Renewing Chicago’s Block 37
Block 37 is one of the original 58 blocks mapped out at the founding of Chicago, and was a long-standing undeveloped site inside the Loop. Its significant redevelopment, begun in 2005 and substantially concluded in 2009, includes mixed-use retail, entertainment, office, transit and residential.
We served as structural engineer for four segments of the project, working with four owners and three architects on nearly 1 million square feet of new construction. Through careful coordination and open communication, we were able to manage the foremost challenge of the site: building over a mesh of underground transit lines and pedestrian passages, all of which remained open throughout the project.
- The 17-story media office tower encompasses 550,000 square feet of Class-A office space with one basement level and includes a street-level operations center for a television and radio station.
- The original 1920s mid-rise building on the media tower site had three sub-basement levels. When the building was demolished, the below-grade structure and debris from the demolition was left in the basements, making it difficult to excavate the site for the new media tower. The new building reused many components of the original foundation, including hand-dug rock caissons and portions of the perimeter basement wall.
- The retail portion of the project comprises 70 percent of the site and utilized an up-down construction technique to accelerate construction. It includes four sub-basements.
- For the retail portion, an earth retention system was designed to protect an active freight tunnel just eight feet from the property line, the transit tunnels, and a pedestrian tunnel during excavation of sub-basements.
- Listen to Joe Burns explain the structure and foundation of Block 37 for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.