The Reed tower crane is no more

Topping out is such sweet sorrow. Sure, no one wants to live in a tower that hasn’t topped out yet. But at what cost? Losing another tower crane? Alas, The Reed at Southbank’s topping out meant the loss of its crane was inevitable, and the painstaking process of disassembly is underway.

You Got This. (It’s glass; The Reed’s got glass)

Lendlease has got this, indeed.

The first two levels of glass are being installed on The Reed, the second residential tower at Southbank, Lendlease’s neighborhood development on the South Branch of the Chicago River. You’re probably familiar with The Reed because of the tower crane in the South Loop that looks like a red hammerhead shark. If you squint and are slightly dehydrated. Whatever. It’s a cool crane.

First glass is always a favorite milestone of mine when it comes to construction. So this was fun to see, which resulted in lots of photos. (And these don’t even include my two previous visits to The Reed that I didn’t get around to posting.) I know; you’re shocked.

Enjoying the photos? Metra and CTA rides (and Amtrak trains to Milwaukee), Zipcars, Divvy Bikes, camera lenses, domain fees, snacks & energy drinks, and comfortable walking shoes add up. You can help offset expenses by making a greatly-appreciated donation to Building Up Chicago.

Progress Update: The Reed at Southbank grows along the South Branch

View of The Reed at Southbank from Franklin & Washington in The Loop.

The Reed at Southbank, the second tower in Lendlease’s mega development in the South Loop, continues to rise along the Chicago River. For those of you counting, and even those who aren’t, the core looks to be about 11-12 stories above the parking podium, with full floors rising 10 stories or so.

You already know tons about The Reed, right? You don’t need to hear me banter about details. I’ll just share progress photos from Monday the 21st.

Enjoying the photos? Metra and CTA rides (and Amtrak trains to Milwaukee), Zipcars, Divvy Bikes, camera lenses, domain fees, snacks & energy drinks, and comfortable walking shoes add up. You can help offset expenses by making a greatly-appreciated donation to Building Up Chicago.

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:

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.

A foundation update from The Reed at Southbank

A quick look around The Reed at Southbank Monday showed an awful lot of piles driven into the South Loop soil, with lots more stacked up waiting their turn. I only saw one caisson above ground, and that was there on my most recent trip June 21 (part of the “vertical access shaft” work, I think). I thought to myself, Self? Are they doing piles before caissons? Are the caissons done already? Are there only piles and no caissons? In the June photo, you’ll notice there were already piles of piles to be driven.

My conclusion? I don’t know. But I have some photos to show you.

The Reed at Southbank scores its foundation permit

The foundation permit, issued June 7.


And with those words, issued by the City of Chicago Monday, The Reed at Southbank may begin construction. Lendlease is the general contractor, with McHugh Concrete doing the concrete work. (Note: in “official” contractor-speak, the tower crane “belongs” to the concrete contractor. But around here, we aren’t diligent enough to find and name all the sub-contractors on construction projects, so the general contractor is credited for the tower crane. We don’t mean to slight anyone; it’s just how we do it.)

The Reed at Southbank will be the second tower at Lendlease’s Southbank development. Its first, The Cooper, opened in 2018. The Reed, also designed by Perkins + Will, will be a 41-story mix of apartments and condominiums

They’ve been out there tearing up the ground for while now, prepping the site and doing that vertical shaft thing we mentioned before. But now it’s time for the real fun to start.

Rendering from The Reed at Southbank website.

Earth is being moved at The Reed at Southbank

Drilling an individual vertical shaft (layman’s term) for The Reed at Southbank.

“Vertical access shafts” are a thing. Which explains why crews are at the future home of The Reed at Southbank are tearing up the yard and digging in the dirt. For-real construction is expected to begin by the time summer months arrive in Chicago. Lendlease will, of course, be their own general contractor, in addition to their developer duties.

The Reed at Southbank will be the second tower at Lendlease’s Southbank development. Its first, The Cooper, opened in 2018. The Reed will be a 41-story mix of apartments and condominiums. This is how Lendlease describes it:


Developed and constructed by Lendlease, The Reed is a 41-story luxury residential high-rise located at 234 W. Polk Street, as the next phase of its Southbank neighborhood development in Chicagos South Loop. The new building, which will offer 216 luxury condominiums on its upper floors and 224 rental apartments located on floors 9 through 22, marks the second residential tower in Southbank, a 7-acre master plan centered around 2 acres of public green space, known as Southbank Park, along the South Branch of the Chicago River.

The Reed boasts two well-appointed amenity suites for residents to enjoy, including a 12,000-square-foot outdoor amenity deck on the eighth floor overlooking Southbank Park. Residents will share access to an indoor amenity space on the eighth floor and owners will have exclusive use of an additional amenity space on the second floor, which is at grade with Southbank Park. The intentional placement of the second-floor amenities and use of full-height windows is intended to establish continuity between the park and tower, according to project architect Perkins+Will, which also designed The Cooper and the broader Southbank master plan.

Condo layouts include one, two- and three-bedroom plans priced from the $390,000s and ranging in size from 630 to 1,670 square feet. Occupying floors 23 to 41 of the tower, The Reeds condominiums celebrate the buildings idyllic location with floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase stunning views of the skyline, Lake Michigan and Chicago River, as well as Southbank Park, which borders the northern side of the building. The towers interiors pay homage to the surrounding neighborhood with an industrial-chic aesthetic that is realized through concrete ceilings and metal finishing throughout residences.

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