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Chicago Spire – the Future Tallest Skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere

Posted by Jae on June 8, 2009

Chicago Spire

Chicago Spire

The Chicago Spire is a proposed supertall skyscraper in Chicago. Construction work began in 2007 but was put on hold in 2008 (due to USA’s mortgage crisis) before any of the above ground structure had been built.  When completed, at 610 m and with 150 floors, it will be among the world’s tallest buildings and freestanding structures (tallest free standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.) The skyscraper is being constructed along Chicago’s lake front west of Navy Pier, located northeast of Chicago’s Loop, in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area.

For the design of the building, the structure is like an imaginary smoke spiral coming from a campfire near the Chicago River lit by Native Americans indigenous to the area.

Standing at 609.6 m (2000 ft), the Chicago Spire will further transform the always-changing Chicago skyline. Plans for the tower include 1,193 condominiums with each of the building’s 150 stories rotating 2.4 degrees from the one below for a total 360 degree rotation. In February 2008, prices for the condominiums were announced as ranging from $750,000 to $40 million USD. Similar to the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center skydecks, the Chicago Spire will house a community room at the top floor offering residents a view of four states. Currently this full-residential skyscraper is scheduled to be completed by 2012 (although it has been placed on hold indefinately which most likely means that it will never be completed.)


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John Hancock Center – “X-Bracing”

Posted by Jae on January 29, 2009

John Hancock Tower

John Hancock Tower

The John Hancock Center in Chicago, USA, is a 1969 completed, 100 floor, 344 m (457 m to the tip of antenna) tall skyscraper designed by structural engineer Fazlur Khan. When completed in 1969, it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. Currently, it is the fourth-tallest skyscraper in Chicago and the six-tallest in the United States. The building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums and contains the 2nd highest residences in the world. This skyscraper was named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, a developer and original tenant of the building. The building is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers.

The 95th floor has long been home to a restaurant, the latest tenant being “The Signature Room on the 95th Floor.” While patrons dine, they can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. The Hancock Observatory compete with the Sears Tower’s Skydeck across town. The Hancock Center 94th floor observation deck displays exhibits about the city of Chicago. Maps explain the view in each direction and a special meshed-in area allows the visitors to feel the winds 314 m above ground level. The 44th-floor sky lobby features America’s highest indoor swimming pool. A band of white lights at the top of the building is visible all over Chicago at night and changes colors for different holidays.

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Aon Center (Chicago) – A Lesson Learned

Posted by Jae on January 28, 2009

Aon Center (Chicago)

Aon Center (Chicago)

The Aon Center is a 1973 completed, 120 million 1973 US dollar, 83 floor, 346 m modern skyscraper in Chicago, USA. With 83 floors and a height of 346 m, it is the third tallest building in Chicago, surpassed in height by the Sears Tower and the Trump Tower.

When it was completed in 1973 it was the tallest building in Chicago and the fourth-tallest in the world. The building employs a tubular steel-framed structural system with V-shaped perimeter columns to resist earthquakes, reduce sway, minimize column bending, and maximize column-free space. This construction method was also used for the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

When completed, it was the world’s tallest marble-clad building, being sheathed entirely with 43,000 slabs of Italian Carrara marble. The marble used was thinner than previously attempted in cladding a building, this quickly proved to be a mistake. In 1974, just a year after completion, one of the marble slabs detached from the façade and penetrated the roof of the nearby Prudential Center Annex. To alleviate the problem, stainless steel straps were added to hold the marble in place. Later, from 1990 to 1992, the entire building was refaced with Mount Airy white granite at an estimated cost of over $80 million.

In recent years, the top floors of the building have been lit at night with colors to reflect a particular season or holiday. Orange is used for Thanksgiving, green or red for Christmas, and pink during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The lighting commonly matches the nighttime lighting on the antenna of the Sears Tower, John Hancock Center, and the upper floors of the Merchandise Mart.

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Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago) – Tallest Trump Skyscraper

Posted by Jae on January 13, 2009

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

The Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago), also known as Trump Tower Chicago and locally as the Trump Tower, is a 2008 completed, 92 floor, 415 m skyscraper in downtown Chicago, USA.   Trump announced in 2001 that the skyscraper would become the tallest building in the world, but after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the building plans were scaled back, and its design has undergone several revisions. Currently, it is the second-tallest building in the United States after Chicago’s Sears Tower. The design of the building includes, in order from the ground up: retail space, a parking garage, a hotel, and condominiums. The 339-room hotel opened for business with limited accommodations and services on January 30, 2008. April 28, 2008 marked the grand opening with full accommodations and services. The building breaks the record for the world’s highest residence, which has been held since 1969 by the nearby John Hancock Center. (Because the Trump Tower has both hotel condominiums and residential condominiums, it will not contest the record held by the 80-story Q1 Tower in Gold Coast, Australia as the tallest all-residential building.)

The building contains 486 luxury residential condominiums. These include studios, one- to four-bedroom units, and five-bedroom penthouse “ballerific” units. The tower also features a luxury hotel condominium with 339 guest rooms. The 3rd through 12th floors houses lobbies, retail space, and the parking garage; the 14th floor and its mezzanine host a health club and spa; the 17th floor through the 27th floor mezzanine contain hotel condominiums and executive lounges; the 29th through 85th floors  has residential condominiums; and the 86th through 89th floors has penthouses. Plans call for a 4,900 m2 riverfront park and river walk along a 150 m space in the area surrounded by the hotel to the west, the Chicago River to the south, Rush Street and the Wrigley Building to the east, and River Plaza to the north.

The building is across the Chicago River from the Chicago Loop, the city’s business district. It is a block away from the southern end of the Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenue. The restaurant on the 16th floor has a clear view of the Chicago River’s entrance to Lake Michigan and of the four buildings completed in the 1920s that flank the Michigan Avenue Bridge (Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, 333 North Michigan, and 360 North Michigan). The building’s location in the River North Gallery District places it in the neighborhood with the most art galleries in the United States outside of Manhattan.

This is my favorite skyscraper in Chicago!

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Sears Tower – Icon of the Birthplace of the Skyscraper

Posted by Jae on January 6, 2009


Sears Tower

Let’s start my first post about a skyscraper with the most prominent building of the city that started it all… the 6th tallest in the world, office-use, 1973 completed, 150 million dollar (equivalent to about 1 billion current US dollars), 108 floor, 442 m Sears Tower in Chicago, USA.  The Sears Tower remains the tallest skyscraper in Chicago, in the Western Hemisphere, and retains the world record as the tallest skyscraper to the top of the antenna at 527 m.  Although it is 26 m shorter than Toronto’s CN Tower (only an observation tower not a fully habitable building thus not a skyscraper), the Sears Tower is the only other freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere to exceed 500 m in height. The observation deck of the Sears Tower is at a height of 412 m (highest public observation deck in the USA.)  As of January 2009, the Sears Tower is the fourth tallest freestanding structure in the world (by pinnacle height), after the Burj Dubai (under construction), the CN Tower (not a skyscraper) and the Ostankino Tower (not a skyscraper.)  The building’s official address is 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606.

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