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It's Not Exactly the Chicago Spire, but Riverfront Sculpture Will Have Santiago Calatrava Signature All Over It

Famous Architect to Create Public Art Sculpture for River Point's Riverfront Plaza
May 8, 2018

Credit: Santiago Calatrava LLC.

Santiago Calatrava will leave a legacy in Chicago after all.

The internationally known, Spanish-born architect who captivated the city a decade ago with drawings for a striking spiraling skyscraper that, not surprisingly, was dubbed the Chicago Spire, unveiled designs for a riverfront sculpture Monday.

Unlike the Chicago Spire though, it looks like this one will actually get built. Calatrava and Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled the design, a metallic curved structure of overlapping leaf-like elements in a fire-engine red, on Monday.

In the rendering, it’s a conspicuous, wispy presence that, as Emanuel said at the press conference, adds an "exclamation point" to the outdoor plaza facing the Chicago River of the River Point office building at 444 W. Lake Street. River Point partners Ivanhoé Cambridge, Hines and Levy Family Partners are funding the structure, which they said Monday would cost "in the millions."

The working name on the sculpture, which is expected to take 14 months to complete, is a nondescript "S25." But the hope is that, like other popular public art pieces throughout the city, "Chicagoans will fall in love with the inspired Santiago Calatrava sculpture as they have with Chicago’s Picasso, Kapoor, Chagall, Miro, Plensa, Calder and so many more," said Larry Levy, co-founder of Levy Family Partners.


Calatrava’s many office towers, bridges, transportation hubs and museums are known for their eye-catching, arresting designs that help define cities, such as the Milwaukee Art Museum or the Oculus, the New York transportation hub that rose from the debris of the World Trade Center. His sculptures attempt to mimic that lyrical form in a smaller manner.

At 29 feet in height and width, S25 is merely a whisper of the 2,000-foot tall Chicago Spire he designed for Garret Kelleher, the Irish-born developer whose condominium and hotel project is now nothing but a hole in the ground at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive. Years of litigation ended in 2014 when Kelleher signed the financially failed project over to its biggest creditor, Related Midwest.

Design renderings of what might be built there have popped up with increasing frequency since then. Related Midwest will present a proposal for the site at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, in the ballroom of Streeterville’s Sheraton Grand Hotel, according to 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly’s office - and the real new skyscraper design will finally be unveiled.

Jennifer Waters, Chicago Reporter  CoStar Group   
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