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Gateway Tower


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August King

Project Name

Gateway Tower

Project Status

Concept Proposal


2,159,094 sq. feet


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Gensler’s concept proposal for “Gateway Tower,” a 2,000-ft, mixed-use skyscraper at the site of the failed Chicago Spire at 400 Lake Shore Drive, aims to “unlock $1 billion in revenue,” according to a press release [diagrams above]. That revenue, according to Gensler, would primarily come from a variety of on-site tourist attractions, such as a skydeck and a funicular ride that's buttressed to the building’s rear. “The [Chicago Spire] project promised luxury residential units for those affluent enough to afford it,” the press release says, but after the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008, “what now remains is a $50 million dollar hole in the ground.” Additionally, the San Francisco-based firm’s proposal allots space for hotel and retail amenities as well as access to DuSable Park, which currently awaits redevelopment.


The Gateway Tower – an unbuilt conceptual design for a 2,000 ft supertall tower and attraction for Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood – represents a fundamentally new way of looking at the integration of public space into complex super-tall building structures. The program included two hotels, condos, and apartments. Special amenities included a park at its base, iconic structural supports that span Lake Shore Drive and provide transportation to skydeck amenities mid-level, and an observation deck at its summit. The conceptual design included 127 floors and 2,159,094 gsf. The tower's iconic and innovative form and unique amenities were intended to make it an international icon, a city attraction, and an economic engine. For the planning, Gensler Chicago assembled a team that included architects, economists and researchers, urban planners, tall building experts, and overall dreamers, to approach the proposed site from all sides. From this process, the “Gateway Tower” arose as a mixed-use mega-tall tower that gave careful consideration to Dusable Park below and Navy Pier to the east. Its form is derived from its context, as a new strategy for super tall towers, embracing diversity by juxtaposing hyper-public space and private space, attracting tourists and locals simultaneously while creating a gateway for the City and the Midwest.

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