By Judith Nemes | November 20, 2014 | Home & Real Estate
New luxury rental hot spot OneEleven is a miracle story of revival, rebirth, and stunning design.
The designers of the new luxury residential building OneEleven used the base structure of the failed Water Tower project—halted in 2008—turning a major eyesore into a gleaming addition to the skyline.
Uber-urban and radically residential—that’s the feel of the newly opened OneEleven luxury rental building in The Loop at 111 West Wacker along the Chicago River. The 60-story, 504-unit minimalist glass structure stands on the abandoned shell of what was considered an urban eyesore: the planned 92-story, mixed-use Waterview Tower, which was halted in 2008 at the height of the city’s real estate collapse.
Related Midwest took over the site in 2011 and brought in Handel Architects LLP and Kara Mann Design to work some magic into a new interpretation of luxury urban living. The intention was to give the building’s look a mix of glamour and grittiness, alongside soothing glimpses of nature with the Chicago River below and Lake Michigan to the east, explains Kara Mann. “There is a constant push and pull between urban and home, architecture and nature,” she says. “These constant contrasts drove the overarching design and feeling we wanted to create.”
Club OneEleven is a 24-hour lounge featuring an outdoor terrace and spectacular river views.
Surrounded by commercial buildings, the new $180 million project was an opportunity to push the envelope on luxury and amp up residential services, says Nick Anderson, a vice president at Related Midwest who oversaw the OneEleven project, which is the largest residential rental building in The Loop to date. Besides, “This was an important architectural location,” says Anderson of the site, which stretches along the Chicago River on the Wacker Wall. The original structure was stripped down to its concrete shell, which gave Handel Architects the freedom to reinvent the space and build up from where the initial 26 floors left off. “We had an opportunity to take something that was a blight on Chicago and turn it into an icon of what Chicago could be,” asserts Gary Handel, managing partner at New York–based Handel Architects.
One of the biggest design challenges for Handel was transforming some of the existing space, originally intended for a Shangri-La Hotel on a grander scale. He retained the 35-foot ceiling in the lobby, knowing that a dramatic entrance to a residential building would draw design-minded renters. On the interior design front, Mann says the challenge was to make the building feel comfortably residential and urban-chic at the same time. She achieved much of that using sumptuous materials and dramatic lighting throughout the common spaces. Case in point: On entering the lobby, despite the soaring ceiling and striking architectural details, the focal point is a massive circular lilac mohair sofa that softens the space and adds a touch of glamour.
The bilevel south-facing outdoor deck features poolside lounging, cabanas, outdoor kitchens with grills, and a fire pit.
On the 27th and 28th double floor—where the indoor-outdoor amenities area is the split point between the original building below and the new construction above—dark couches dot the room, and small dark tabletops run the length of a floor-to-ceiling wall of windows. The tables are flanked by counter-height stools covered in floral fabric that would not be out of place on a North Shore living room couch. Dramatic modern fixtures sweep down from the ceiling to rein in the scale of the room, and abstract, edgy art by artists like Diana Thater, Tauba Auerbach, and Thrush Holmes is found throughout.
OneEleven opened its doors July 1 and was 60 percent occupied by late September. Sixty different floor plans ensure that Related can offer different living configurations for just about anyone, asserts Anderson, who envisioned this project as anything but cookie-cutter. Monthly rentals of one-bedroom apartments begin at $2,395, and three-bedroom units start at $6,495 (studios are gone).
Among the first to move into the building were William and Meredith Fisher, a couple who sold their 6,000-square-foot Lincoln Park home after two of their three daughters left for college, moving into a three-bedroom unit in July with their youngest child. William, 54, a former CEO of Towers Productions, is launching a new online media company this fall called YuVue from his new home-office space; his wife is an Australia native and a former editor of Magnum Photos in Paris. The couple has lived in Munich, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Miami over the years, so moving to OneEleven is just one more sophisticated stop along the way for this urbane, globe-trotting couple.
“We love the vibe of the people who live in the building,” Fisher says with satisfaction. “And we have the most urban vista in the city.” 111 W. Wacker Dr., 312-850-0111
photography by cesar russ; related midwest (lobby)