NEMA Chicago

In Chicago’s urban plan, this residential tower’s structural system evokes that of the iconic Willis Tower to bookend the city skyline on the southwestern edge of Grant Park.

Chicago, a city with an iconic urban plan by Daniel Burnham, is bolstered by its assortment of modernist towers remarkable for their height, structural legibility, aesthetics, and public engagement. Rafael Viñoly Architects’ NEMA Chicago will enter into the city’s enviable architectural canon.

Bookending NEMA Chicago with the Aon Center, the 76-story residential tower with 1,115 square meters (12,000 square feet) of retail space at its base will enhance the grandeur of the park as the heart of Chicago’s Burnham plan. The building’s massing, made up of square structural bays of varying stacked heights, evokes its city’s famous Willis Tower, once the world’s tallest.

NEMA Chicago rises from the corner of Indiana Avenue and Roosevelt Road and creates a tall southern edge to Grant Park, balancing the mix of heights on the downtown Chicago Loop skyline. The tower is set on a 16-story-tall base topped by a 1,360-square-meter (14,670-square-foot) landscaped pool deck for residents. The base also contains a parking garage, resident fitness amenities, and retail.

Rafael Viñoly Architects worked with Chicago’s Plan Commission to amend the local master plan and respect the Lake Michigan waterfront. After the initial presentation to the Commission, Rafael Viñoly Architects amended the original tube-like tower design to create a more seamless relationship with the existing city skyline. Rather than being defined by a visual style, Rafael Vinoly Architects’ buildings are distinct for their logical and careful assembly of building parts that result in innovative architectural solutions. The visual result of this approach is often a direct, spare and rational appearance that resonates with the best of the Chicago school of architecture. The final step-like design for NEMA Chicago is contextually appropriate and allows for a greater diversity in condominium sizes and layouts.

The 122,760-square-meter (1,321,415-square-foot) tower will create 800 rental units and is designed to LEED Silver.