Skip to comments.Skyscraper Projects Booming in Chicago
Posted on 06/24/2006 11:17:36 AM PDT by RWR8189
In this city where the skyscraper was born, it is thriving like never before.
Luxury condominium towers and office buildings that climb 600 feet and more are sprouting up all over downtown. Along the Chicago River, the Trump International Hotel and Tower is inching its way up to a planned 92 stories.
Plans are in the works for a nearby 124-story skyscraper, the Fordham Spire, that would knock the Sears Tower from its perch as the tallest building in the United States.
Since 2000, no fewer than 40 buildings at least 50 stories high have been built, are under construction or are being planned. It's a surge in high-rise construction that hasn't been seen here since the 1960s and 1970s when the Sears Tower, John Hancock Center and other buildings helped give the city one of the most distinctive skylines in the world.
And while there is a flurry of high-rise construction elsewhere in the United States, particularly in New York, Miami and Las Vegas, the tallest of the tall are going up in Chicago. Of the three tallest buildings under construction, two are here, according to Emporis, an independent research group that catalogues high rise construction around the world.
"Out my window there are two, three, four, five new high-rises under construction or just completed in the last year and a half, and they've just announced another 80-story building," said Jim Fenters, who has lived on the 51st floor of a 54-story building overlooking Grant Park since 1979. "It's just remarkable what's happened here."
Projects that would be headline news in other cities go all but unnoticed.
"The Waterview Tower, that project is 1,047 feet, taller than the Chrysler Building," Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune's Pulitzer Prize- winning architecture critic, said of one building under construction. "In any other city there would be endless conversations, (but) here a 1,000-foot tower is `Ho-hum, how are the Cubs doing?'"
One factor that has fed the construction frenzy is the attitude at City Hall. Chris Carley, developer of the Fordham Spire, remembers the time several years ago when proposals for high-rises would prompt city officials to ask about knocking off 10 or more floors.
Today, the official attitude is reversed.
"I remember at least two (planning and development) staff members saying `Can't you make it taller? We really would like it taller,'" Chicago architect David Haymes says about discussions with the city for a planned condominium tower.
The change makes sense, says planning commissioner Lori Healey. In exchange for allowing developers to go higher _ where they get eyepopping views that allow them to charge huge price tags _ the city gets buildings that are a lot smaller at their base, allowing more open space and light than in cities crammed with shorter, wider buildings.
That's not to say there aren't concerns, particularly since these projects will cast long shadows.
"The jury's out on whether (the building) will overwhelm landmarks like the Wrigley Building and overwhelm the river," Kamin said. "People are concerned."
Still, more than a century after the world's first skyscraper _ the nine-story Home Insurance Building _ went up in 1885, Chicagoans remain enamored with tall buildings.
"Chicagoans live and breathe high-rises both within the profession and within the city," said David Scott, chairman of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international nonprofit organization based in Chicago.
Another reason for the surge in construction is that cities are becoming increasingly popular places to live among people with a lot of money _ the same population that fled to the suburbs decades ago.
Geography also plays a role. Unlike some other cities, Chicago has huge chunks of land, much of it near Lake Michigan, the Chicago River or parks.
"We offer unobstructed views, basically forever, of the park and the lake," said Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy.
And some residents like Fenders say the view is getting even better. From his window, he can see Millennium Park's band shell designed by architect Frank Gehry, the spot where Renzo Piano's new wing at the Art Institute of Chicago is being built and the planned site of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Fordham Spire.
"These are three of the most famous architects in the world, and their (projects) are right here," he said.
I used to love to sit in my condo on the 35th floor, turn off the lights and watch the summer thunderstorms roll in from the west. Better than watching TV.
This must be the 'go' signal from the AP to the boys down in Miami. The ink was probably still wet when the news of the arrests came in.
I wonder: how many of the 30 recommendations that NIST/NFPA issued, as a result of the 9/11 study, are they following?
(Bourbon cures agrophobia....)
I'm surprised you reached the top and remained mobile. The high speed elevator ride is enough to reduce your legs to unresponsive ectoplasm. I suppose having the darn thing stop and seeing the doors open would be enough to propel you and the prospect of a dose of Kentucky elixir would keep you in motion.
I'm from earthquake country where highrises are (rightly) alien to me....I thought about hitting my knees and crawling when the elevator opened, but the bartender buttressed me enough to get thru the evening without embarrassing myself too much.
Skyscrapers have always fascinated me and I wonder why we do not build more of them because they represent our future.
Eventually, unless some dread disease or nuclear war or some other natural disaster of epic proportions was to strike earth, we are going to have to build up - and not just in major cities.
In fact, if our society was to continue for the next several thousand years with minimal disruption, and we are unable to colonize other planets, we are going to have a very crowded Earthspace.
This will necessitate the building of millions of skyscrapers.
Consider that in 5,000 years, we will have one hundred trillion people living in the United States alone. That's a lot of people. I come up with that number because our medical technology will be such that people will live for hundreds of years on a routine basis (humans living for a thousand years will become commonplace).
Now what I see is an endless parade of skyscrapers from coast to coast that are several hundred stories high on average with some skyscrapers reaching 10,000 feet plus in the metropolitian areas. Out in the rural areas, the skyscrapers will probably top out around 2,000 to 3,000 feet but that is still a lot of skyscraper in terms of our perception today.
These skyscrapers will be connected to each other by tunnels both underground and above ground so that one would be able to travel coast to coast without ever being outdoors.
In fact, the network of subterranean tunnels will be so vast that entire generations of people will live down there having never seen the sun or being above ground level yet they will still have luxuries undreamed of today and they will not think themselves disadvantaged. To them, going above ground and seeing the outdoors (through windows) will be roughly equivalent to how we perceive space travel today. And going outdoors? Why that would be the equivalent of a "space walk" today and many will be afraid to even attempt it.
This is because the outdoors will be perceived as being dangerous. Remember, people are now living for hundreds if not thousands of years and they do not want their skin ruined by direct sunlight and they do not want to expose their "perfect" bodies to any pollution or microbes that might be present out of doors. In effect, we will all become "bubble people" and only reckless adventurers will want to go out of doors and even in those cases, in full "spacesuits".
We will have robots building and maintaining the infrastructure. Vast armies of robots will be constantly adding on to the skyscrapers and underground tunnels with little regard giving to architecture because there will be nobody on the outside to admire it.
In fact, robots will do most everything and most people will have very little in the way of work to do. Combine that with a lifespan of hundreds of years and your biggest societal problem will be boredom.
Indeed, there will be people dedicated their entire lives to arcane trivial research. For example, one person might spend two hundred years watching and studying every single TV show from the 20th Century and doing multiple research papers on it. Another may dedicate his life to studying the Bay City Rollers. He will memorize every note of every song they ever performed and will study every word ever written about them. Remember that computer technology will be such that every single document and all video and audio ever produced will be instantly accessible by all. Even diaries of little girls who lived in the 1970s will be digitalized (if they were available) so that one studying the Bay City Rollers will be able to access every single diary entry about them from every single fan that ever kept such a diary. So in essence, the entire life of the Bay City Rollers will be able to be relived and documented by some bored twerp of the 25th or 26th Century.
We need a purpose in life to make it meaningful.
Yea, as long as you didn't venture south or west you could still live to tell about it. Tee Hee Hee!
I think those types already exist in Japan. ;)