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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Sterling Bay To Build Tallest Timber-Made Building Since Great Chicago Fire — But It Will Be Flame-Resistant

Timber-made buildings were long considered unsafe after the Great Chicago Fire, but recent advancements have allowed for the creation of a fire-resistant alternative.

A rendering shows Sterling Bay's plans for a mass-timber tower at 2100 N. Southport Ave.
Provided/Hartshorne Plunkard Architects
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LINCOLN PARK — One of the city’s most prominent developers is building what it claims will be the city’s tallest timber-made building since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Sterling Bay announced its plans this week for a nine-story multifamily building at 2100 N. Southport Ave. It will have exposed mass timber details throughout.

When finished, the building will have 130 residential units with private access to on-site luxury amenities and ground-floor retail. Sterling Bay hopes to break ground in early 2023.

“Over 150 years after the Great Chicago Fire, and with the help of incredible technologies, Sterling Bay is reintroducing Chicago to large-scale timber construction, setting a new standard for future-forward development in our city,” Sterling Bay CEO Andy Gloor said in a statement. “Mass timber buildings are safe, sustainable and beautiful.”

Timber was long considered unsafe and unstable as a building material after the Great Chicago Fire, which caused major damage in the city. But recent advancements in adhesives have allowed for people to create mass timber, a fire-resistant laminated timber alternative that will be used in the building, Sterling Bay officials said.

“Mass-timber buildings are the perfect combination of sustainability meets aesthetics,” said Ray Hartshorne, of Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, which designed the building. “Timber is renewable, global and can easily be harvested and sustainably managed to assure regrowth and replenishment.”

Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture has become known for its use of mass timber after completing projects using the material across the United States, including at 1036 W. Fulton Market in Chicago.

The new tower will be designed to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a similar building made of traditional concrete and steel, according to Sterling Bay.

“Chicago’s rich history of architectural innovation is one of our city’s most notable contributions to the global community, and it’s very exciting to know that this groundbreaking new mass-timber development will be constructed right here in Lincoln Park,” Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said.

Sterling Bay is behind megadevelopment Lincoln Yards, a controversial, $6 billion project along the North Branch of the Chicago River, straddling Bucktown and Lincoln Park. That project, which Hopkins long has supported, is being drawn into the territory of longtime critic Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

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