Novak Construction – Lake and Aberdeen

Novak Construction picLake and Aberdeen rises in a fast-growing area of Chicago.

By Chris Kelsch

Chicago’s Fulton Market has become a very trendy place in recent years. Along its West Randolph Street corridor are a significant number of trendy restaurants, as well as high-end boutique hotels. Adding to that mix, an increasing number of corporations have built facilities in the West Loop, including Google and now McDonald’s, which broke ground on its new global headquarters in 2016 and is set to move in spring 2018.

As the area expands, there is growing need for retail shops, more office space and of course housing, as more people choose to live close to Chicago’s Loop. With Lake and Aberdeen, Novak Construction hopes to meet demand for all of those segments.

The company is serving as the general contractor for the 12-story, 200,000-square-foot building. Bob Burris has been with Novak since 2006, and is serving as project manager on the building. “With Google and now McDonald’s close by, we’re seeing a lot of opportunity for both office space and residential space,” Burris says. “With this building, there will be significant office space with a separate lobby entrance.”

Local Architecture

The brick and glass structure will feature 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail, topped by 40,000 square feet of class A office space and 75 dwelling units, eight of them affordable rate. Green roofs will be included on levels 4, 6, and 11.  In addition to an extensive green roof, a penthouse amenity level will include a sundeck and a private dog run. “The 11th floor is really an amenities floor for both the residents and the office tenants,” Burris notes. “It will feature an outdoor terrace with grills, seating, outdoor televisions and an outdoor fireplace.”

In addition to retail, office and living spaces, the building will feature two levels of on-site parking, which is generous considering it is two blocks from the Morgan Street elevated train or “L” stop in a walkable neighborhood. Seventy-five stalls will be reserved for residents, as well as another 65 for office workers and retail patrons. Novak Construction

In terms of aesthetics, the parking structure will be well hidden by large warehouse windows, which will match the office space at the building’s base. According to Burris, the building’s warehouse brick veneer is designed to blend with its surroundings. “The architect wanted to keep true to West Loop architecture,” Burris notes, referring to the many renovated warehouses in the area. “So we gave it a warehouse window look at the base of it.”

Burris says the building is set to be completed in fourth-quarter 2017. And even though the winter of 2017 was fairly mild by Chicago standards, the project has not been without its challenges. For one, the structure is being built mere yards from the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Green Line “L” tracks, which means strict attention must be paid to details like the right of way over CTA tracks. “The CTA has been very good to work with,” Burris notes. “During the pre-construction logistics phase we did relocate our tower crane, however, as it did interfere with right-of-way over CTA tracks.”

Even more difficult was the fact that the structure sits no more than two feet away from a neighboring building, making it to extremely difficult to pour concrete for forming systems. Burris says that challenge was met without too much difficulty using a PERI formwork system where forms only needed to be set from one side of the wall.

Chicago Roots

The fact the building is going up with relatively little difficulty speaks to Novak’s considerable experience building throughout Chicago and the Midwest. Founded in 1980 by John Novak, the company has served many sectors but has really thrived building retail centers, especially in Chicago. In 2011, Novak was named general contractor of the year by Minneapolis-based Target for completing 17 remodels in the Chicago market.

Novak’s other retail clients include Costco and Whole Foods. The company has also built several Portillo’s restaurants as the chain has expanded throughout Illinois.

Burris credits Novak’s solid relationships for its ability to thrive even in downturns, such as the recession of 2007 to 2010. “Having those good client relationships certainly helped us during the downturn,” Burris recalls. “We have always been able to help out those clients when they needed it, and the repeat business has certainly helped us stay viable.”

For Burris and Novak, its success in the Chicago area also means giving back to the community. The company is active with By The Hand, a Chicago-based after-school program. Novak has built two facilities for the group: one was a 26,000 -square-foot facility for after-school programs in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, while a separate 52,000-square-foot building in the same area serves as a school and after-school facility.

With strong roots in the Chicago community and a strong reputation throughout the Midwest, Novak continues to build in a variety of sectors. As Lake and Aberdeen heads for completion in late 2017, Burris reflects on one other challenge in building mid-rise buildings as opposed to high-rises. “By the time you get your momentum established on mid-rises,” he notes, “you’re done.”

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