14. THREATENED: Union Station Tower Addition Redevelopment Proposed

A massive $1 billion redevelopment proposal was been presented by Amtrak for Chicago Union Station. On May 25, 2017, Mayor Emanuel and Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman unveiled a plan which includes five new high-rises, public plazas, a rooftop garden, and a food court. The plan is expected to take six years to complete and will be completed in three phases.

The project was designed by Chicago-based Goettsch Partners and the Chicago-based Riverside Investment and Development was selected to lead the project with joint venture from Convexity Properties. Riverside Investment recently finished the 150 N. Riverside Plaza office tower. Convexity Properties recently completed the Robey Hotel in Wicker Park’s historic Northwest Tower.
Of paramount concern to Preservation Chicago, the plan includes a pair of glassy, residential towers atop the historic landmark Daniel Burnham/Graham, Anderson, Probst and White-designed, Union Station Headhouse. Preservation Chicago is concerned that the proposed contemporary towers will an inappropriate addition to a highly significant historic landmark building. Additionally, we’re concerned about the new construction negatively impacting the existing historic fabric and integrity of the Headhouse and Great Hall.

Union Station is Chicago’s finest and last connection to an era and an industry that played a major role in Chicago’s growth and history. The Beaux-Arts Union Station, with its magnificent Great Hall and massive Corinthian-order travertine columns were widely celebrated when it was opened in 1925. The dramatic space is an ideal set for movies and the grand staircase was featured prominently in The Untouchables.

Union Station’s interior spaces and commuter experience have never recovered from the demolition of the soaring Union Station Concourse in 1969 to make way for an office building. Therefore, any changes to this important landmark must be handled with the utmost sensitivity.
Significant and very positive restoration work has been underway at Union Station over the past couple years and has returned several important interior spaces and features back into public use, such as the Women’s Lounge, now known as the Burlington Room, and the Men’s Lounge and Barber Shop, now a series of passenger lounges. Preservation Chicago has played an active role as a consulting partner in this process with Amtrak and the City of Chicago and applauds their accomplishments.

The Union Station Power House located at 301 W. Taylor Street, also by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White and was shuttered in 2011, and was a Preservation Chicago 7 2017 Most Endangered Building. It remains threatened with a $13 million demolition for replacement with a surface parking lot.

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