Chicago architect Jim Goettsch among city’s busiest
“I take the attitude, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” O’Donnell says of Goettsch’s proven approach. “I know how he thinks and how it’s going.”
Working for cost-conscious developers, Goettsch has a knack for enhancing the appearance of cheaper materials with fins and cuffs, says architecture critic Edward Keegan. “You don’t need a starch specialist. He does what they do, and he just makes good buildings out of them. And I can tell you as an architect, it’s tough.”
Goettsch grew up in Davenport, Iowa, the son of a shoe store manager and housewife, and funded an architecture degree from Iowa State University with summer construction jobs. Interested in home design by eighth grade, he turned to more diverse opportunities on the business side and to Chicago “as the cradle of modern architecture.”
CONTENT BEHIND THE SCENES
After working in New York, he joined CF Murphy Associates, the politically connected designer of O’Hare International Airport, McCormick Place and the Richard J. Daley Center. He relished his technical expertise and in-house design competitions and was content to stay away from the spotlight. “It was good for me to have Helmut up front,” he says, “but I have gained some trust and connections with clients.”
He was managing the New York office of the renowned Murphy / Jahn company in the mid-1980s when the company, among others, was hired and fired by the Trump Organization on a West Side residential project. “The last two payments didn’t arrive,” Goettsch says, “but we did well”.
Goettsch then teamed up with architects Jim DeStefano and Dirk Lohan at different firms and found work during the real estate recession of the early 1990s with a bold proposal for insurer Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois. Its two-phase approach began with a 33-story building at the north end of Grant Park, anchored by a foundation that supported the expansion a decade later to 57 stories, saving 25% of the cost of two buildings, says -he.
The glass and stainless steel design rotated from postmodern stone-clad fortresses like the AT&T Building, the NBC Tower, and 190 S. LaSalle. Buck was intrigued, Goettsch says, and hired him for the 50-story UBS tower on Wacker.
A follow-up mission from Buck came to 111 S. Wacker, which audit firm Deloitte occupied after a post 9/11 overhaul that reassured potential tenants in the shadow of the Sears Tower. The building’s perimeter tower columns cross the parking lot floors to provide 80-foot spans at the base and make you feel like you’re in a plaza, Goettsch says.
Lobbies like this define Goettsch’s work. “How it meets the ground is much more important than how it meets the sky,” he says of anything up to 60 stories. With 155 N. Wacker, another Buck-developed project in mind, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin nevertheless suggested that Goettsch’s work may be “street-level cold.”
No public atrium in the city is larger than the endangered Thompson Center, which Goettsch concedes is plagued by mundane tenants and the building’s mechanical and color flaws. For the Patrick G. & Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, completed in 2015 on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University, he gave his 400-seat recital hall a view of the lake with a wall of double skin glass 42 feet by 40 feet. .
“You listen to beautiful music, and on a clear day you look at the skyscrapers of Chicago or on a dark night the lights of buildings,” says Gordon Segal, university administrator and chairman of the board of educational properties. . Committee.
Goettsch Partners, reconstituted in 2005 as the successor to Lohan Caprile Goettsch, occupies the top floor of the Burnham Fine Arts Railway Exchange Building at 224 S. Michigan Ave., where Goettsch began working for CF Murphy five years ago. decades. Grant Park stretches beyond its giant portholes.
CONSTRUCTION IN CHINA
The company has a record 105 employees, including 18 in China, where James Zheng, appointed co-CEO last year, spends much of his time. He designed a 1,322-foot-tall tower with a hotel under construction in Nanning and a mixed-use complex underway in Shenzhen. “Even if you think it’s going to slow down,” Goettsch says of the Chinese economy, “just keep going until the music stops.”
(Goettsch was in Shenzhen this month to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat.)
The Bank of America Tower that rises on Wacker is supported by the riverside by 60-foot steel-beam tridents which, along with a stepped core, allow the project to fine-tune the city’s requirements for river walks and to meet the demand of corporate tenants for lease terms of 45 feet, all on a difficult trapezoidal site. “He doesn’t design a building and let others figure out how to get it built,” says Peter Doyle, development manager for Texas-based Howard Hughes, the lead developer of the project in partnership with Riverside.
The 150N. Riverside tuning fork design also allows the building to extend above the promenade, improving the view for tenants and capping nine tracks with a plaza. “It really turned a crappy site into something spectacular,” says David Trolian, who heads the North Central region for contractor Clark Construction Group.
Developer Jim Letchinger says the result led him to hire Goettsch for the 78-story residential tower part of One Chicago Square in the Holy Name parking lot. These plans are complete and the architect’s attention has turned further west, for client Riverside, to the 30-acre site that Tribune Media is selling at 700 W. Chicago Ave.
For Goettsch, the music doesn’t stop.