The end of the wire for the Chicago Spire?

October 12, 2010


Santiago Calatrava, 2006 (photo by Lee Bey)

The final chapter of the proposed Chicago Spire, that spectacular hard-luck beauty designed by Santiago Calatrava, might very well have been written this week with news that a bank has begun $77 million foreclosure proceedings on the unfinished site.

For now, the 2000 ft tower is just a crater near the Chicago River and the lake...and this promotional video at former developer Shelbourne Development's site. The hole in the ground is the city's most visible symbol of the global economic meltdown that helped wreck the project and plenty others.

So what's lost here? For one thing, a chance for Chicago to add another world-class building to its fold, not to mention the improved park space and lake access (the photo I took above shows Calatrava fiddling with a proposed bridge and parkland that would have complimented the site.) But also a chance for Calatrava, an architect and engineer who specializes in finding beauty in the exposed structure of his bridges and buildings, to do his thing in the city that pioneered structural expressively bridges and buildings.

Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin reports Christopher Carley, the first developer of the site, hopes Calatrava could return to the site under future new owners. There's something worth hoping for.