Developers of under-construction Fulton Market office/retail building adapt structure to post-COVID-19 conditions

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Fulton east rendering

Developers of a 90,000 sq. ft. office and retail building in the Fulton Market district say their project is among the first commercial buildings specifically designed for a post COVID-19 world.

The 12-story (the building permit says it is 13 stories) Fulton East structure at 215 N. Peoria St. under construction by Clayco has been under construction since last summer (Chicago issued a $30.7 building permit in August, 2019) and is scheduled to open at the end of this summer.

Then the world changed in mid-March.

“At the time COVID-19 hit, our team immediately pivoted to research how to best address the concerns that we understood COVID-19 would raise for tenants and their employees,” said. Bob Wislow, chairman and CEO of Parkside Realty, Inc., the project’s developer.

Quoted in Forbes, Winslow said concerns among Fulton East’s future tenants became “seismic” and required the team to “instantaneously” place health and wellness at the forefront of the project, causing the opening date to shift from July to August to implement a new design strategy.

“Every employee and their family is acutely aware of—and deeply concerned about— safety and well-being in the workplace environment,” Wislow was quoted as saying. “As an under-construction, boutique office building, we fortunately had the opportunity to modify Fulton East’s design in response to COVID-19 in real time, allowing us to thoughtfully address employers’ increased concerns for their employees’ office experience and create an environment where hygiene, health, safety, and wellness are holistically considered.”

The developers decided to implement key structural changes, including the world’s first new-construction installation of Canada-based MAD Elevator Inc.’s Toe-To-Go (T2G) elevator system, which utilizes foot-activated call buttons for a hands-free elevator experience, reducing the spread of germs.

“We made a major investment of time and capital to bring Fulton East to market as a next-generation office building that prioritizes health, safety, and wellness for our tenants’ employees in a coordinated and comprehensive way,” Wislow said.

The developers say Fulton East will also be among the first multi-story office buildings to employ airPHX (“air fix”) non-thermal, plasma technology throughout the building to help reduce cross-contaminant risks and provide employees with cleaner air and work surfaces.

This technology is currently used in hospitals and dental clinics.

“MAD Elevator’s hands-free elevator system and air and surface disinfection, as provided by airPHX machines, not only address today’s COVID-19 concerns but also other contagious pathogens to help avoid the spread of colds and flu, keeping building occupants healthier at all times, Winslow said.

The structure’s new design also  features 10,605-sq. ft. floor plates to accommodate safe social distancing and allow for custom space planning.

Other modifications include:

  • Touch-free thermal scanning at the lobby security desk to check people’s temperatures.
  • A touch-free key fob access and security system, pre-wired for future BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) access via a mobile phone.
  • Butterfly, touch-free, after-hours security/building access/intercom/elevator access system.
  • Private, in-building, exclusive parking providing direct, touch-free, secure access to tenant floors.
  • All washrooms constructed with one fixture more than Chicago city code to help enhance social distancing.
  • An 8,000-sq. ft. rooftop garden park available for the exclusive use of building occupants, offering comfortable seating for individual relaxation and small group meetings
  • Building facade of continuous, floor-to-ceiling, Low-E glass and 12-foot floor-to-floor spans to provide the maximum amount of light, air and views to benefit tenants’ health and well-being.
  • Only three columns on each floor, enabling flexibility in office design to easily accommodate social distancing guidelines, including two distinct wet column areas providing the opportunity for two separated cafes and kitchens.

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