A Chicago Tower Crane Survey from 110 North Wacker

110 North Wacker (Bank of America Tower to some of you) is open to the public this weekend for Open House Chicago 2021. The 55th floor is a continuous, wide-open space, and a great vantage point to see Chicago. If you’re like me, and think the Sears Tower is just a tad too high for your modest camera-lens collection, this is the ticket.

I got a good view of our five remaining tower cranes from up here.

And an honorable mention for 300 North Michigan, which is being taken down.

The space:

Chicago has 8 tower cranes on the horizon, but only 5 on the skyline

I don’t usually do a tower crane count mid-month, but dang, only five of them?

Yeah, our tower crane count has dipped to five, with 2050 West Ogden and 300 North Michigan recently (or currently) being taken down.

But take heart, Chicago. We have more on the way soon, with eight having permits and expected to be in the air relatively soon:

  • The Obama Center has a permit for three of them
  • 164 North Peoria has wrapped up caisson work.
  • 1306 E. 61st (U of C) has a permit
  • ALLY Lincoln Yards has a permit
  • 513 South Damen has a permit
  • 4611 North Broadway has a permit

410 South Wabash has completed caissons, but we’re still waiting for a tower crane permit for it.

Don’t forget, 1000M (1000 South Michigan) had a stub in the ground, but the crane was never erected. And 178 West Randolph and 320 South Clinton have permits, but . . . who knows.

Let’s keep an eye on LG Development’s HUGO project at Hudson and Chicago. Maybe one tower crane to build both nine-story buildings?

166 North Aberdeen is in caisson mode. That’s a 20-story tower, and will need a TC for sure.

Here are the five tower cranes we *do* have:


📸 Throwback Thursday: All 62 Chicago Tower Cranes of 2017 🏗

This is a repost from December 2017, when the City of Chicago saw a total of 62 tower cranes in the air. I’m not confident in my ability to get an accurate count for 2021, but my guesstimate is somewhere around 25 so far.

Chicago had 62 tower cranes in 2017

Chicago closes 2017 having had a record 62 tower cranes operating across the skyline throughout the year. Before 2018 takes over, let’s recap them all.

Who had tower cranes in 2017?

  1. Power Construction – 13
  2. Lendlease – 13
  3. McHugh Construction – 11
  4. Linn-Mathes – 4
  5. Walsh Construction – 3
  6. W.E. O’Neil – 3
  7. Clark Construction – 2
  8. 13 companies had one tower crane in 2017: Pepper Construction (Moxy Hotel); Macon Construction (No. 508); Centaur Construction (Nobu Hotel); Onni Group (Old Town Park); Optima (Optima Signature); M.A. Mortenson Company (Home2 Suites River North); Norcon (Illume Chicago); Bulley-Andrews (DePaul School of Music); Clayco (Cook County Central Campus Health Center); Novak Construction (171 Aberdeen); Leopardo Companies (210 North Carpenter); Tishman (aLoft Chicago Mag Mile); DLG  (3833 North Broadway)

Where were they?

  1. West Loop – 13
  2. South Loop – 11
  3. River North – 9
  4. Streeterville – 8
  5. Lincoln Park – 5
  6. Lake View – 4
  7. Near North – 2
  8. Gold Coast – 2
  9. Lakeshore East – 2
  10. Six neighborhoods had one crane each in 2017 – The Loop (151 North Franklin); Illinois Medical District (Cook County Central Campus Health Center); Uptown (Eight Eleven Uptown); Hyde Park (Solstice on the Park); River West (Spoke); Wicker Park (Wicker Park Connection)

What were they building?

  1. Residential – *40.5
  2. Hotel – 10
  3. Office – *5.5
  4. Medical – 3
  5. There was one Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Meetinghouse) one School (DePaul School of Music) and one Commercial building (The Apple Store)

* One crane built Hubbard 221 (residential) and 412 North Wells (office) hence the half-crane in those two categories. The two tower cranes at Vista Tower are building residences and a hotel, so one crane goes to each of those two categories.

And now, photographs of all our 2017 Chicago Tower Cranes:

Three tower cranes permitted for Obama Presidential Center

The tower crane x3 permit.

Chicago construction, and the enthusiasts who enthuse it, needed this bit of news.

Saturday, the City of Chicago issued a permit to drill caissons for three tower cranes in Jackson Park at the Obama Presidential Center.

With only seven in the air now, three on one site, not only a rare feat in Chicago, would give us a nice jolt in the crane count.

Turner Construction is the general contractor on the Obama Center. W.E. O’Neil is the concrete contractor. Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects — Partners is the design architect.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the site September 28.

I’m almost sorry I counted, as Chicago dips to just seven tower cranes in the air

Fine, that seems a little dramatic. But seven tower cranes ain’t a lot of tower cranes. (And one of them isn’t even in operation yet.) The Chicago Seven are:

  1. Salesforce Tower (333 West Wolf Point Plaza.) Walsh Construction is the general contractor. Hines is the developer. Pelli Clarke Pelli is the design architect.
Salesforce Tower

2. 300 North Michigan. Linn-Mathes is the general contractor. Sterling Bay and Magellan Development are the co-developers. bKL Architecture is the design architect.

300 North Michigan

3. Plumbers Local 130 Parking Garage (1371 West Randolph.) W.E. O’Neil is the general contractor. Plumbers Local 130 is the developer. OKW Architects is the design architect.

1371 W Randolph

4. The Reed at Southbank (234 West Polk.) Lendlease is the general contractor and developer. Perkins + Will is the design architect.

The Reed at Southbank

5. 354 North Union. Onni Group is the general contractor and developer. Pappageorge Haymes Partners is the design architect.

354 North Union

6. Gateway Apartments (2050 West Ogden.) Global Builders is the general contractor. Piekarz Associates is the design architect.

Gateway Apartments

7. 345 North Morgan is being assembled as you read this, so I’m counting it. Skender is the general contractor. Sterling Bay is the developer. Eckenhoff Saunders Architects is the design architect.

345 North Morgan

Yes, there are a few on the way. These have tower crane permits:

410 South Wabash is done with foundation work.
1000M will hopefully be back in business soon.
164 North Peoria is still in caisson mode.
ALLY at Lincoln Yards hasn’t broken ground quite yet, but site work has started, at it got a foundation permit last week.
1306 East 61st Street – The University of Chicago doesn’t have any other permits yet.
178 West Randolph and 320 South Clinton? I’m not holding my breath.

No permit, but . . .

UIC had a tower crane at the UI Health Outpatient Surgery Center & Specialty Clinics crane is being dismantled this week. UIC may need a crane at 700 West Taylor for its Computer Design Research and Learning Center. But there won’t be a city permit for it, should there be one, because this is being built under the State of Illinois’ authority.
513 South Damen just got a foundation permit for 21 stories.

Did I miss any? Let me know.

W.E. O’Neil raises the tower crane at 1371 West Randolph

Chicago made it back to double digits Thursday, as W.E. O’Neil finished erecting the city’s 10th active tower crane at 1371 West Randolph Street in the West Loop. That crane will build the seven-story parking garage for the Plumbers Local 130, on what used to be a portion of their surface parking lot.

I would once again like to point out that those guys up there, especially out on the jib, are in no danger of losing their jobs to me.

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Onni Group plants a tower crane at 354 North Union

Tuesday, right here in this very space, I pointed out the verticality Onni Group was achieving at 354 North Union despite not having the tower crane in place yet. Perhaps I could have waited two more days . . .

This will be the 11th tower crane in Chicago if it’s fully erected before any of the topped-out projects (Parq Fulton, Evo Union Park, One Chicago, UI Health) take theirs down.

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W.E. O’Neil plants a tower crane stub at 1371 West Randolph

This week-old stub at 1371 West Randolph will build a parking garage.

As one Randolph Street tower crane goes, so comes another.

The Plumbers Union 130 parking garage has a tower crane stub in the ground as of last Monday, according to the kind folks on site from W.E. O’Neil. The rest of the crane should be up by the end of this week, allowing Chicago to crawl back into double digits.

Not sure why double digits is such a big deal to me, other than indicating some sort of threshold for where we “should” or “shouldn’t” be, tower-cranewise. It means nothing substantial, really. However, I scored in double digits exactly once in my high school basketball career, and that IS important.

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Chicago’s July 2021 Tower Crane Survey clings desperately to double digits

We are down to 10 active tower cranes in Chicago. Not saying sound the alarm, but I’d know where the panic button is, just in case.

Paying close attention to Randolph Street. 609 West Randolph has been topped out for awhile, so that crane could come down by the time I type this sentence. Especially the way I type. 1400 West Randolph (Parq Fulton) and 1454 West Randolph (Evo Union Park) both celebrated topping out last week, so the days for those two cranes are numbered. There’s still no sign of 178 West Randolph getting started, despite its tower crane permit from March 2020. The good news is, the Plumbers Union parking garage at 1371 should get a crane this month.

We could also get a new crane at 354 North Union during July. It was permitted in May. Plus, a full building permit was issued in June for 345 North Morgan, so the tower crane permit issued for that in March 2020 (as was the foundation permit) will soon be put to use. Before July ends though? We’ll have to wait and see.

Two tower cranes, at 1043 Fulton and 320 South Canal, have been taken down since the June survey.

Where are the tower cranes?

  • West Loop – 2 (609 W Randolph and Parq Fulton)
  • River North – 2 (Salesforce Tower and One Chicago)
  • Illinois Medical District – 2 (UI Health and gateway Apartments)
  • West Town – 1 (Evo Union Park)
  • Gold Coast – 1 (Gild Chicago)
  • The Loop – 1 (300 North Michigan)
  • Portage Park – 1 (Clarendale Six Corners)

What are they building?

  • Residential – 6.5
  • Office – 2
  • Medical – 1 (UI Health)
  • Hotel – .5 (300 North Michigan Hotel/Residential)

Who has tower cranes?

  • Power Construction – 4
  • Skender Construction – 1 (609 West Randolph)
  • Ryan Companies – 1 (Clarendale Portage Park)
  • Global Builders – 1 (Gateway Apartments)
  • Pepper Construction – 1 (UI Health)
  • Walsh Construction – 1 (Salesforce Tower)
  • Linn-Mathes – 1 (300 North Michigan)

Enjoy the photos? Metra and CTA rides, Zipcars, Divvy Bikes, camera lenses, and comfortable walking shoes are adding up. You can help offset expenses by making a greatly-appreciated donation to Building Up Chicago.

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