Modern Chicago with Blair Kamin

Chicago Tribune's award-winning architecture critic Blair Kamin stops by to discuss Maggie Daley Park and future plans for the city.

Wanda Tower

The Chicago skyline will be graced with a new addition in the years to come. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces a skyscraper designed by celebrated local architect Jeanne Gang that will be built on East Wacker Drive.

What makes this $900 million project unique is that it has Wanda Group, a Chinese developer, committed to the project. Typically, Chinese developers commission Chicago architects for their skyscraper expertise to build overseas. This is one of the first instances in which a development of this kind will be built within the City of Chicago.



“This is an opportunity for the City of Chicago and with this agreement that we are welcoming this investment in the City of Chicago, the opportunities that come with it and also note fully that this is in my view, a great building,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday.

The Wanda tower will serve as a residential building and also house a luxurious, five-star hotel. The original plans had the 89-story skyscraper reaching 1,148 feet which would make it the third tallest building in Chicago. However, there is talk that the building will now be 88 stories as the number 8 is considered a sign of luck in Chinese culture.

The design itself will consist of three high-rise structures of varying height interweaving as it soars upward. While the renderings paint a unique picture, many details about the actual building are still unknown.

“We know the shape and that some glass will be used in the exterior but we have no idea about other materials used – whether it will use exposed concrete. That is still unclear,” said Blair Kamin.

While there have been rumblings about a Wanda Group construction in Lakeshore East since this summer, the confirmation of this mega-project is well-timed. Top U.S. and Chinese officials are in town this week to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a treaty meant to encourage investment and strengthen economic ties between the U.S., China, Japan, and a host of other Asian countries.

“I think the size of the skyscraper is only matched and equaled by the size of the statement it’s making in the City of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

According to city officials, construction of the building will start in 2016.