Construction update: 550 St Clair gets its glass

550 St Clair 550 St Clair

Since July, we’ve been waiting impatiently to see what 550 St Clair will look like sheathed in glass. At last, we’re in luck – almost all of the windows were in place earlier this week when we stopped by the Streeterville tower, designed by Brininstool + Lynch. It’s a good example of the firm’s signature look – minimal, almost weightless. Eventually, the glass will extend a little way past the roofline, adding to the effect of glass floating on top of the building’s concrete skeleton.

The glassy, transparent tower is one of Streeterville’s more modern buildings, and it makes for an interesting contrast with the vintage brick structures immediately to the north and south. But we’re less sold on the garage base, which looks a little imposing from street level.

That raises the ubiquitous parking question – especially in Streeterville, where parking is in short supply, how do you design buildings that aren’t dominated by their garages? There may be a good reason that Brininstool and Sutherland Pearsall Development Corp decided to mask the parking inside a concrete block. But garages and glass can mix beautifully – at least the Germans seem to think so, according to an article last year in Architecture Week.

Speaking of Germans, one wonders what 550 St Clair would look like if the glass extended to the ground level, like Helmut Jahn’s 600 North Fairbanks, another modern Streeterville tower (Jahn is no stranger to glass parking structures – check out his FKB Parkhaus 2 & 3, for Cologne / Bonn airport in Germany).

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