Morris Adjmi Architects emulate Chicago’s L train tracks for facade of The Row Fulton Market

Elevated Design

Morris Adjmi Architects emulate Chicago’s L train tracks for facade of The Row Fulton Market

Penthouse units offer panoramic views of Chicago’s skyline. (Tom Harris)
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Architect: Morris Adjmi Architects
Location: Chicago
Completion Date: 2023

Morris Adjmi Architects’ (MA) The Row Fulton Market is a mixed-use tower containing streetside retail and 300 residential units. The building is located in Chicago’s West Loop, near the landmark-designated Fulton-Randolph Market District, a former warehouse district that has seen immense growth and redevelopment over the past several decades. The area now commands some of the highest real estate prices in the city due to its thriving restaurant and entertainment scene.

The tower is 480 feet tall and contains 300 residential units, 60 of which will be leased below market rate. (Tom Harris)

The Row’s structure consists of reinforced concrete strengthened with post-tensioned slabs. The exterior is clad with extruded aluminum channels used to emulate the structural steel of the nearby L Train tracks. John Paul Pacelli, project architect at MA, told AN, the extruded aluminum was chosen as it “conveys a really crisp and sharp profile.” Another element taken from the L train is the arched gusset plates connecting the beams and columns supporting the elevated tracks.

The Row Fulton Market is a brand-new luxury residential tower in Chicago’s West Loop. (Tom Harris

Like many projects that were under construction during the pandemic, The Row was beset by supply chain issues. In particular, the aluminum cladding arrived out of the order scheduled for each phase of construction. Because of this, the construction team was unable to build the tower from the bottom up, as originally intended. Instead, the aluminum was installed on the middle of the tower first, while the top and bottom were clad afterwards.

Located just outside of the Fulton Randolph Market District, The Row was technically exempt from Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development’s (DPD) design guidelines for new buildings within the historic district. Nonetheless, MA was still subject to the DPD’s design review board due to the project’s zoning designation as a planned development.

The Row Fulton Market emulates the industrial vernacular of the Fulton-Randolph Market District. (Tom Harris)

Pacelli elaborated, “we approach all of our projects as if we are going through a landmarks commission in terms of rigorously researching the site context and history of our building site in order to inform a design that has a sense of place within a neighborhood— especially in such a richly textured one like the West Loop.”

“There were many massing iterations before landing on a point tower, and a lot of dialogue between the ownership/design team and DPD to incorporate their feedback into our design such as incorporating street facing units on the podium to conceal the parking garage,” he added.

The facade of The Row Fulton Market is inspired by Chicago’s elevated L train tracks. (Courtesy Morris Adjmi Architects)

Below the tower sits a street-level podium, which contains the development’s retail frontage as well as concealed parking. Four stories above ground level, the tower sets back from the podium, creating space for a landscaped terrace. Floors two through four, located above the ground floor retail and parking, are occupied by residential units. The podium is clad on all elevations in a neighborhood-appropriate brick, with the exception of the east elevation, which faces Peoria street.

It was originally thought for the building to be entirely clad with alunmium, but the clients elected for “something warmer” at street level, ultimately deciding on high-quality klinker bricks from the German maker Janinhoff. “With an irregular look that seems aged and handmade, and red-purplish hues with accents of black and charcoal, those bricks fit in well with the neighborhood where there are other similar red-brown colored brick buildings,” Pacelli said.

Topping out at 480 feet, the tower offers views of Chicago’s skyline. Penthouse units on the top three floors incorporate outdoor terraces into the floorplan. The residential units are marked by large glazing spans and tall ceilings.

The four story podium at the base of the tower contains retail and residential units as well as a concealed parking garage. (Courtesy Morris Adjmi Architects)

Due to the project’s large window-wall ratio, the architects relied on the efficiency of the high-performance glazing and HVAC system to satisfy the standards of the Green Globe certification. According to Pacelli, the heat loss incurred by the large windows during the winter months is offset by solar-heat gain, while, in the summer, the glazing enables more rapid cooling at night.

Of the 300 residential units, 60 will be cordoned off to accommodate low-income tenants. These below-market-rate units were incorporated to take advantage of the Affordable Illinois incentive package, which was made law in July of 2021. The units are available for individuals who make no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.

MA will present The Row Fulton Market at AN’s Facades+ Chicago conference on October 6. More on the programming for the day-long symposium can be found here and registration for the event here.

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