SOM sets fresh working routes with 800 Fulton Market, “Chicago’s Smartest Building”

Defined by X-braced, brick and glass façades, the mixed-use office tower with stepped terraces, and light-filled interiors uses technology to promote wellness and sustainability.

by STIRworldPublished on : Apr 26, 2022

Prestigious American architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has completed 800 Fulton Market, in one of Chicago's most dynamic, busy and growing neighbourhoods, and taking its name from the Fulton Market District in North America. The mixed use office tower reaches a height of roughly 100m, and is fitted with "pandemic-responsive design features", such as seven landscaped terraces that permit indoor as well as outdoor workspaces, touchless elevators, as well as real time assistive, smart building and monitoring systems.

The 19 story, mixed use office tower by SOM embodies a structurally expressive architecture | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
The 19 story, mixed use office tower by SOM embodies a structurally expressive architecture Image: Dave Burk

External X-braced steel frames help distinguish the building, as a "continuation of SOM's history of creating structurally expressive architecture,” the firm relays. These are engineered to withstand Chicago’s harsh winters and strong winds, designed to contract in cooler weather and expand during warmer temperatures. "The central node of each brace moves closer to facades as the braces cool and contract and further from the facade as the braces heat up and expand. Throughout the expected range of approximately nine inches of thermal movements, the braces are effective at resisting wind loads,” shares the design team.

The 800 Fulton Market building is made distinct by X-braced steel frames on its main façade | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
The 800 Fulton Market building is made distinct by X-braced steel frames on its main façade Image: Dave Burk

In tandem with the offset core made of glass suspended along the north side of the building, this unique structural system makes possible considerable, open floor plates and flexible, generous and light-filled workspaces.

A three-story podium that matches the existing scale of the Fulton Market becomes a preamble for the building that rises with stepped terraces. The varied and powerful façade enlivens the street, in tandem with achieving a slender profile from the east and west sides, while the office entrance is marked along the west elevation of the said podium.

The mixed-use tower features stepped terraces | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
The mixed-use tower features stepped terraces Image: Dave Burk

The mixed-use architecture is realised across 19-storeys with strict facades of brick, glass, and exposed, structural steel bracing, where direct motivation from the neighbourhood’s industrial character is apparent. The series of stepped terraces pay homage and draw inspiration from "the rhythm and scale" of the neighbourhood's historic low-rise streetscapes, along with the high-density high rises in the commercial district of downtown Chicago. Generous outdoor spaces with strategic landscaping of native plants and trees offer users pleasant access to the outdoors.

The three-story podium mirrors the existing scale of the Fulton market buildings | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
The three-story podium mirrors the existing scale of the Fulton market buildings Image: Dave Burk

"We set out to design a building that would feel like it had always been part of Fulton Market’s historic, industrial character, but also recognised the pressures and concerns of the new vibrant neighbourhood. This sensitivity informed everything from our material choices to the gracefully stepped form, in conversation with both its immediate context as well as Chicago’s famous skyline,” shares Brian Lee, Consulting Design Partner, SOM.

800 Fulton Market as seen from the street | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
800 Fulton Market as seen from the street Image: Dave Burk

800 Fulton Market also employs a plethora of smart building systems, designed specifically to promote wellness, sustainability, and energy efficiency for the building and its users. The featured technology is able to monitor spaces and circulate fresh air throughout the rectilinear tower. The project also includes for tenants, electronic charging stations and scooters, a centralised mobile app to house access control, as well as offering employees the ability to reserve amenities.

A materiality of brick, glass and exposed, structural steel bracing can be witnessed for the tower’s exterior | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
A materiality of brick, glass, and exposed, structural steel bracing can be witnessed for the tower’s exterior Image: Dave Burk

"To best support tenants and maintain the building, Thor engaged Buildings IOT to deliver cloud-based machine learning insights to the property team for resolution and observation. Through extensive analysis of the building’s life cycle and sustainable design program, the design team reduced its enclosure and structure's embodied carbon by 65 per cent when compared to an industry average commercial office, meeting the 2030 target reduction set by AIA,” elaborates SOM.

Inside 800 Fulton Market | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
Inside 800 Fulton Market Image: Dave Burk

An animated melange of retail, community and conference spaces, a fitness centre as well as a lounge activate the structure throughout the day. Visitors are privy to panoramic views of Chicago from the rooftop bar and terraces on the 18th and 19th floors, while six site-specific murals decorate the space throughout, done by Chicago-based artists.

Rooftop bars and terraces on the 18th and 19th floors provide views to the city | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
Rooftop bars and terraces on the 18th and 19th floors provide views to the city Image: Dave Burk

A triple height main lobby takes residence inside the tower's architecture, defined by an eye-catching cantilevered staircase and mezzanine that create layered, dynamic pockets of activity. This, along with the external terraces become informal work areas for the tenants. The material palette for the interiors utilises exposed concrete, wood and red brick that follows the tower's lively exterior. The lobby has been designed with flexible seating and informal spaces for working and collaborating, to become a stage of exchange and blending seamlessly into the busy streetscape outside.

The triple height main lobby features a cantilevered staircase and mezzanine that creates vibrant activity pockets | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
The triple height main lobby features a cantilevered staircase and mezzanine that creates vibrant activity pockets Image: Dave Burk

"The project is certified LEED Platinum, WiredScore Platinum, SmartScore Platinum and targets WELL Building Standard certification, and is home to offices for leading companies such as The Aspen Group and John Deere," the American architects say, outlining sustainability features that the building embodies. “The project was constructed by Lendlease for Thor Equities and QuadReal in collaboration with Omni Ecosystems, dbHMS, Engage Civil, VDA, Schuler Shook, Ava Grey Designs, CDC and Teligan,” they add.

The triple height main lobby and entrance area | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
The triple height main lobby and entrance area Image: Dave Burk

"With its innovative structural design, ample outdoor terraces, and light-filled workspaces, this mixed-use building is a milestone in the transformation of Chicago's formerly industrial Fulton Market District,” SOM restates.

One of the informal workplaces | 800 Fulton Market by SOM | STIRworld
One of the informal workplaces Image: Dave Burk

Project Details

Name: 800 Fulton Market
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Site Area: 3,490.92 sqm
Building Gross Area: 4,0133.92 sqm
Year of completion: 2021
Client: Thor Equities, LLC
Architect: SOM
Collaborators: Ccs Inc., Omni Ecosystems, Dbhms – Chicago, Vda
Sustainability Certifications: LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Platinum, BD+C, Platinum, WELL Gold, BD+C, Gold

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