Tribune Tower East: Super-tall building to be just 30 feet lower than the Willis Tower

tribune tower east
Tribune Tower East will be the city's second tallest building, just 30 feet shorter than the Willis (Sears) Tower

Developers CIM and Golub and Company have unveiled updated plans for a mixed use tower that, when completed, will be the city’s second tallest building.

The developers purchased the original Tribune Tower and parking lot from Tribune Media in 2016 for $240 million, and have started work on converting the neo-gothic structure into 162 condominiums, which should be ready for occupancy beginning in 2021. The new super-tall building to occupy the parking lot will have the name Tribune Tower East.

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture have designed the structure, which will be 1,422 ft. tall, just 30 ft. shorter than the city’s highest building, the Willis (Sears) Tower.

The architects outlined an earlier version of the structure about 18 months ago, and the new renderings don’t show much change — at least in terms of height.

However, Curbed Chicago reports there are practical revisions, “focusing on the building’s lowest levels and how the development will handle vehicle loading, traffic circulation, and pedestrian access.”

Cars and pedestrians load and unload along a curving, tunnel-like drive next to a glass-walled hotel lobby.
Hotel loading and lobby access moves off of Upper Illinois to a new circulation drive beneath the tower (Caption fromCurbed Chicago)

“Under the latest plan, pick-up and drop-off for the tower’s residential units remains along N. Cityfront Plaza Drive, while hotel drop-off moves to an internal drive cutting beneath the building between Cityfront Plaza and Upper Illinois Street,” the website reports.

The developers provided additional details in a slideshow.

There are also proposed improvements to the nearby riverfront plaza, Pioneer Court. “This space currently serves as a base for various architecture river cruises and is home to an outdoor cafe and Chicago’s glassy Foster-designed Apple Store,” Curbed Chicago reports.

“Here, the developers propose new pavers and landscaping including trees, planters, and publicly accessible lawn areas. A realigned pedestrian promenade dubbed the “Pioneer Path” aims to better bridge Michigan Avenue and Cityfront Plaza.”

An overhead view of a landscaped pedestrian plaza surrounded by taller buildings. There is a gently curving pathway lined with trees and planters.
Pioneer Court with new landscape improvements.

As currently planned, the Tribune Tower East skyscraper would have 125 condos, 200 hotel rooms, 439 rental apartments, 10,700 sq. ft. of retail space, and a 430-car parking garage.


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