Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
CTBUH Summer Tours 2009 - Legacy at Millennium Park

22 May 2009, Chicago


Legacy at Millenium Park © Jan Klerks/CTBUH



Click here to view photos of the Legacy Tower Tour

Friday, May 22nd marked the start of the CTBUH 2009 Chicago Skyscraper Summer Tours with a constructio
n tour of the Legacy at Millennium Park project in Chicago. It is intended that this series of three summer tours (upcoming: Aqua Tower, June 19th and Blue Cross Blue Shield, July 17th) will become a template for future CTBUH tall building tours in other relevant cities across the world, organized by our Country Representatives there.

The tour of the Legacy building began in the sales center for the project, which is being developed by Mesa Development in conjunction with Walsh Construction. CTBUH member Jay Butler of Walsh Construction was our host for the afternoon, aided by Peter Noone of architects for the project Solomon Cordwell Buenz. With a fully booked attendance of 30 CTBUH members and affiliates, knowledgeable tour guides and glorious weather, the tour was a great success.

The tour started with a presentation from Mr. Butler and Mr. Noone on the basics of the Legacy, utilizing the large scale model in the sales center.  Amongst the various facts and figures, the attendees learned about the integration of the 822-foot-tall tower into its surrounding area.

Not only is the main entrance of the 355 condominium units integrated into the adjacent Sharp Building of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on East Monroe Street, the project also preserves the historic frontages of the Chicago Landmark Jewelers Row District on Wabash Avenue. These façades will be incorporated as the front element of the project podium, containing a parking garage with 460 spaces and 41,000 square feet (3,800 m2) of classroom space for the School of the Art Institute. A cantilevering skybridge connects the Legacy project with the neighboring University Club at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street, through which amenities such as  hospitality rooms, catering services, guest rooms and squash court privileges become available. As this building, which is an historical landmark completed in 1909 and designed by the renowned architect Martin Roche, wasn’t designed for the extra load, the full weight of the sky bridge is cantilevered off the Legacy structure.

Jay Butler, Walsh Construction welcoming participants
© Jan Klerks/CTBUH
Introduction around the model
© Jan Klerks/CTBUH

The setback position and the slenderness of the tower helps preserve the existing scale of the surrounding streetscapes and as such gives the impression that the tower is always on the other side of the block. A private alley that runs through the plot inspired Solomon Cordwell Buenz  to create an overhanging expanse on the East side of the tower. Because Mesa Development acquired the air rights to some of the neighboring buildings, the tower could rise up to 72 stories and benefit from unobstructed views beyond the podium. Complying with the city’s ambition, outdoor sky gardens and lounges will be created on the roof of the podium as well as the 42nd and 60th floors.

Construction slide show
© Jan Klerks/CTBUH
Clyde Baker, STS AECOM
© Antony Wood/CTBUH

After the overview of the model, Mr. Butler presented a slide show illustrating all phases of construction. Because of the residential function, the structure of the tower is concrete. The load of the structure is piled onto bedrock at a depth of around 90 to 100 feet. Clyde Baker of the geotechnical firm AECOM / STS was also in attendance, and explained the foundations of the scheme in more detail. The location of the tower, in one of the busiest sections of the Loop, posed some interesting challenges to the construction team. The construction office was housed in a neighboring office building on Michigan Avenue and materials were delivered according to a just-in-time delivery strategy as there is little room for storage on the construction site itself.

Looking up the Legacy Tower © Jan Klerks/CTBUH
   Sky bridge linking Legacy with University Club
© Jan Klerks/CTBUH

After viewing an apartment mock-up in the Sales Center, the group proceeded to the actual building under construction. After first taking in the future entrance area/lobby, Mr. Butler took us up to the 22nd floor where the group was presented with shoe covers to protect the completed 2-bedroom unit for viewing. Immediately upon entrance, attention was gripped by the wide open views offered by the floor-to-ceiling windows. Several of the glass panels are operable, to allow for natural ventilation. The curtain wall was eventually fabricated in China as, at the time of tender, the construction boom resulted in low interest from domestic suppliers. All units contain a balcony and some have the luxury of a bath tub next to the window!

2-bedroom unit, 22nd floor © Bob Johnson
    Grant Park © Jan Klerks/CTBUH

Mr. Butler saved the best of the construction tour for last: with the magnificent views out from the roof top. The tower has been designed in such as way that almost all condos have views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan, and magnificent those views are. The views also of the Loop, Gold Coast, Magnificent Mile, Near North Side and River North were similarly stunning. A group picture against the background of the AON Center, Two Prudential Plaza, the John Hancock Tower and Trump Tower wrapped up the tour.

Greg Lakota, Halvorson & Partners with Sears Tower © Jan Klerks/CTBUH
Paul James, Bovis Lend Lease with Trump Tower © Antony Wood/CTBUH

Next to the practical information and insights, the tour also taught us that the Chicago Loop has great potential for skyscraper living. The proximity of the park, the shops and facilities of the Loop and the nearby transport nodes are key ingredients in creating a suitable urban milieu for skyscraper living. The Legacy and its sister project, the nearby Heritage Tower, show that it is possible to densify an existing inner city area with quality residential space. It is just a matter of time before even more Chicagoans will begin calling the Loop their home.

Our thanks go to Mesa Development, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, and especially Walsh Construction, for their time and enthusiasm in facilitating this tour.

Group picture taken on top of Legacy at Millennium Park. Participants included: Clyde Baker (AECOM), Joseph Burnell (Built Form), Joseph Burns (Thornton Tomasetti), Jay Butler (Walsh Construction), Kim R. Clawson (Goettsch Partners), Thomas Fridstein (Perkins Eastman), David Genc (DeStefano + Partners), James Harding (Bovis Lend Lease), Kim Hyeong-Ill (IIT), Paul James (Bovis Lend Lease), Bob Johnson (Bowman, Barrett & Associates), Jan Klerks (CTBUH), Greg Lakota (Halvorson and Partners), Ali Moshiri (IIT), Peter Noone (Solomon Cordwell Buenz), Leah Ray (Gensler), Boris Sverdlov (Building Design International), Antony Wood (CTBUH) © Jan Klerks/CTBUH


Picture Gallery
Click an image below to enlarge. Photos courtesy of Jan Klerks, Antony Wood, and Bob Johnson.

Legacy seen from Millennium Park   Jay Butler of Walsh Construction welcoming participants   Introduction around the model   Construction sequence presentation   Clyde Baker, STS Aecom, explaining foundation design

Legacy seen from Millennium Park

Jay Butler of Walsh Construction welcoming participants

Introduction around model

Construction Sequence presentation
Clyde Baker, STS AECOM, explaining foundation design
Historic city + modern tower = Legacy Skybridge Linking Legacy with University Club Look up! 2-bedroom unit, 22nd floor On the balcony
Historic city + modern tower = Legacy
Skybridge linking Legacy with University Club Look up!

2-Bedroom unit, 22nd floor
On the balcony

View from the top, Grant Park One Museum Park Tower South Loop West Loop Magnificent Mile
View from the top, Grant Park One Museum Park Towers South Loop
West Loop
Magnificant Mile
Peter Noone & Jay Butler CTBUH's Antony Wood shoots away Greg Lakota, Halvorson & Partners with Sears Tower Paul James, Bovis Lend Lease with 'his' Trump Tower Group picture
Peter Noone, Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Jay Butler, Walsh Construction.
CTBUH's Antony Wood shoots away


Greg Lakota, Halvorson & Parterns, with Sears Tower.
Paul James, Bovis Lend Lease with 'his' Trump Tower
Group picture


Please click here to learn more about the CTBUH Summer Tours 2009.