice function for form, nor the other way around. The inviting 1.5-acre waterfront plaza is a land bridge built on top of the Amtrak and Metra tracks, on which passenger trains still run. According to the Chicago Tribune, some of the building’s steel columns had to lean inward to avoid hitting the tracks. Dramatizing the angled wall that follows the tilt of these columns resulted in the tower’s distinctive tall parabolic arch at the base.
According to DNA Info Chicago, River Point is now 85% occupied. It offers generous column-free spaces, a conference center, a fitness center and 150 parking spaces. Not least, the state-of-the-art, sound-attenuating, floor-to-ceiling glass makes for well-lit spaces and outstanding 360° views.
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