Daniel Hudson Burnham, Chicago’s oft-quoted urban planner, famously described his methodology in terms of advice: “Make no little plans.” It’s no surprise that this exhortation, though it dates back to the turn of the century, remains alive in the imaginations of many Chicagoans. It predicted the spirit of the city, which became home to the world’s first skyscraper and America’s most influential architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. BBC recently described Chicago as “a swaggering place, boastful of its scale and achievements” and “the city that changed architecture forever.” Indeed, the fearless architectural history and breathless spirit of the city feel very much alive today and are manifest in NEMA Chicago, the Downtown Chicago apartments that are nearing completion.
Chicago’s famous imperative to “make no little plans” seems perfectly in line with NEMA’s design. At a staggering 76 stories tall, there’s nothing “little” about NEMA’s scale; it is now Chicago’s tallest rental residence and an essential masterpiece of the city’s skyline. While all skyscrapers, by nature, offer views, no residential views in the city will be quite as sweeping. With the glittering skyline at eye-level, Grant Park teeming with people below, and the moody waters of Lake Michigan stretching out far beyond, these Downtown Chicago rentals give the impression of standing at a crossroads, a fact that feels in tune with Chicago’s exhilarating character. Rafael Viñoly, the architect behind NEMA Chicago, is the mind behind projects across six continents, including the Tokyo International Forum, Marble Arch Place in London, Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat in Buenos Aires, the Rockefeller University River Campus in NYC, One River Point in Miami, and the Kimmel Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia. Prior to working on NEMA Chicago, Viñoly has also famously designed 432 Park Avenue condo tower in New York City, making it the tallest residence in Western Hemisphere and one of the most expensive addresses in the world. In his description of NEMA, Viñoly says he envisioned that it would have a “seamless relationship” with Chicago’s iconic urban layout, aiming to “bookend the city skyline” by ensuring the “structural system evokes that of the iconic Willis Tower.”
While NEMA has quickly become a familiar sight for Chicagoans and visitors gazing upon the skyline, these Downtown Chicago rentals offer more than a prestigious address to residents. There is 70,000 square feet of amenities, including extensive wellness facilities ranging from boxing ring to spa treatment rooms, an airy indoor/outdoor residents lounge, an indoor lap pool, and a south-facing outdoor pool with an extensive deck, outfitted for outdoor lounging and entertaining. Floor-to-ceiling windows evoke the feeling of soaring, and a 24-hour concierge, along with a robust package of resident services, create an ambiance of comfort and care.
In fact, no detail has gone unconsidered, including within the interiors, which will also take their inspiration from the city. David Rockwell, the mind behind NEMA’s interior design, has a wide-ranging roster of projects under his belt, including some of the country’s most imaginative restaurants, music venues, hotels, and even playgrounds. If Rockwell is known for any one thing, it may be his proclivity toward the theatrical; in 2016, he won a Tony for his work on the set for She Loves Me. Forbes recently noted that “Rockwell enjoys using his expertise to set the stage for how people live their lives.” And, as a Chicago native, he has a particular sensitivity to the ways Chicagoans live their lives.
Beyond the keyless entry (via NEMA fob card or mobile app), the stage for each residence at NEMA Chicago will include Caesarstone countertops, Blomberg stainless-steel gas ranges, paneled dishwashers, and bathrooms with chrome Hansgrohe fixtures and Duravit sinks. Each home will also contain a full-size washer and dryer and Chicago-sourced custom cabinetry with dimmable lighting. Select residences will have extra features, including 30-foot-long balconies, kitchen islands, walk-in closets, and dual vanity bathrooms.
Inside and outside, we can think of no better setting than NEMA Chicago. Welcome to your new Downtown life.