The recent history of Chicago's West Loop / Fulton Market neighborhood is similar in many ways to New York City's Meatpacking District. As the area has developed over the past two decades, the former meatpacking and market district has gradually transformed from a smelly place where food is stored and distributed to a neighborhood of high-end restaurants, art galleries and fancy apartments. In a development that will continue that shift, a large cold storage warehouse located just a block away from the CTA's sparkling new Morgan Station is set to be transformed into a glassy office building.
The former cold storage building is one of the larger buildings in the West Loop / Fulton Market, and it’s a fixture of the neighborhood skyline. Judging from the renderings, the adaptive-reuse plan will seek to preserve some of its character.
The most striking aspect of the new building, which is being developed by Chicago-based developer Sterling Bay Cos., is the glass. Huge amounts of brick will be removed from the now-windowless behemoth to produce a nearly transparent new office building. In addition to offices, the developer plans to add space for restaurants and a rooftop deck to the former cold-storage building. Next door, Sterling Bay plans to add another 180,000-square-foot office building that will be topped with a green roof.
Over the winter, Preservation Green Lab released a report that quantifies the value in terms of carbon emissions of reusing old buildings instead of tearing them down and replacing them with new, energy-efficient buildings. The report found that warehouse-to-office conversions are actually at the lower end of the spectrum—it takes just 12 years for a new building that is 30 percent more efficient to overcome the negative climate change impacts caused during the construction process. However, the value of adaptive-reuse often extends beyond carbon emissions; it also prevents useful materials from being sent to the landfill, and there are of course aesthetic considerations as well.
via Curbed Chicago