Thanks to swanky modern amenities and killer views, high-rises are hotter than ever. Here, a bird’s-eye view of the latest and greatest.
The city of big shoulders is a reference to the metropolis’ well-deserved reputation as a hardworking town, but one could be forgiven for assuming that it’s talking about our many skyscrapers.
Chicago, after all, is the birthplace of the modern glass-and-steel high-rise — the Home Insurance Building, which was completed in 1885 and stood only 10 stories tall. While it’s long gone, replaced in 1931 by what is now the LaSalle Bank Building, it inspired a long list of iconic buildings by architectural greats like Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and more recently, Jeanne Gang.
But what’s it like to actually live in the clouds? As developers try to one-up each other by offering increasingly luxe amenities, many of the new towers feel a lot like posh five-star hotels.
Friendly doorman? Slick exercise room near the elevators? Think bigger — way bigger.
Anyone feeling stressed should consider a move to Two West Delaware, a new Gold Coast building that boasts a serene outdoor meditation garden in addition to a yoga studio and a full-service salon and spa. Ommmmm. 2 W. Delaware Place, Chicago
Love to entertain? OneEleven has you covered with its screening room, billiard lounge, and retractable wall that creates a seamless flow between the indoor swimming pool and a sundeck with private kitchens and fire pits. 111 W. Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago
A bright orange and yellow staircase links the seventh and eighth floors of the 57-story Optima Signature, which houses a stunning lounge complete with a coffee bar, a golf simulator and putting green, an indoor lap pool, a basketball court, a track, and spa-like locker rooms — a list that is by no means complete (have we mentioned the 20th-floor lounge?). 220 E. Illinois St., Chicago
The residents at 70-story One Bennett Park, a 279-unit rental building in Streeterville — and the tallest all-residential building downtown — have 24-hour access to an adjacent 1.7-acre park that was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the firm responsible for The 606 and the whimsical Maggie Daley Park. 451 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Animal lovers are in good company at 465 North Park, which has not only a dog run but also a glitzy pet spa. All told, there is nearly an acre devoted to amenities. The tower’s 38th-floor sky deck includes a 12,000-square-foot fitness center, as well as an outdoor swimming pool with cabanas, fire pits, and a slick demo kitchen. 465 N. Park Drive, Chicago
Chicago is flat as a board in every direction, but thanks to the city’s most famous invention, it’s got views galore — you just have to know where to find them. Afraid of heights? Hey, we warned you!
Every table here enjoys unobstructed views of the Chicago River, the corncob-shaped Marina Towers, and other landmark buildings. From the glass railing, the views extend to Lake Michigan and the Magnificent Mile. 85 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago
While Willis Tower might be the tallest building in the city, 360 Chicago (formerly the John Hancock Observatory) offers an even more spectacular perspective. Adventurous types will go gaga for TILT, a clear glass structure that extends out over the city. 875 N. Michigan Ave., 94th floor, Chicago
While not nearly as high as more modern properties (the 12-story structure was built 90 years ago), the J. Parker at the Lincoln Hotel offers bistro fare, fab cocktails, and intimate vistas of Lincoln Park and the ever-changing skyline in the distance. 1816 N. Clark St., 13th floor, Chicago
The fifth-floor terrace offers delicious cocktails and sweeping skyline views. As a part of Gwen Lux Suite, The Gwen also offers rooftop glamping — furnished tents with no ticks, bears, or other inconveniences. 521 N. Rush St., Chicago
In Japanese, Noyane means “hidden roof” — an apt name for the restaurant’s primo perch atop the Conrad Hotel. Outfitted with lounge seating and festival lights, the outdoor patio boasts sweeping city views day or night. 101 E. Erie St., Chicago
See How They Rise
It’s official: Skyscrapers are taking over the city. Here’s proof:
1. Vista Tower, 363 E. Upper Wacker Drive
2. One Grant Park, 113 E. Roosevelt Road
3. One Bennett Park, 451 E. Grand Ave.
4. Essex on the Park, 808 S. Michigan Ave.
5. The Paragon, 1326 S. Michigan Ave.
6. CNA Center, 151 N. Franklin St.
7. Old Town Park, Phase 1, 1140 N. Wells St.
8. Ancora at Riverline, 720 S. Wells St.
9. Eight Eleven Uptown, 824 W. Montrose Ave.
10. Solstice on the Park, 1600 E. 53rd St.
11. Gr333N, 333 N. Green St.
12. Lincoln Common ‘A1’ and ‘A2,’ 2345 and 2335 N. Lincoln Ave.
13. Renelle on the River, 403 N. Wabash Ave.
14. Aloft Hotel Mag Mile, 327 E. Ontario St.
15. Home2Suites by Hilton, 110 W. Huron St.
16. Wicker Park Connection, 1640 W. Division St.
17. 1000M, 1006 S. Michigan Ave.
18. Webster Square, 558 W. Webster Ave.
19. Wolf Point East, 313 W. Wolf Point Plaza
20. No. 9 Walton, 9 W. Walton St.
Tate Gunnerson is a Chicago-based freelance journalist with an equal appreciation for natural beauty and good design. He is a passionate supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Kidney Foundation.