150 N. Riverside has quickly become one of the most recognizable buildings in Chicago. Joachim Schuessler, a principal at Goettsch Partners, served as the senior project manager for the core-supported, 54-story office tower.
Although the majority of Joachim’s work includes offices, hotels and mixed-use buildings abroad, he is taking on the senior project manager role again for another building that could stand out in the Chicago skyline: One Chicago Square. The proposed skyscraper includes two slender residential towers and retail space that would take over a large parking lot across the street from Holy Name Cathedral. Once complete, it could become the city’s sixth tallest skyscraper. Aside from tall buildings, Joachim is also working on the renovation of the Kovler Lion House at Lincoln Park Zoo.
What did you enjoy most about working on 150 N. Riverside?
While the project had a number of unique challenges, the most interesting part was working on an extremely narrow site with so many constraints that required a very special design solution. Also, since I work on a number of projects overseas, it was a bonus to work on such a significant project close to home and watch it come to life.
Why do you think this building has been so well received by Chicagoans?
While the building is distinctive for its narrow base, it also creates an engaging public space. More than 75 percent of the two-acre site is occupied by a public park, a plaza, the Riverwalk and an amphitheater overlooking the Chicago River. Many landmark buildings do not respond to their specific locations, and in many cases, that is a missed opportunity.
How would One Chicago Square stand out from other residential skyscrapers being constructed in the city?
One Chicago Square has a dynamic, distinctive shape and will be very tall, so it will stand out in the skyline. Two towers anchor the development along Chicago Avenue and State Street. The taller tower across the street from Holy Name Cathedral is set back from the street about 55 feet, allowing for a formal urban plaza. The tower is composed of five vertical, rectilinear bars that are separated by solid reveals and take some cues in their massing from the cathedral. Each mass drops off asymmetrically as the residential unit mix changes, allowing the tower overall to become more slender as it rises. The verticality of the masses is reinforced by solid fins that vary in width and create a unique texture on the tower enclosure.
Working with a large, full city-block site, it was also important to create a cohesive, engaging public space that responds to its urban setting and helps to revitalize the community. All vehicular circulation is internalized, and the podium perimeter is activated with different program elements, including a flagship organic grocer, smaller retail stores, urban townhouse residences, and a premier fitness and wellness center.
What is your favorite Chicago building?
The Canal Street Railroad Bridge. It’s not a building in the common sense, but a structure that has always inspired me since I first came to Chicago.
What is Chicago’s biggest built environment challenge?
Traffic and public transportation need to be carefully considered for the city to thrive in the future.
If you could collaborate with any historic Chicago architect, who would it be and why?
WillIam Le Baron Jenney. He designed the first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, the first metal framed 10-story building that, at the time, was revolutionary. It would have been fascinating to see the construction of the first skyscraper in Chicago that set the stage for so many future structures and the city’s evolution in advancing tall buildings.
What project have you enjoyed working on most during your career thus far?
For me, the project that is always the most interesting is the one at hand—the one I am working on right now.
What is one project type you have not worked on yet, but would like to design?
A chapel, a small space—very pure and essential.
If you were not an architect, what would you be?
I am trained as a stonemason. I love the aspect of physically building.
Mies van der Rohe or Frank Lloyd Wright?