Press Releases

Related Midwest unveils phase 1 of The 78, anchored by Discovery Partners Institute

World-class innovation and research center will occupy land donated by Related Midwest, part of 2.8 million square feet of office, retail, hospitality, residential and cultural space planned for Phase 1 of 62-acre riverfront neighborhood in downtown Chicago

Related Midwest today unveiled its plans for Phase 1 of The 78, a new riverfront neighborhood master planned with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill that will transform 62 acres that have been vacant for almost 100 years into a vibrant, mixed-use community and extend Chicago’s central business district southward. As part of Phase 1, the University of Illinois System’s Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) has signed a letter of intent to build a new innovation center at The 78 on land donated by Related Midwest. As a one-stop workforce solution to cultivate and retain new economy talent at scale, expand the diversity of Chicago’s tech workforce and boost research and development activity to drive our economy, DPI helps set the stage for The 78’s future as a global technology and innovation hub.

“With this announcement today of Discovery Partners Institute and the Illinois Innovation Network, we are launching a new era for Chicago as an extraordinary focal point for an unparalleled tech workforce and research and development that will attract talent to our state from around the world, strengthening Illinois’ long-term economic vitality for generations to come,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Illinois’ nexus of partnerships, innovation hubs, public and private universities, national laboratories and international research programs is the foundation for a technology ecosystem that will rival any location in the world. And through the Illinois Innovation Network, DPI’s success will radiate across the state to 15 hubs from Chicago to Rockford to Peoria to Edwardsville. We are investing in workforce development, innovation and R&D all across our state.”

“Chicago is thrilled to be taking this important next step with DPI, Governor Pritzker and Related Midwest in developing a state-of-the-art innovation hub that will drive cutting-edge technology advancements and propel growth and opportunity throughout our city and entire region,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “DPI's decision to anchor in Chicago is a vote of confidence in the talent of our people and strength of our diverse, local economy, and we look forward to collaborating with them on our shared goals of developing inclusive, long-term economic growth through an array of investments that will create jobs, start companies and help shape the future of our city for generations to come.”

“Our vision for The 78 is to create Chicago’s next great neighborhood,” said Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest. “With a dynamic Phase 1 plan that includes DPI as its centerpiece, we’re showing how a 21st century neighborhood, created from the ground-up and connected to so many exceptional areas, will bring new opportunities to all of Chicago. DPI’s organizational model will drive long-term innovation across critical growth industries and draw corporate tenants, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists—from across Chicago and around the globe—to The 78, where they will find top talent, groundbreaking research and new technologies that support future expansion.”

DPI, which is part of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) and funded through a combination of private and public funds, plans to begin construction in the next 12 months. Construction is already underway at The 78 on the Wells-Wentworth Connector, the main thoroughfare for the project that will be a modern, pedestrian-friendly streetscape with protected bike lanes linking the Loop to Chinatown. Other Phase 1 infrastructure improvements include: construction of LaSalle and 15th streets through the site, renovation of Clark Street, relocation and enclosure of Metra tracks and reconstruction of the Chicago River seawall.

Phase 1 will be the start of an exciting and dynamic neighborhood, bringing roughly 2.8 million square feet of commercial space to the northern half of the site. This includes the DPI; 1.5 million square feet of office space in both loft-style and high-rise buildings; 700,000 square feet of highly-amenitized residential, which includes a 20% affordable commitment; and 100,000 square feet of fitness, retail, hospitality and restaurant space, all interwoven around what will eventually be 12 acres of publicly accessible green and open space. In Phase 1 alone, 5 acres will be dedicated to the Crescent Park—a green space that will be 7 acres at its completion and follows the Chicago River’s original flow through the site. Crescent Park will offer recreational opportunities and year-round programming for all ages. The 78 will also feature 3 acres of new riverfront inspired by the downtown Chicago Riverwalk, but with a setback that offers three times the space, allowing for a greater variety of uses in all seasons.

Related Midwest is targeting completion of Phase 1 in 2024. Future phases will add another 10 million square feet of commercial and residential space and a new CTA Red Line station at the corner of Clark and 15th streets.

DPI’s state-of-the-art immersion facility at The 78 will attract 2,000 national and international student scholars annually who will work with top minds in academia and business leaders across industries on cutting-edge research and development, inspiring new technologies and businesses. The site for the new DPI is located between outdoor amenities in Crescent Park and the vibrant Wells Street, mere steps from the Chicago River. According to STL Architects, the Chicago-based, minority-owned architecture firm behind an initial conceptual rendering, the site’s unique location is the source of inspiration for the building’s distinct design. The design celebrates the connection between Crescent Park and Wells Street with a large corner opening, which visually and physically extends the activity generated within the park into the building. In the conceptual design, a multi-floor atrium space acts as a public square for students to collaborate in an informal manner while cultivating a campus environment in the heart of Chicago. The social gathering space also gives students access to amenities and unique rooftop spaces (both indoor and outdoor) above Wells Street, providing spectacular views of the river, the Saint Charles Air Line bridge and Chicago sunsets.

DPI’s initial focus will be on applying the Illinois economy’s existing strengths in data analytics and computing to drive innovation in food and agriculture, environment and water, health and wellness, transportation and logistics and finance and insurance. As one of The 78’s anchor tenants, DPI will help shape the neighborhood’s identity as Chicago’s innovation community and be part of a $7 billion mixed-use development that is expected to generate over $40 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years.

“With Governor Pritzker’s leadership and commitment, and the support and encouragement of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, DPI is now poised to become the major hub of innovation, technology development and job creation that we all envision for Chicago, the State of Illinois and the world. This investment by the state adds real fuel to the economic engines of DPI and IIN,” University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen said. “We are grateful for Governor Pritzker’s vision, and his belief in what we are determined to create—an evermore vibrant innovation ecosystem serving all the people of our state. And DPI’s permanent home in The 78 will provide a one-of-a-kind space to live, work and create, providing a real magnet for the kind of talent the city and the state need.”

In addition to providing a home for DPI, global corporations, local businesses and residents, Phase 1 of The 78 will create approximately 9,500 trade, construction and professional services jobs and be home to 9,000 permanent jobs. At the completion of the multi-phase project, The 78 will have generated more than 15,000 trade construction and professional services jobs and be home to 24,000 permanent jobs. Related Midwest will also contribute $25 million into the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund.

Related Midwest has committed to exceeding the City of Chicago’s traditional participation requirements for women- and minority-owned businesses by awarding a minimum of 40% of contract work to minority, women, disadvantaged, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and/or veteran business enterprises. Related Midwest is also a founding partner of HIRE360, an industry-first partnership of developers, general contractors, subcontractors and labor that is focused on educational opportunities as well as workforce development programs, emerging business support and vendor/manufacturing outreach. For more information on The 78, and to learn about our community commitment, visit

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About Related Midwest:
Related Midwest, the Chicago office of Related Companies, is the preeminent developer of mixed-use properties, affordable housing communities, and luxury condominium and rental homes across Chicago. For more than 30 years, Related Midwest has been dedicated to the highest standards of development, design, architecture and engineering, and is also recognized for progressive leadership in five-star property management, environmental sustainability, historic preservation and community hiring.

Related Midwest’s current development pipeline includes The 78, a 62-acre, downtown mixed-use neighborhood development – one of the largest real estate projects ever conceived in Chicago – that includes a half-mile of river frontage between the Loop and Chinatown; a two-tower project at 725 W. Randolph in the West Loop that features luxury apartments, an Equinox gym and Equinox Hotel, office space and retail; a luxury residential building in Fulton Market District at 900 W. Randolph; and 400 Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville, where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan.

The firm’s market-defining projects include ultra-luxury condominium and apartment tower One Bennett Park, Chicago’s first building designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, with adjacent park by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; luxury rental towers 500 N. Lake Shore Drive and OneEleven; and Lathrop, an ongoing restoration and redevelopment of the historic Julia C. Lathrop Homes into a mixed-income community. In total, Related Midwest has developed, acquired and preserved more than 10,000 affordable residences in the Midwest. Over the past 10 years, Related Midwest and its affiliated entities have awarded more than a quarter of a billion dollars to minority- and women-owned businesses and helped 25 small businesses launch by awarding them their first contracts. The firm is a founding partner in HIRE360, a first-of-its-kind community partnership designed to expand professional development and employment opportunities in the trades. To learn more, visit

About the University of Illinois System:
The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with nearly 84,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.

About Discovery Partners Institute/University of Illinois System:
The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) is an interdisciplinary public-private research institute located in Chicago, and is a node of the Illinois Innovation network (IIN), a set of virtually connected clusters across the state. Led by the University of Illinois System with partners across the globe, the DPI and IIN are the foundation for new partnerships and approaches that catalyze economic growth. More than 200 world-class faculty and 2000 students, and companies will work side-by-side at the DPI to develop solutions, promote entrepreneurship and empower inventors of the future.

About SOM and Phil Enquist:
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the largest and most influential architecture, interior design, engineering and urban planning firms in the world. Founded in 1936, SOM has completed more than 10,000 projects in more than 50 countries. The firm is renowned for its iconic buildings and commitment to design excellence, innovation and sustainability. Designer Phil Enquist and his studios have improved the quality and efficiency of city living on five continents by creating location-specific strategic designs that integrate nature and urban density within a framework of future-focused public infrastructure. Enquist’s design perspective encompasses a broad array of innovative, sustainable urban forms that enhance city living with walkable, transit-enabled districts humanized by their natural amenities. Enquist was honored with the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Architectural Guild of the University of Southern California's School of Architecture for his dedication to strengthening the physical, social and intellectual infrastructure of cities. The year prior, the Chicago Tribune named him and his studio "Chicagoans of the Year in Architecture," citing “the city-friendly designs of Phil Enquist.”

About STL Architects:
STL Architects (STL) is an award-winning architecture and urban design firm founded in Chicago in 1996 that is widely recognized by the international architectural press for its design excellence. In collaboration with owners, contractors and consultants, the firm proposes an architecture that is based on research, looking at projects through the creative prism of innovation and inventiveness. Our design team is made of intelligent and creative architects from around the world who promote the exchange of ideas and interdisciplinary teamwork over personal expression, with access to the latest technologies available. STL Architects is certified by the City of Chicago as a Minority Owned Business (MBE).