Panoramic views aplenty at Chicago's upcoming crystal-inspired tower

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The Vista Tower will be located in the Lakeshore East neighborhood of Chicago(Credit: Magellan Development Group)

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Chicago's recently announced Vista Tower will be notable for a number of reasons, not least for being claimed the third tallest building in the city and having the highest concentration of 360-degree-view full-floor penthouses in the US. Most unique, though, will be its undulating form inspired by crystals.

Designed by Chicago-based Studio Gang architects, responsible for the recently opened Writers Theater and the planned Lucas Museum, the Vista Tower comes in at a cool US$950 million. Developed by the Wanda Group and Magellan Development Group, it will be part hotel and part residential.

The tower will have 95 floors and rise to a height of nearly 1,200 ft (366 m), as well as a staggered design with four vertical volumes at the base, three continuing up to form the next section, then two and finally only one rising all the way to the top. The top of each volume marks a split between building sections and their use.

Most striking about the building, is that the sides of its three tallest volumes oscillate gently as they rise. This unusual appearance is achieved by basing the building's structure on a repeating pattern of adjacent "frustums." A frustum is the shape remaining when the top of a cone or pyramid is cut off and it occurs naturally in some crystal formations, such as in fluorite and sapphire.

In the case of the Vista Tower, trapezoidal frustums are stacked head-to-head and base-to-base, as well as side-by-side in alternating orientations. This gives the building its wave-like form, which is then accentuated by using a graduated range of blue colors in which the building's exterior is finished.

The Vista Tower will house 406 luxury residential units in total, with prices starting at US$1 million each. In addition to a variety of 1-4 bedroom apartments, there will be more than 20 penthouses. Its Sky 360 Residence single-story penthouses are priced between $8.1 million and $10.8 million, while a $17.1 million two-floor penthouse spans levels 92-93 and covers an area of nearly 7,000 sq ft (650 sq m).

All of the penthouses boast floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of their panoramic views. With the building located in the Lakeshore East neighborhood of Chicago, these include Lake Michigan, the Magnificent Mile and Millennium Park. In keeping with the tower's naturally-inspired exterior, all residential units will be offered in topaz, fluorite, amethyst and sapphire palettes.

Residents alone will have access to Club Vista, which boasts a private dining room, a demonstration kitchen, wine storage facilities and a tasting room, a games room, city and sky lounges, a theater, massage rooms, a steam room and sauna, fitness room, private training space and an outdoor terrace with a fire pit, a hot tub and and a pool. In addition, they will be able to use the 5-star facilities of the building's Wanda Vista Hotel.

The Vista Tower is expected to be completed in 2020. The video below, courtesy of Pollitt & Partners, provides an overview of the Vista Tower and an insight into the design process.

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