Friday, March 22, 2019

Blair Kamin Gives New Essex on the Park a Solid "Meh" and Shrug of the Shoulders

Per usual, Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune Architect Columnist, hits it on the head:
The spectacular, cliff-like wall of skyscrapers across Michigan Avenue from Grant Park conjures many metaphors: It’s the face Chicago presents to the world, the front porch that overlooks the city’s front yard, a group portrait that achieves extraordinary coherence despite an aesthetic array that ranges from Romanesque Revival to Second Empire to Art Deco.
In a preemptive strike that anticipated how Millennium Park would supercharge growth, possibly leading developers to tear down buildings in the wall, Chicago in 2002 granted landmark status to a mile-long stretch of the cliff between Randolph Street on the north and 11th Street on the south. But as new towers muscle into Grant Park’s southern edge, development pressure continues to weigh on the historic district.

Is this evolution for the better? I’d say no based on the new Essex on the Park, a solid but unremarkable 56-story apartment tower at 812 S. Michigan. Though it’s sensitively designed at street level, the tower’s skyline presence is a tall order of metal-and-glass “meh.” That’s not good enough, given its prominent site and the fact that, at a height of 620 feet, it is for the moment the district’s tallest building.
Yes we're excited about an upscale building and amenities coming to the Sloop, we agree the architecture leaves something to be desired.

The column goes on to say that the building could serve as a stepping stone to better high-rises to its south like 1000M (if it gets built) and NEMA, but that shouldn't be how we view the architectural creds for this building.

Is it better than the parking lot that it replaces - obviously!  Is it worthy of it's high-profile location in Chicago's grand skyline - doubtful.

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