Chicago’s multi-tower-crane jobs are disappearing fast

A matter of mere days after I’d finally come to grips with no longer having two tower cranes at the new McDonald’s Headquarters in the West Loop, word came that the East Crane at Vista Tower was coming down. I made the pilgrimage over to Streeterville to take a few shots from across the Chicago River, turned to look behind me, and what else do I see? One tower crane at One Bennett Park! I appreciate everyone’s progress here, but noooooooo!

We’re counting on you to never finish, The Lincoln Common!

Vista Tower East Tower Crane

Vista Tower’s East Tower Crane is at half-mast.

One Bennett Park One Tower Crane

What’s funny is, I took this photo earlier Saturday morning for the single crane at Vista Tower, not noticing the half a crane atop One Bennett Park.

Now seems like as good a time as any to revisit and celebrate the TEN TOWER CRANES(!) of Battersea Power Station in London, and the 5-pack of cranes at Jewel Residences in Gold Coast, Australia.

Battersea Power Station London

Jewel Residences, Gold Coast, Australia

The Lincoln Common tower cranes

Please never leave us, Lincoln Common tower cranes! (Announcer voice: The Lincoln Common is almost topped out, so….)

Demolition equipment drives thru Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s

Rock and Roll McDonald's demolition

Bye bye to the old memorabilia pavilion at the Rock and Roll McDonald’s. The restaurant itself will be next to go. Except for the basement. They’re saving the basement.

Tuesday, the City of Chicago issued a demolition permit for one of Chicago’s most beloved tourist attraction, the Rock and Roll McDonald’s at 600 North Clark Street in River North. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone, as the Chicago Tribune broke the news two weeks ago that changes were coming to the restaurant. But Twitter didn’t take kindly to the news. At least, not after the first wave of good riddances had passed. Those happy to see the building bite the dust were soon out-voted by many who hold fond memories of being overcharged to eat alongside statues of The Beatles and other rock and roll memorabilia.

Jay Koziarz at Curbed Chicago was on the scene bright and early, and like many of us, was a little surprised to see crews wasting no time tearing into the small pavilion to the west of the main restaurant.

Alas, some Twitter users were excited about the news, thinking the full-block lot was destined for redevelopment. But that’s not the case. Some of the McDonald’s will stay put, and the whole joint will be renovated. So no, don’t expect any shiny new towers to rise up on the block. Yet.

Rock and Roll McDonald's demolition

You’re next, McDonald’s dining room with the visor.

Rock and Roll McDonald's demolition

Photo by Jay Koziarz at Curbed Chicago mid-demolition.

Rock and Roll McDonald's demolition

John, Paul, George, and RinGONE

Rock and Roll McDonald's demolition

The demolition permit.


The second tower crane is coming down at McDonald’s HQ

McDonald's West Crane removal

Piece by piece, the West Crane at McDonald’s new HQ is coming down.

West Crane at the new McDonald’s Headquarters in the West Loop was the first one to work, and now it’s the last one to go home. Of the two tower cranes, that is.

The two cranes were erected about a week apart back in February, did what McHugh Construction needed them to do, and East Crane came down back in September. West Crane stuck around to get the last of the heavy lifting accomplished, but this week sees it leaving the site as well. Trucks and personnel from Central Contractors Service were out there Thursday disassembling the second Peiner SK415 and lowering it to the ground.

With a stub in the ground at Hayden West Loop but no crane assembled there yet, the West Loop tower crane count drops to 7, tying it with the South Loop for the neighborhood lead. It’ll get it back soon though.

The West Loop is in a tower-crane frenzy

West Loop tower cranes

You’ll have to look closely, but you can see (at least parts of) all 7 West Loop tower cranes in this photo from Halsted Street.

The West Loop is busy with construction. That’s the word we get from Captain Obvious, who sent an email to let us know. There are 7 active tower cranes in the neighborhood right now, with 2 more permitted and on the way.

McDonald's Headquarters west tower crane

The lone remaining tower crane at McDonald’s Headquarters still towers above the West Loop.

1. McDonald’s Headquarters

As you surely must know, McDonald’s used to have two tower cranes. East Crane is gone, but West Crane continues work on Sterling Bay’s future home for the fast-food giant.

Illume Chicago tower crane

The tower crane at Illume Chicago has been up since March.

2. Illume Chicago

Illume Chicago is a 10-story, 79-unit condominium building from LG Development, designed by Pappageorge Haymes Partners. It broke ground back in December 2016.

727 West Madison tower crane

The pretty yellow Liebherr tower crane at 727 West Madison.

3. 727 West Madison

Taking over the parking lot of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 727 West Madison will be a 44-story, 492-unit apartment tower. This is the only active tower crane in the West Loop for Lendlease, which is very busy elsewhere in the city (One Bennett Park, Eleven40, and more.) But a second, at The Van Buren, is coming soon. Designed by FitzGerald, it’s a joint development from Fifield and F&F Realty.

Hoxton Chicago tower crane

The tower crane at the Hoxton Chicago, one of two cranes for Power Construction in the neighborhood.

4. Hoxton Chicago

One of two tower cranes in the West Loop for Power Construction, the Hoxton Chicago is a 12-story, 175-room hotel designed by local firm GREC Architects. It hasn’t begun to go vertical quite yet, but the foundation work continues.

900 West tower crane

The tower crane at 900 West is Power’s second in the West Loop. There’s only that one moon, though.

5. 900 West

900 West is the second Power Construction tower crane in the West Loop. 900 West is another condominium development, bringing 22 luxury units across its 9 stories.

Nobu Hotel tower crane

Centaur Construction’s tower crane at the Nobu Hotel.

6. Nobu Hotel

The only Chicago tower crane for Centaur Construction, the Nobu Hotel got off to a slow start, but has now grown above street-level, on its way to 11 stories. It’s the other of two hotel projects underway in the West Loop.

210 North Carpenter tower crane

Leopardo Companies’ only tower crane on the Chicago count is this brand-spankin’-new one at 210 North Carpenter.

7. 210 North Carpenter

The West Loop’s newest tower crane, and another Sterling Bay project, 210 North Carpenter will be the new home of the general contractor building it, Leopardo Companies. The 12-story office building is expected to open next year.

Coming Soon:

The Van Buren tower crane

The tower crane stub at The Van Buren has its own, adorable house.

The Van Buren

The Van Buren, a 12-story apartment tower at 808 West Van Buren from Loukas Development and bKL Architecture, is one of two permitted tower-crane sites in the West Loop yet to be erected, though the stub has been planted. This is Lendlease’s second West Loop tower crane.

Hayden West Loop tower crane

Hayden West Loop has a tower-crane permit, but no stub yet, as foundation work continues.

Hayden West Loop

Hayden West Loop is awaiting its tower-crane stub after receiving a permit on September 7. When erected, it will be the second Chicago crane for Macon Construction, the first being No. 508.


Ordering two McDonald’s tower cranes to go

McDonald's Headquarters tower crane removal

A yellow street crane waits at the foot of East Crane, ready to bring her down.

Strong Chicago breezes kept Tuesday from being a sad day in the West Loop, but once those winds calm down, the two tower cranes at the McDonald’s Headquarters will be removed.

The Yellow Street Crane Of Doom was on-hand Tuesday, but couldn’t get started on East Crane because of conditions. Wednesday calls for lighter winds, so there’s a good chance crane removal will begin.

Both cranes were erected on the McDonald’s site back in February within a couple days of each other. McHugh Construction was said to be utilizing the top-down method, which allows the frame of the building to go up faster than normal. According to a story by Curbed at ground-breaking time, that shaved off about four months from the construction schedule. Now, a little over six months after the cranes went up, they’ve completed their duty, and it’s time for them to move on.


McDonald's Headquarters tower crane removal

The Stars & Stripes, and the Stars, fly just below the criss-crossing tower cranes at the McDonald’s HQ. Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

McDonald's Headquarters tower crane removal

More tower cranes, more patriotism.


Is that glass? Are those bricks? The McDonald’s Headquarters rolls on

McDonald's Headquarters

We’re starting to see the underside of the ninth floor at the northwest corner of McDonald’s HQ. Plus brick and glass! 

The new McDonald’s Headquarters in the West Loop may not quite be ready for the top sesame-seed bun, but McHugh Construction keeps adding ingredients to the burger giant’s nine-story home. (I like to compare progress to building a hamburger, but with the new Apple Store looking like a gigantic Macbook, we can thank our lucky stars Sterling Bay and Gensler decided not to build this HQ to look like a Big Mac. You think the NIMBY’s would have thought that worked well with its surroundings?)

There are new glass panels on a couple sides now, and some sweet brickwork adorning parts of the exterior. If you take into account setbacks and the like, some of McDonald’s has reached nine stories high. It’s a tad early to start worrying about losing a tower crane or two, but the top-down strategy has paid off, as this project rises incredibly fast.

McDonald's two cranes Aerialscapes

An overhead view of McDonald’s and its two tower cranes by Curtis Waltz at Aerialscapes.

McDonald’s Headquarters nears the middle bun, awaits second beef patty

McDonald's Headquarters

The brand new McDonald’s HQ is poking up through the top of the West Loop.

In one of the most ridiculous comparisons to date, if the new McDonald’s Headquarters being built in the West Loop was a Big Mac, it would be somewhere between the second all-beef patty and the middle bun, with the bottom bun and first patty already in place. That leaves the special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions to go before the top bun is craned into place and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

In more technical terms, The McD HQ is up to the sixth floor, as crews from McHugh Construction continue utilizing two tower cranes to get the nine-story, 550,000-square-foot Sterling Bay development in high gear. The Gensler-designed home of the Golden Arches is slated to open early in 2018, which looks like a sure thing the way progress is going.

Take a walk around McDonald’s

McDonald's HQ

The view from the B.U.C. HQ is still somewhat limited, until McDonald’s rises a few more floors.

If you live in a West Loop condo with a nice balcony (or a drone), you might just have a great view of construction from above the new McDonald’s Headquarters. For the rest of us, circling the block bounded by Randolph, Carpenter, Washington, and Aberdeen is the only way to get a good look at proceedings. So that’s what I did.

Another Flag, Another Tank, Another Crane, for another Friday

Revisiting a very busy section of the West Loop.

In the foreground, the tower crane at the McDonald’s Headquarters site. To the left, a full view of the tower crane at 171 Aberdeen.

The banner yet waving is atop Venue One.

The water tank belongs to 1035 West Lake Street.

Have a great weekend, construction nerds!


American Flag, Water Tank, and Tower Crane (x3) in the West Loop

Flag Tank Crane West Loop

An American Flag, Water Tank, and a mess of tower cranes in Chicago’s West Loop.

The water tank is atop 1035 West Lake Street.

The American Flag waves from atop the old Richter’s Food Products factory, now Venue One.

The tower crane in the distance is at the Landmark West Loop. The two closer cranes are at the McDonald’s Headquarters site.

Flag Tank Crane West Loop

An earlier attempt got a fourth crane, at 171 Aberdeen, but the flag wouldn’t wave.