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Chicago announces first net-zero high-rise for Loop site

The $102m, 20-story structure, planned by the Community Builders at Van Buren Street and Plymouth Court, was announced winner of Chicago’s C40 Reinventing Cities competition.

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Assemble Chicago will transform under-utilised land in Chicago’s Loop. Image: Studio Gang
Assemble Chicago will transform under-utilised land in Chicago’s Loop. Image: Studio Gang

The City of Chicago has named the winning project for its C40 Reinventing Cities design competition to carbon neutrally redevelop the city-owned Loop parking garage site.

 

The “Assemble Chicago” project from the Community Builders/Studio Gang is for a 20-story, net-zero 100 per cent affordable high-rise building that will create a “stunning transformation” of the under-utilised land.

 

Pritzker Park improvements

 

The project will also support approximately $2m in improvements for green space Pritzker Park, adjacent to the Loop.

 

“This project is emblematic of the deeply positive impacts that community-driven neighbourhood development can have on our entire city,” said Lori Lightfoot, mayor.

 

“Not only will Assemble Chicago help to address our city’s need for more sustainable and affordable housing units, but it will also help to reinvigorate the surrounding Pritzker Park through infrastructure improvements.

 

“I want to thank the Community Builders/Studio Gang and their design partners for their ingenuity, hard work, and commitment to making Chicago a better, more equitable place for all residents.”

 

The $102m, 20-story structure planned by the Community Builders for the City-owned property at Van Buren Street and Plymouth Court was selected through a Department of Planning and Development request for proposals (RFP), issued last year through the international C40 Reinventing Cities competition.

 

Designed by Studio Gang with DesignBridge and JAQ Corp, the Assemble Chicago project was selected over three other net-zero, mixed-use proposals due to its superior design, commitment to affordability, family-sized units, development team experience, proposed purchase price, and community feedback, among other factors.

“We will advance a new policy to enable more innovation in new construction so that more projects that rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, while providing critical relief for residents, are standard practice”

The project’s planned 207 rental units will range from studios to two-bedrooms and be priced for tenants earning 30- to 80 per cent of the Chicago area median income (AMI). Located at the nexus of multiple rapid transit lines, the building will include a two-level podium with a food hall for minority-owned restaurants, non-profit office and meeting space, a produce grocer, and a wellness clinic.

 

“As an all-affordable net-zero housing development, the Assemble Chicago project raises the bar for sustainable design in Chicago,” added Angela Tovar, chief sustainability officer at City of Chicago.

 

“As part of the City’s Green Recovery, we will advance a new policy to enable more innovation in new construction so that more projects that rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, while providing critical relief for residents, are standard practice.”

 

The project will also support approximately $2m in improvements for Pritzker Park, which will be reconfigured and integrated into the adjacent site improvements. Upgrades will include a spray fountain, community stage, rain garden, extensive landscaping, and restrooms. Details will be finalised through a Chicago Park District-led community engagement process.

 

Low-carbon concrete

 

The building will be constructed with an innovative, low-carbon concrete mix that helps achieve LEED Zero Energy Certification and Living Building Challenge Materials Petal Certification.

 

The project is expected to generate approximately 530 temporary and permanent jobs. The site is currently occupied by a vacant parking garage and vacant land.

 

The property, recently appraised at $7.95m, will be sold to the Community Builders for $1, pending approval by City Council. Zoning and other project considerations may also be subject to council approval. Groundbreaking could begin later this year.

 

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