The 151 North Franklin project is a 36-story office tower located in the heart of Chicago’s “Loop” financial district, across from an existing urban pocket park. Technically-advanced and sustainable, the building creates a forward-looking professional environment that supports new ways of working.
In a departure from the typology of the typical hermetic urban office tower, the base of the building is carved away at grade to create a four-story covered plaza that extends the adjacent park into the site and creates an urban public space which mediates between the enclosed building and the city. Slightly raised from the sidewalk and shaded with trees, this “urban room” provides an outdoor space for working and meeting, and constitutes a new urban condition, a space of interaction which feeds off the urban energy around it and gives something back to the city in return.
The project is comprised of three compositional elements: a two-story stone base that covers the site, a glass curtain wall-enclosed tower, and sandblasted glass-clad core volume engaging the two. The building’s basalt stone base features a sequence of interconnected spaces designed to provide areas that support new ways of working. The building’s main lobby, accessed through the covered outdoor plaza, feels as though it has been carved from a solid block of stone. Inside, a monumental stair leads to the building’s second level, which overlooks the lobby below. From this level, another unexpected space is revealed: an outdoor terrace created by sliding the elegantly-proportioned glass tower element above to the western edge of the site. Contrasting with the more active plaza at grade, the atmosphere of this space is quiet and contemplative, and provides a place for building occupants to relax and unwind. Inside at the second level, leading to the fitness club and overlooking the lobby, is an indoor lounge area where building users can work, meet and collaborate.
The tower floors above are housed in a single, strong, clear volume with a taut glass skin that stretches from floor to ceiling. Its rounded corners give the building a light, clean, technical appearance from the outside that contrasts with the more earthbound stone mass of the building at grade. Ceiling heights in the office tower are ten feet high to maximize daylight and bring it deep into the building floor plate. The floor plan and elevator core layout is designed to maximize efficiency and flexibility for a variety of office layouts, and oriented to optimize views and access to light. At the top of the office tower is another outdoor space for the exclusive use of tenants—a roof terrace that overlooks the city.