Not Wasted A Single Penny was uploaded to Flickr

Construction, West Loop

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I took Not Wasted A Single Penny on March 21, 2016 at 04:16AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 16, 2019 at 10:32AM

Chicago’s Equinox hotel tower proposed

Slated for Destruction
Slated for Destruction

Curbed Chicago reports:

As presented, the 680-foot skyscraper would deliver 370 rental apartments, a 165-room hotel, and an Equinox fitness club. Related Midwest’s owner Related Cos. acquired the Equinox brand in 2006 and plans to build as many as 75 fitness-oriented hotel projects.

Concealed on-site parking for 150 vehicles comes via an interior motorcourt accessible from the Randolph frontage road and the existing Court Place curb cut on Halsted. The development can provide additional vehicular capacity with a valet service. All commercial loading will take place off the street and within the envelope of the new building.

The project is seeking a zoning change in the form of amending an existing Residential-Business Planned Development at the site. It takes over an older, unbuilt plan from a different developer that had called for a 370-foot tower with 220 residential units atop a prominent 260-space parking garage.

Related acquired the stalled development site in 2016 and demolished the existing dilapidated buildings that fall. The current proposal grew its L-shaped footprint through the addition of an adjacent parcel and achieved greater density with a 2017 transfer of air rights from the neighboring Haymarket Brewery.

(click here to continue reading Chicago’s Equinox hotel tower proposed as West Loop ‘gateway’ – Curbed Chicago.)

Oh boy, more traffic in an area that can’t handle the traffic it has already, and that’s before all these new constructions finish…

58 story hotel and residential
58 story hotel and residential

Bricklayers And Robots

Laying Bricks
Laying Bricks…

Bricklayers will most likely be replaced by robots, eventually. Not for a while though, the robots are still too expensive, and slow. But I foresee it happening.

Here at this race, humans are holding off the future with trowel and muscle. But that may not last. Bricklayers are becoming increasingly hard to find nationwide. Despite rising wages, there’s a shortage of workers.

Nearly two-thirds of bricklaying contractors say they are struggling to find workers, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders . And it can take three to four years before a person with no experience can become a journeyman bricklayer.

In addition, productivity — how much brick wall a laborer can complete in an hour of work — isn’t much better than it was two decades ago. Bricklaying’s most important tools — a trowel, a bucket, string and a wheelbarrow —  haven’t changed much over centuries.

These factors would seem to put the trade at risk of a robot takeover.

But the human competitors here weren’t worried. SAM is far from being widely adopted. There are only 11 of them, costing roughly $400,000 each, a prohibitive amount for many small contractors. The machines can’t do corners or curves or read blueprints. SAM also requires workers to load its brick, refill its mortar and clean up the joints of the brick it lays.

What SAM does do is work without getting thirsty, sick or tired. In some ways, it is running a different kind of race.

“It’s not whether or not we win in the first hour,” said Scott Peters, president of Construction Robotics, the maker of the machine. “We’d just like to see them in the fourth hour.”

Innovations like these could ease the pressures of construction costs that are worsening the housing shortages in some parts of the country. Even Jeff Buczkiewicz, president of the Mason Contractors Association of America, acknowledged a role for robots.

“The machines will never replace the human,” Mr. Buczkiewicz said. “They will help down the road and they will make it that we won’t need as many workers, but given the shortages we’re seeing now, that’s probably a good thing.”

But he added, “There’s a human element to a craft that you don’t get from a robot.”

(click here to continue reading Bricklayers Think They’re Safe From Robots. Decide for Yourself. – The New York Times.)

You should click through read the story if you can, there are some fun images and gifs of robots and bricklayers at the NYT website.

The Real Is What Works
The Real Is What Works

Plan for 51-story at 110 N Wacker Drive tower hits obstacle

General Growth - Chicago River
General Growth – Chicago River

I’ve walked past 110 N Wacker Drive, aka the General Growth Properties building, f/k/a the Morton Salt Building hundreds or even thousands of times, and I can’t say I was ever flabbergasted by its beauty.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

A planned 51-story tower on Wacker Drive has run into an unexpected obstacle that could halt the high-profile office development: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The federal agency has informed the developers, Chicago’s Riverside Investment & Development and Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corp., that the project will have an “adverse effect,” since the plan requires demolishing an architecturally significant building along the Chicago River.

The five-story building on the site at 110 N. Wacker Drive, currently the headquarters of mall landlord GGP, is not landmarked but is eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, according to a public notice by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Because of that, the agency’s Chicago District will solicit public input through Dec. 14 about the planned demolition before determining the development’s fate.

The highly unusual snag comes just before the developers were expected to raze the building and begin replacing it with the 800-foot-tall skyscraper. The developers want to begin construction as soon as January, the public notice said. Plans call for more than 1.3 million square feet of office space, which is expected to command some of the highest office rents in Chicago.

The developers already received city approval for the project designed by Goettsch Partners. But they still need approval from the Army Corps because the project would include building a stormwater outfall structure, which is essentially a hole cut in the seawall to allow rainwater to flow from the tower’s roof into the river.

“The 110 North Wacker building project was the subject of an eight month public process leading to the granting of full zoning approval from the city of Chicago,” the developers said in an emailed statement. “To date, we have worked with the City Planning Department, Alderman (Brendan) Reilly and others to maximize the open public space, and architectural benefits for the city. We have been working through the permitting process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other statutory authorities and look forward to working collaboratively to deliver this exciting new building in the heart of Chicago.”

(click here to continue reading Plan for 51-story Wacker Drive tower hits obstacle – Chicago Tribune.)

General Growth - Blues
General Growth – Blues

I’d hazard a guess that demolition will occur early next year…

During a review of the project, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in August determined the building’s architecture makes it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, creating an “adverse effect” if it were to be demolished, according to the public notice.

The building, designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, is an example of Mid-Century Modern architecture, according to the documents. The $4 million building opened in 1958 as the headquarters of Morton Salt Co. The building has long turned heads because of its low-slung size, dwarfed by a row of modern Wacker Drive towers.

I was also amused by this:

Curbed Chicago first reported the “adverse effect” federal review.

Would it be so difficult to provide a link? Like, for instance,

Apartment Complexes Named After Smiths Songs

Other people’s dreams are notoriously difficult to parse, but I’m noting a dream I had a couple nights ago because I remembered it a moment ago, and it made me giggle. 


In my dream, I was writing a long blog post about the new trend of naming apartment complexes and high-rise condominiums after the titles of Smiths songs. In my dream, I had a print out of two sheets of paper worth of new dwellings named this way.

If you are at all familiar with The Smiths oeuvre, you’ll know that is utterly ridiculous.

For instance, can you imagine living in a place called:

The Headmaster Ritual

or in a condo called

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore


Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours


Your guess is as good as mine as to what my subconscious was attempting to convey to my conscious brain. I haven’t even been listening to The Smiths recently (though I periodically do queue up Smiths LPs; if I made a list of my top 100 bands, they would probably make the cut, or just miss it.)

Drink Your Sidewalks Like Wine was uploaded to Flickr

Construction, West Loop somewhere, Chicago

embiggen by clicking

I took Drink Your Sidewalks Like Wine on June 07, 2012 at 04:59PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 19, 2016 at 10:03AM

The World Is Full of Troubles was uploaded to Flickr

Grand/Milwaukee/Halsted construction

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I took The World Is Full of Troubles on March 16, 2015 at 11:50AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 18, 2015 at 02:35PM

Diver – Chicago River was uploaded to Flickr

Working on the Riverwalk I believe.…

or, for instance:…

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I took Diver – Chicago River on June 20, 2014 at 01:30PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 27, 2014 at 05:22PM

And Have You Traveled Very Far Today? was uploaded to Flickr

crossing I-90/94, West Loop

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I took And Have You Traveled Very Far Today? on September 10, 2012 at 07:53PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 09, 2014 at 05:23PM

Replacement Of Division Street Bridge Begins Monday

Division Street Bridge in need of repair
Division Street Bridge in need of repair

Per Chuck Sudo of the Chicagoist, the Division Street Bridge lost its race to collapse before being repaired…

Starting Monday crews will begin demolishing Division Street Bridge near Goose Island. The city will be replacing the 111-year-old Bascule Bridge with an interim span while building a permanent Bascule replacement. The bridge was originally built in 1903 and has served as an integral link across Goose Island for cars, bikes, pedestrians and trains over the years, but currently isn’t wide enough to accommodate the size and flow of modern traffic. The Division Street Bridge is one of several Bascule bridges that made the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois’ 2013 list of the 10 most endangered historic places in the state.

(click here to continue reading Replacement Of Division Street Bridge Begins Monday: Chicagoist.)

Per Historic Bridges, this bridge was last rehabbed in 1992, but as these photos demonstrate, the bridge is a little rickety.

Somebody's Lunch
Somebody’s Lunch

Division Street Bridge
Division Street Bridge

Division Street Bridge
Division Street Bridge

Circumstantial Evidence - Panatomic X

Circumstantial Evidence – Panatomic X

Division Street Bridge is still Standing
Division Street Bridge is still Standing

String and Steel Melodies
String and Steel Melodies

More history:

Crossing the North Branch Chicago River Canal onto or off of Goose Island, this is one of the very first highway bascule bridges built in Chicago, constructed just a couple years after Cortland Street. Given the influence that Chicago’s development of the bascule bridge had on bridge construction nationwide, this prototypical example of a Chicago type trunnion bascule bridge is nationally significant and its preservation should be given a paramount level of priority.

 Roemheld & Gallery of Chicago were both the designers and builders of the bridge. This bridge is similar to bridges like Cortland Street, but it has one very unusual and distinctive characteristic which sets it aside from these other bridges. The overhead sway/portal bracing for this bridge is composed of simple plate steel with decorative designs on them that includes an upside-down “Y” design with a circle around it that is used in Chicago to refer to the three branches of the Chicago River. The symbol became an officially designated symbol appearing in Chicago’s municipal code as the “Municipal Device.” Easy to miss unless you are looking for it, the symbol can be found on buildings and structures throughout the city including on a few other bridges. This Division Street Bridge however is the only bridge in the entire city that includes this design in its overhead bracing. The bridge is different from the other early bascule bridges including the bascule bridge in sight of this one also on Division Street, which have a more intricate network of built-up sections of v-laced and latticed steel for bracing. The plates with the Municipal Device symbol on this bridge are an interesting and decorative element that adds a lot to the bridge.

(click here to continue reading Division Street North Branch Canal Bridge (Division Street Eastern Bridge) –

Walked On By was uploaded to Flickr

never ending construction

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I took Walked On By on May 20, 2014 at 11:46AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 22, 2014 at 07:30PM

Chicago River Walk Construction was uploaded to Flickr

Dearborn, I believe

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I took Chicago River Walk Construction on May 20, 2014 at 11:44AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 22, 2014 at 07:29PM

Billy Goat proprietor wants to stay put amid planned development

Billy Goat
Billy Goat

Everything changes eventually, but is there a good reason to kick out Sam Sianis from this location of the Billy Goat? Doubtful, just greedy real estate corporations…

No Pepsi. No fries. No desire to change things.

The Billy Goat Tavern has been a Chicago landmark for generations and a fixture underneath North Michigan Avenue for almost 50 years. And its owner wants to remain there, regardless of whatever redevelopment goes on above it.

Sam Sianis, who runs the tavern and is the nephew of the Billy Goat’s original owner, William Sianis, said Tuesday that he knew nothing of potential plans for a massive redevelopment disclosed Monday that would involve replacing the Realtor Building at 430 N. Michigan Ave. That project, on property located above the Goat, would at least temporarily displace the tavern from the subterranean location it has called home since 1964.

“I want to stay here,” Sianis said. “I’ve been here for almost 50 years. Like the Realtors, I’m part of Michigan Avenue.”

…”Nothing has changed since 1964,” Sianis said. “Nothing has changed from the time we opened up to now.”

Asked if he’d like a more modern, fancier new home as part of a new development, Sianis fell back on the cadence — No fries! Chips! No Pepsi! Coke! — immortalized by John Belushi in the “Saturday Night Live” skit that made the place famous.

“No fancy,” Sianis said. “I want it to be the same.”

Staying put wouldn’t be an option if the building above it is razed and redeveloped, but the National Association of Realtors thinks it has come up with the next best thing: Pick up the various pieces of the tavern, picture frame by picture frame and chair by chair, and move the Goat across the street.


(click here to continue reading Billy Goat proprietor wants to stay put amid planned development –

Moving to a location in the basement under the Wrigley Building would be ok, though I wonder how much the odor of the hamburgers, chips, Pepsi waft up to the floors above?

Billy Goat's Tavern & Grill
Billy Goat’s Tavern & Grill

Chuck Sudo of the Chicagoist describes the planned development thus:

An ambitious project to turn one of Michigan Avenue’s iconic buildings into a mixed-use “destination building” could have some short-term consequences for tourists and local media folk. The National Association of Realtors board unanimously approved a plan to raze its 13-story building at 430 N. Michigan Ave. and replace it with a new building including a high-end hotel, condominiums, office and retail space and an open plaza. The proposed new building would be mirrored after the NAR’s New York City-based project and could be as much as 93 stories high.

The NAR would also relocate its headquarters to Chicago which the Emanuel administration would surely tout in a press release as another sign the mayor is bringing jobs to Chicago if this project gets the green light. The NAR has an unnamed partner in the project. Pamela Monroe, chair of NAR’s Real Property Operations Committee, would only say the group is “a world-class partner with premium credentials” that is “very private” and “extremely well-capitalized.” The Realtor building is one of the few properties remaining on North Michigan Avenue that hasn’t been developed in recent years and the NAR bought the building behind it that houses 437 Rush restaurant.

(click here to continue reading Michigan Avenue Development Project Could Displace Billy Goat Tavern For A Spell: Chicagoist.)

Billy Goat Tavern Est 1934
Billy Goat Tavern Est 1934

I wonder if the “hex” on the Chicago Cubs would be broken if the Billy Goat was forced to move?

The Goat’s role in Chicago as a well-known bar goes back generations. It has been a hangout for journalists for decades and earned headlines regularly through owner William Sianis, an impresario as well as barkeeper. He’s the one who placed a hex on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 after his pet goat was kicked out of Wrigley Field during the World Series.

Public Park as Part of 150 N Riverside

Streaking Home Streaking Home

As part of an interesting discussion of the planned development on Randolph and the Chicago River, 150 N. Riverside, we read this aside about Boeing’s infamous unfriendliness to civilians and tourists…

[Alderman Brendan] Reilly has been emphatic in noting that this will be a public park, not a publicly accessible private park. When Hines finally agreed to build its park at River Point, the Texas developer tried to start negotiations over how many days a year it would be available to the public. Reilly said words to the effect of “Homey don’t play that” and sent Hines packing until it realized that Chicago isn’t Houston and you can’t just build whatever you want without regard to the neighbors.

The Hines park will now be open all year round.

Neighbors, however, are worried that the the 150 North Riverside park will be significantly less than promised. They don’t want a repeat of what’s going on one block to the south at the Boeing building. When the Seattle aircraft maker moved here, what used to be a nice, welcoming public plaza became a fortress with security guards harassing the locals for walking through what’s supposed to be a public riverwalk, threatening tourists for the imaginary crime of camera possession, and keeping the place behind locked gates more often than it is open. That is also the case up the street, where the residential development north of Kinzie Street keeps the public riverwalk locked up. If you want to legally access it, you must go to a security office and ask a guard to unlock it for you.

The developer is trying to assuage the locals fears by promising to deed the 150 park to the city. But then he repeatedly states the park will be open “dawn to dusk.” City parks are open until 11pm. And it’s not like city parks have a stellar track record of openness, access, and not trying chasing tourists away because they’re holding cameras. When it’s not snowing, there are parts of Millennium Park repeatedly locked off for private events, and some parts that are closed to the public for big corporations for months at a time.

(click here to continue reading Grand Plans for “Millennium Park Lite” Come With West Loop Office Tower | The Chicago Architecture Blog.)

Photography is not legal at Boeing either Photography is not legal at Boeing either

Really, if you are walking through this area with a camera, Boeing’s guards (some of whom have weapons on display) will come to full attention, and gods forbid if you step towards their building with your camera at the ready. A very, very unfriendly neighbor, to say the least. Many, many years ago when I was a dew-faced young lad, I worked a temporary job here, when Morton Salt’s HQ was here (or nearby, memory is a funny thing) – I remember sitting by the Chicago River eating my lunch in a pleasant, public plaza. You would probably have to duck bullets if you tried this today, or at any time since Boeing moved in circa 2001.

Golden Plowshares Golden Plowshares

Back to 150 N Riverside: we are personally not opposed to a new development here, especially if Alderman Reilly can enforce the public park aspect of the plan. The Loop, west, and the West Loop areas are drastically underserved by greenspace. In an ideal world, 150 N Riverside aka 400 W Randolph wouldn’t be a building at all, instead, the City of Chicago could construct an elevated public park above the tracks, just like Millennium Park itself! But we are realists, so that’s simply a fantasy.

For your amusement, a few other photos of the general area in question, as it looks today. Double click to embiggen…

Waiting for the 216

Waiting for the 216

Transport is Arranged Transport is Arranged

train yard train yard

Merchandise Mart Negative Scan 9-10-12 Merchandise Mart Negative Scan 9-10-12

Misdirected Remarks - Agfa Scala Misdirected Remarks – Agfa Scala

Dusk in River North Dusk in River North

Map of the block



Continue reading “Public Park as Part of 150 N Riverside”