NEMA Chicago, one of the city’s biggest apartment buildings to sprout up in years — both in height and unit count — is leasing up for its first wave of move-ins next month. The 896-foot tower, Chicago’s tallest residential rental building, will open at 1200 South Indiana Avenue in the South Loop on May 1, delivering 800 new units to the burgeoning downtown market.

Residents who’ve watched NEMA rise over the past year and a half might notice something familiar about its appearance. The building’s “bundled tube” design, which features a series of staggered setbacks as the tower increases in height, bears a striking resemblance to Willis Tower.

That’s no coincidence: Its developer, Crescent Heights, hired New York-based Rafael Viñoly to conjure a design that would serve as a southern bookend to Grant Park. In an act of homage to Chicago’s architectural legacy, Viñoly took inspiration from Willis Tower’s structural expressionism.

“There’s a lot of busy design in the area, and we wanted a building that could stand on its own,” says Tomer Bitton, the Chicago-based principal with Crescent Heights.

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