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Thursday
Oct202016

Office Amenities Galore Coming to Chicago’s West Loop

Fulton West is right at home in Chicago's West Loop, a destination to live, work and play. Image © Gensler

Chicago’s West Loop is quickly transforming from meatpacking district to the see-and-be-seen urban destination for creative, tech and office-rise, warehouse-style buildings with unobstructed views of the Chicago skyline. It’s a draw for people looking for a dynamic urban neighborhood replete with Michelin starred restaurants and loft-style housing, all within a ten minute walk of The Loop. New hotels including the recently-opened Soho House and upcoming Nobu Hotel, Ace Hotel and Hoxton Hotel will further diversify the neighborhood offering to make the West Loop a destination to live, work and play for Chicago residents and tourists alike.

This uniquely urban mix has led to a wave of creative and tech business moving in, including companies such as Google, StubHub, Uber and Glassdoor. And now, one of the Fortune 500 longstanding members, McDonald's Corporation, has announced that it too will move its headquarters from a suburb of Chicago to the heart of the West Loop, into the Gensler-designed 110 N. Carpenter, a new 600,000 square foot office development by Sterling Bay.

Image © Gensler

The Fulton Market neighborhood originally developed as Chicago’s district for food production and distribution, but it recently evolved into Chicago's hub for innovative industries. One of the newest developments within this corridor is Fulton West, a project Gensler is designing for Sterling Bay. Fulton West is a nine-story, 292,000 square foot speculative office development with 610 on-site parking spaces in an attached 250,000 square foot parking structure. Currently in construction, the building topped out in late August 2016.

Located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Fulton and Elizabeth Streets, Fulton West will feature 40,000 square-foot open floor plans, large leasing spans, and east, south and west facing facades with private balconies and outdoor decks with unobstructed city views. It will be an amenity-rich building with perks like a gym, bike storage, showers, restaurants and access to a courtyard.

Image © Gensler

The idea here is to give employees in Fulton West a choice of where to work, whether it's having an informal meeting outside, taking a conference call while walking on a treadmill or chatting with co-workers sharing a meal. Fulton West will build upon the lifestyle that its neighborhood now offers Chicagoans. Sterling Bay understands this demand and is responding to it with uniquely authentic language and diversified amenities, which in return give Sterling Bay a competitive advantage in the market.

As we began our design for Fulton West, identifying an authentic language and appropriate neighborhood aesthetic was a key focus of our conversations with Sterling Bay. We wanted to complement the urban context and respect its scale, yet fit a nine-story building onto the site. The streetscape in the building's immediate area is lined with three and four story brick warehouses, whose windows create a unique urban rhythm.

Image © Gensler

Fulton West is designed in harmony with the surrounding area. With a nod to its neighboring brick warehouses, it will include a dark grey brick and concrete base, but visitors will look up to find bright silver aluminum and glass windows that flood the space with natural light. This contrasting strong base with a lighter structure above signals that the building will house offices.

There were many key design drivers in this project. It was not only important to tailor the building to fit into the streetscape, tenant amenities were essential. Carving out exterior terraces and balconies for each floor to capture some of the most exciting and inspiring views of Chicago Skyline for tenants and their future clients became a signature move for Sterling Bay. It adds unique experiences for tenants and in return yields premium leasing prices.

Fulton West will bolster “The Tech Corridor" within what the City of Chicago has designated as the Fulton Market Innovation District in the West Loop. Construction is on schedule to welcome its first tenants in the spring of 2017.

Sasha Zeljic is a principal and regional practice area leader for Commercial Office Buildings in Gensler's Chicago office. With a strong emphasis on research and implementation of sustainable design, Sasha is particularly interested in exterior envelopes and conceptually advanced high-performance building façades. Contact him at aleksandar_zeljic@gensler.com.