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Best Projects of 2002 – Project of the Year - Commercial

Sofitel Chicago Water Tower

Development Team
OWNER: Accor Groupe, Paris
CONSTRUCTION CONSULTANT AND OWNER'S
REPRESENTATIVE
: Constructa, Paris; Miami Beach, Fla.; and New York
CONSTRUCTION MANAGER: AMEC Construction
Management Inc., Chicago
ARCHITECT: Viguier/Teng Joint Venture, Paris and Chicago
INTERIOR DESIGNER OF RECORD: Perkins & Will, Chicago
ELECTRICAL: Malko Electric Co., Morton Grove, Ill.
PLUMBING AND FIRE PROTECTION: Great Lakes Plumbing and Heating, Chicago
HVAC PIPING: Advance Mechanical, Mount Prospect, Ill.
ELEVATORS: Otis Elevator Co., Lombard, Ill.
INTERIOR STONE AND CERAMIC/QUARRY TILE: Bourbon Tile and Marble Inc., Buffalo Grove, Ill.
ARCHITECTURAL WOOD (PUBLIC AREAS): Parenti & Raffaelli Ltd., Mount Prospect, Ill.
EXTERIOR WALL SYSTEM: HKL Cladding Systems Inc., West Saint Paul, Minn.
GUESTROOM SHOWER DOORS: Bartlett Shower Door Co., Chicago
CARPET INSTALLATION: Mr. David's Carpet Service Ltd., Carol Stream, Ill.
CONCRETE: Tribco Construction Services, Chicago
ARCHITECTURAL METALS AND ENTRANCE CANOPIES: MTH Industries, Chicago

The Sofitel Chicago Water Tower is a 33-story luxury hotel on a tight corner in the city's Gold Coast district. It features 415 guestrooms above a four-story base. Excavating Chicago's soft mud was a challenge because sidewalls can move up to 8 in.

Roselle, Ill.-based Case Foundation Co., the foundation contractor, built a retention system of braced beams plus inclined struts, thereby limiting sidewall movement to less than 1 in.

Creating a base building that offered open spaces for a ballroom and lobby while supporting the weight of a concrete tower also proved challenging.

Chicago-based Tribco, the concrete contractor, created an elaborate support grid on the sixth floor, including massive 7-ft.-wide by 7-ft.-deep girders to transfer loads.
Precautions against possible settlement due to the tower's weight threatened the schedule as engineers tried to block base-building progress until the tower reached the 26th floor.

Designers and contractors delinked the base and tower with a 4-ft.-wide pour strip cast into a floor slab. Any tower settlement cracks were drawn to the strip.
The project involved the unique application of materials.

French designers joined two public areas in the building's base by installing solid glass stair treads. There was no margin for error.

West Saint Paul, Minn.-based HKL Cladding Systems, the curtain wall contractor, faced an exceptional challenge on the south face: No two glass panels were the same size. Chicago-based architect Teng & Associates provided 3-D coordinate points to size each panel.

Site Challenges

Site challenges were exceptional, as the project was on a small lot flanked by a parking garage, supermarket and the traffic these attract. Each of the 30 or more ready-mix trucks per day was under pressure to delivery loads and leave. When construction reached the 10th floor, deliveries of windows and drywall congested the site still more.

Tribco saved space by using the tower crane and bucket, instead of a pump, to place the concrete. Also, a drive-through was set up in which ready-mixed trucks drove in, unloaded and departed.

Installing temporary power was a potential site clogger.
Instead of locating it adjacent to the building base, which would have interfered with deliveries, electrical equipment was located in a small pedestrian alley on the north side of the site.

The jury said, "The team really broke the mold of conventionality on this one. No two glass panels are the same size, which is a testimony to the fact that the people building this project really wanted to skate outside the lines. This project took a lot of coordination, which was a huge construction challenge."

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