The Alter Group’s One11 West Illinois Street Receives Praise from the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin

The Alter Group’s One11 West Illinois Street, its 10-story, 227,604 SF Class-A-to-own office building in downtown Chicago’s dynamic River North neighborhood recently received a rave review and from the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic Blair Kamin. Kamin praised architect Martin F. Wolf, Senior Principal with Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates, who “was challenged with a particularly daunting hurdle:  a pair of ungainly, three-story buildings whose owners didn’t want to sell.  The two holdouts created a seemingly unusable panhandle at the western end of Alter’s otherwise rectangular plot.  But Wolf and his colleagues…took the leftover space and transformed it into something dramatic:  a prow-like edge that resembles the front end of a ship ready to steam across LaSalle.”

According to Kamin, “Instead of cramming the problem panhandle with a stubby rectangle of office space, Wolf sliced the building on a diagonal and opened a triangular outdoor plaza in the bargain.  But the slicing yielded that eye-catching glass prow.  It’s displayed, like a jewel within a setting, inside an exposed steel framework that extends beyond the building proper.”

Kamin continued:  “Its highly articulated corner captures the eye of the passerby with its play of light and shadow, solid and void, transparency and reflectivity.  Look closely, and you can see a moiré effect on the mesh.  Step inside the recess between the prow and the mesh, and you are treated to an upward look at the trapezoid-shaped metal grates that form platforms for lights that shine on the prow at night.”

It is heartening to see architecture on a mid-rise office building recognized.  One11 West Illinois Street’s anchor is the Erikson Institute, one of the nation’s leading graduate schools dedicated to the education of child-development professionals, which occupies approximately 75,000 SF.