While the upcoming skyscraper known as NEMA Chicago will offer impressive views and 70,000 square feet of amenities to its future residents, the 76-story rental tower will make a different kind of contribution to the city at large, says its famous designer Rafael Viñoly.
“Buildings are by far much more than just economic equations,” explained the Uruguayan architect in a newly released design video. “They are there to contribute to the city.” In the case of NEMA, that meant creating a tower that was both visually striking, contextual to its location, and respectful of the history of Chicago—a place Viñoly regards as “the birthplace of American architecture.”
The designer explained his vision to “frame” Grant Park by striking a visual balance between his 896-foot-tall tower and the existing skyscrapers to the north such as the Aon Center. In addition to bookending Chicago’s famous front lawn, the design evokes Chicago’s tradition of structural expressionism by mirroring the stacked three-by-three bays of the Willis Tower.
The South Loop high-rise from developer Crescent Heights isn’t Viñoly’s first Chicago project—he also designed the Booth School of Business and Center for Care and Discovery at the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus—but it is the architect’s first opportunity to leave his mark on the city’s world famous skyline.
Judging by the animations in the video, it seems Viñoly and his team have done a successful job of doing just that. NEMA Chicago broke ground in early 2017 and is on track to top-off later this month and welcome its first residents in May.