LIKELY WIN: Chicago Tribune Tower Redevelopment and New Super Tall Tower Plan Unveiled

Chicago Tribune Tower Redevelopment, Rendering Credit: Golub & Company and CIM Group
Chicago Tribune Tower Redevelopment, Rendering Credit: Golub & Company and CIM Group

On April 16, the Tribune Tower development team unveiled their development proposal for the historic Chicago Tribune Tower and a new super tall adjacent building that would be the second tallest in Chicago. The proposed 96-story skyscraper would be just 29 feet shorter than the Sears/Willis Tower. 

The development team is a joint venture between Chicago’s Golub & Company and the Los Angeles-based CIM Group. The architect for the new construction tower is Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, while the historic redevelopment of Tribune Tower will be led by Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz in collaboration with preservation consultant Vinci-Hamp Architects. The developers are currently seeking a zoning change to allow the transformation of the former office complex into new residences, retail space, and hotel rooms. Total cost of the project is estimated to top $1 billion.

The Chicago Tribune Tower primary elevations are partially protected by its Designated Chicago Landmark status. However, interior demolition of the 1925 neo-Gothic Tribune Tower for its adaptive reuse to residential began in late 2017. 163 new luxury condominiums are planned for the historic tower.  

Conversations are underway to ensure that the Tribune Tower’s landmarked lobby space will remain open to the public at certain times. There are also ongoing discussions regarding dismantling and donating Col. Robert McCormick historic 24th floor office to an off-site museum as this interior space was excluded from the Landmark Designation.

In addition to the Tribune Tower, the site includes three low-rise structures that have no landmark protection. They include the four-story WGN Radio Building, the 11-story WGN TV Building, and the Printing Plant. However, they appear likely to be preserved under the redevelopment plan.  

The developers would like to retain the historic Chicago Tribune sign overlooking Pioneer Court. There is reported to be a legal dispute between the developers and Tronc, the new parent company of the Chicago Tribune. Preservation Chicago strongly supports the preservation of the iconic historic sign.

“We are doing everything we can to keep the sign. Like the Stones of the World, we feel its part of the fabric of the building,” explained Developer Lee Golub. “The tenant claims its intellectual property. We believe its real estate that we lawfully acquired.” (Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, April 17, 2018)

Preservation Chicago applauds the development team, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly for helping to protect one of Chicago’s most important and visible buildings and a gateway to North Michigan Avenue. The international design competition captured the world’s attention in 1922 “to design the world’s most beautiful building,” and it was home to one of the nation’s premier newspapers and broadcasting companies for nearly a century.

Preservation Chicago would like to see all facades of the Tribune Tower protected by Chicago Landmark Designation. Additionally, we support the Chicago Landmark Designation of Nathan Hale Court and Building including the statue of Nathan Hale, the WGN Radio Building, the Chicago Tribune Printing Building fronting Pioneer Court along with its iconic sign, and the 11-story WGN TV Building/former Chicago American Newspaper Headquarters.

“The requests for a more preservation-minded approach to the site’s redevelopment were echoed by several others. One such call came from Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, who asked the team to seek landmarking for the entire complex, including Nathan Hale Court. Butler Adams, an architectural tour guide, commended the ambitious scope of the proposal, but also suggested the plan highlight the history of Pioneer Court—the original site of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable’s settlement in Chicago.” (LaTrace, Chicago Magazine, 4/27/18) 

Additional Reading

Column: Tribune Tower plans would energize an old landmark, but don’t yet create a new one, Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, April 19, 2018

1,422-foot Tribune Tower addition would be Chicago’s second tallest building, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, April 17, 2018

Developers Plan Chicago’s Second-Tallest Tower at Tribune Site, AJ LaTrace, Chicago Magazine, April 27, 2018

Tribune Tower redeveloper sues departing newspaper to keep its sign, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, April 6, 2018


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