WBEZ | Sears Tower http://www.wbez.org/tags/sears-tower Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Blackstone buying Willis Tower http://www.wbez.org/sections/architecture/blackstone-buying-willis-tower-111704 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sears-tower-crop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>NEW YORK &mdash; Blackstone is buying Chicago&#39;s Willis Tower, once called the Sears Tower, from 233 South Wacker LLC.</p><p>While the price has not been announced, <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/blackstone-strikes-deal-for-chicagos-willis-tower-2015-03-15">MarketWatch reported the sale at $1.3 billion</a>.</p><p>The Willis Tower is 110-stories and the second-tallest office building in the U.S. It is the fifth-tallest office building in the world.</p><p>The Willis Tower&#39;s Skydeck, located on the 103rd floor, is a popular tourist attraction. It provides 1.6 million visitors a year with views of Chicago and the surrounding area including from the &quot;Ledge,&quot; glass cubes which extend from the building.</p><p>Jacob Werner, a managing director in Blackstone&#39;s real estate group, said in a statement on Monday that Blackstone sees &quot;great potential in further improving both the building&#39;s retail operations and the tourist experience for one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Chicago.&quot;</p><p>Construction efforts for the tower started in 1970 and it was completed in 1973, according to the tower&#39;s website. The Skydeck officially opened to the public in 1974 and underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2000. The tower was officially renamed the Willis Tower in 2009.</p></p> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 08:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/architecture/blackstone-buying-willis-tower-111704 1 World Trade Center named tallest US building http://www.wbez.org/news/1-world-trade-center-named-tallest-us-building-109130 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP90687742822.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The new World Trade Center tower in New York will replace Chicago&#39;s Willis Tower as the nation&#39;s tallest building when it is completed next year, an international panel of architects announced Tuesday.</p><p>The Height Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat said that because the needle atop the New York skyscraper is a permanent spire and not an antenna it can be counted when measuring the structure&#39;s height.</p><p>But Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel says if something looks and acts like an antenna, &quot;Then, guess what? It&#39;s an antenna.&quot;</p><p>The needle, measuring 408 feet tall, was more than enough to confirm Chicago is the Second City when it comes to tall buildings.</p><p>With the needle, 1 World Trade Center is a symbolically important 1,776 feet tall. Without it, the building would have been only 1,368 feet tall &mdash; well short of the 1,451-foot Willis Tower.</p><p>At stake was more than just the pride of two cities that feast on superlatives and the tourist dollars that might follow: 1 World Trade Center, with its beacon on top will stand as a monument to those killed in the 9/11 attacks, and its architects had sought to capture the echo of America&#39;s founding year in the structure&#39;s height.</p><p>Not only that, but the building&#39;s height without the needle also holds symbolism because at 1,368 feet it is the height of the original World Trade Center.</p><p>Antony Wood, the council&#39;s executive director, said the needle is particularly important as a &quot;structural and symbolic element.&quot;</p><p>Further, he said, the decision to put the spire atop the building was part of a &#39;quest&quot; to build a permanent reminder of what the nation went through.</p><p>&quot;This was not an economic quest for bragging rights to the U.S.&#39;s tallest,&#39; he said. &quot;This was a quest to put something meaningful and symbolic on that site because of the horrible history of what happened on that site.&quot;</p><p>He said the antennae on top of the Willis Tower help to make the committee&#39;s point about permanence, explaining that when the building went up there were no antennae, and that the original antennae have been replaced with taller ones.</p><p>Wood also made another point that, though not a factor on the committee&#39;s decision, is significant: that the Willis Tower will continue to be an attraction for years just like the Empire State Building is decades after it, too, was eclipsed by taller buildings.</p><p>&quot;Are any fewer people going to come to Chicago or even travel and visit the Willis Tower because it no longer holds the title of the U.S. tallest? &quot; he asked. &quot;No,&quot; I don&#39;t think it does.&quot;</p><p>The Height Committee comprises about two dozen industry professionals from all over the world and is widely recognized as the final arbiter of official building heights around the world. They conferred behind closed doors last week in Chicago, where the world&#39;s first skyscraper appeared in 1884.</p><p>The new World Trade Center tower remains under construction and is expected to open next year.</p><p>The designers originally had intended to enclose the mast&#39;s communications gear in decorative cladding made of fiberglass and steel. But the developer removed that exterior shell from the design, saying it would be impossible to properly maintain or repair. Without it, the question was whether the mast was now primarily just a broadcast antenna.</p></p> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 10:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/1-world-trade-center-named-tallest-us-building-109130 The tallest rock http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/tallest-rock-106890 <p><p>Forty years ago today&mdash;May 3, 1973. Has it really been that long?</p><p>On Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, the Sears Tower was topped off. Our city now had the tallest building in the world.</p><p>Sears had maintained its main office in North Lawndale for decades.&nbsp;During the late 1960s the company&nbsp;decided to build new headquarters.&nbsp;After looking in the suburbs, they chose a centrally-located site, just west of the Loop</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-03--Sears%20and%20others.JPG" title="A new addition to the skyline" /></div><p>The original plan was to build two&nbsp;separate buildings. That was changed to a single structure, 1,454 feet high.&nbsp;As board chairman Gordon Metcalf explained, &ldquo;Being the largest retailer in the world, we thought we should have the largest headquarters in the world.&rdquo;</p><p>Construction began in 1970.&nbsp;The foundations were dug, and the steel frame began to rise slowly over Wacker Drive.&nbsp;At the 1,369-foot mark the Sears Tower passed the former record holder, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.</p><p>Raw, windy weather nearly postponed the May&nbsp;3rd topping-off festivities. The ceremonial final girder contained the signatures of the 12,000 people who had worked on the project. The construction chief was&nbsp;worried that the 2,500-pound beam might smash&nbsp;into some windows on the way up.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-03--Railyard%20south%20of%20Loop%20%281978%29%20-%20Copy.jpg" title="A view from the south" /></div><p>But by show-time a few hundred people had already gathered at the site. Mayor Daley had come to give his blessings. So had Cardinal Cody. The girder was hoisted and set in place.</p><p>That was the signal.&nbsp;A&nbsp;chorus of electrical workers called The Tower Bums burst into song, serenading the crowd with such lyrics as:</p><p>&ldquo;She towers so high,</p><p>Just scraping the sky.</p><p>She&rsquo;s The Tallest Rock.&rdquo;</p><p>Speeches followed from various dignitaries.&nbsp;Then the mayor brought the proceedings to a close. &ldquo;I want to thank [Sears] for staying in Chicago when so many are leaving,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp; &ldquo;Sears, Roebuck&mdash;a name that means everything to the people of America&mdash;has no equal in the business world of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-03--Five%20Miles.jpg" title="Impressive even at five miles distance" /></div><p>Everyone went home happy.&nbsp;The Sears Tower lifted the spirits of Chicago.&nbsp;Having the World&rsquo;s Tallest Building helped the city get through some tough years.</p><p>Still, records are made to be broken.&nbsp;The Sears Tower kept its title until 1996.&nbsp;Today all the sky-piercing structures are going up in Asia.</p><p>Meanwhile, in 1992, Sears again moved its headquarters, this time to Hoffman Estates.&nbsp;The tall&nbsp;building on Wacker is now known as the Willis Tower.</p></p> Fri, 03 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/tallest-rock-106890 A look back at – or down from? – Chicago’s observation decks http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/look-back-%E2%80%93-or-down-%E2%80%93-chicago%E2%80%99s-observation-decks-103901 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F67700461&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sky%20deck%20flickr.jpg" style="float: left; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="The view down from the Sky Deck at Willis Tower. (Flickr/Ambimb)" />In Saul Bellow&rsquo;s 1987 novel <em>More Die of Heartbreak</em>, protagonist Kenneth Trachtenberg takes his uncle to the observation deck on the 102nd floor of the &ldquo;Electronic Tower,&rdquo; a mammoth skyscraper in an unnamed Midwestern city. Surveying the landscape, the outlook inspires both awe and dread in Bellow&rsquo;s viewers:</p><blockquote><p><em>Any number of disorders can be temporarily forgotten at such a height &mdash; a crime you committed long ago, a fatal error of judgment, even a secret berth of cancer cells &mdash; when you are rapt from yourself with such a view from the 102nd floor. Any amount of human queerness I mean to say, may be checked for a moment, as you face an Egyptian pyramid or a Sistine ceiling.</em></p><p><em>I silently inspected uncle, as he inspected his native city with that cobalt gaze of his. Empty factories, stilled freight yards, upended streets, stretches of river where the water was as still as a fish tank. And then the country side: prairies liberated from the darkness of the city, farmlands under white icing and skies suggesting freedom and eliciting ideas of flight or escape.</em></p><p><em>I wonder if uncle wasn&rsquo;t thinking something like that: What a perfect day to flee.</em></p></blockquote><p>Bellow&rsquo;s Electronic Tower would seem to be a clear riff on Chicago&rsquo;s Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), with its expansive Sky Deck views at 1,353 feet, or perhaps the Hancock Building, with its similarly impressive and frightening tableaus (though Bellow makes no mention of a strange, waxy ice skating rink in miniature, which one can also find near the top of the Hancock).</p><p>The feelings Bellow describes may be similarly familiar to Chicagoans: City dwellers (and tourists) have always sought out the view from up high, for the way it literally changes our perspective, for the sense of the sublime it brings or for the reminder of our own relative smallness.</p><p>Tony Macaluso, an administrator at WFMT who developed a passion for skyscrapers during his seven years as a guide on Chicago&rsquo;s well-known architectural boat tours, is writing the history of this pursuit. In a forthcoming book due out in 2014, he explores Chicago&rsquo;s love for the tippy-top of tall buildings, starting with our observation decks. As it turns out, the Sky Deck has some pretty good antecedents in Chicago history.</p><p>As the pioneer of tall buildings, Chicago was also a pioneer of the miraculous urban vista, featuring some of the first and most posh observation decks in America.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago was at (the) forefront of this tourist trend,&rdquo; Macaluso explained at a recent talk. &ldquo;The same year the Eiffel Tower opened, barely six months later is when the Auditorium Building opened,&rdquo; he said, referring to Adler and Sullivan landmark<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-09/december-9-1889-magnificent-auditorium-94530"> that&rsquo;s now part of Roosevelt University</a>. &ldquo;That became the city&rsquo;s first big observation deck. And the comparisons were actually pretty explicit in the press at the time between Chicago and Paris, the Auditorium Building and the Eiffel Tower, even though the Eiffel Tower was four times taller.&rdquo;</p><p>In the audio above, Macaluso delves into the reactions provoked by the Auditorium Building&rsquo;s observation deck. Anyone who has gazed down from the vantage of Willis Tower&rsquo;s Sky Deck will surely understand the particular mix of awe and fear the Auditorium Building inspired in 19th-century Chicagoans.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Tony Macaluso spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation earlier this month. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/secret-spaces-atop-chicago-cultural-history-urge-climb-above-city-103424">here</a></em>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 17 Nov 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/look-back-%E2%80%93-or-down-%E2%80%93-chicago%E2%80%99s-observation-decks-103901 Willis Tower reconsidered: New photo exhibit examines the city's tallest building http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-10/willis-tower-reconsidered-new-photo-exhibit-examines-citys-tallest-building <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MB%20IntroBoard%2009%2030%2012.jpg" style="float: left; " title="(Courtesy of Mark Ballogg)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Willis Tower, downtown&#39;s 1,450 ft. stack of architecture, engineering, commerce and civic pride, turns 40 next year.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">If you are of a certain age, that milestone might be as jarring as the fact that the Willis &mdash; the world&#39;s tallest building as recently as 1998&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;is soon to be &quot;only&quot; the eighth tallest building on the planet. (It gets worse: In China, Korea and Saudi Arabia, there are 11 buildings under construction that are all taller than Willis.)&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But reflection often comes at 40. The tower and its history and impact are likely to be re-examined and revisited in the years to come. One such look began this month: a free exhibition of 25 large-scale photographs of the tower, made by architectural photographer Mark Ballogg, that is now on display in the lobby of the Willis.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Called <a href="http://www.balloggphoto.com/show.html"><em>Willis Tower: Look Up, Look Down, Look Around</em></a>, the exhibit not only documents the tower and its lobbies, but it shows how the building looms &nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;almost omnipresent &mdash; over the city&#39;s landscape. On the eve of the exhibit&#39;s opening reception Thursday evening at the tower, Ballogg answered a few questions about his work and the building.</div><p class="yiv446440149MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 12pt;"><em>For decades, this was the building that symbolized Chicago. Does the tower still capture our imaginations the way it used to? Why or why not?</em></p><p id="yui_3_7_2_1_1350504164916_102" style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;">By virtue of its height, history and long standing presence in the Chicago skyline, I think that Willis Tower still commands the world&#39;s attention as much today as it did in the past. Shortly after the World Trade Center was brought down, one of the the first buildings in the U.S. considered to be at risk was the Willis Tower. Thousands of worldwide tourists visit the Willis Skydeck for vistas that can&rsquo;t be matched by any other building in Chicago. Obviously the rest of the world sees the Willis Tower as the building that represents Chicago.</p><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;"><em>The tower seems to have various personalities in your work. In many photos, it&#39;s the giant icon. In others, [such as in the photos above and below] it&#39;s in the background&nbsp;</em>&nbsp;&mdash;<em>&nbsp;but very much there.</em></p><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;">As I travel throughout the city and suburbs I am always surprised by the unexpected ways that the Willis Tower pops into view. Some of the images in the show are part of an ongoing personal project in which I shoot cityscapes that always feature the Willis Tower somewhere in the photo. It&rsquo;s the juxtaposition of the Willis Tower as a secondary element within the urban context that fascinates me. This aspect adds to the iconographic importance of the Willis Tower.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><em><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3_9151-6A.jpg" title="(Courtesy of Mark Ballogg)" /></em></div><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;"><em>What&#39;s the hardest thing about making photographs of a building this size? And what kind of equipment did you use?</em></p><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;">I switched from 4x5 film to 35mm digital about <a href="http://www.balloggphoto.com/show.html">http://www.balloggphoto.com/show.html</a>&nbsp;years ago. I shoot primarily with a full frame Canon DSLR and have worked my way through various camera bodies over the years, starting with a EOS-1Ds Mark II and presently with an EOS-1D X. Lenses range from 14mm-200mm fixed and zoom. Equipment is just a tool that allows me to capture the images that best suit my intent. The height of the building has its disadvantages and advantages. It&rsquo;s nearly impossible to shoot from the street level within a block radius but it becomes a dominant structure as the distance from the building increases.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MB1.jpg" title="(Courtesy of Mark Ballogg)" /></div><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;min-height:18.0px;"><em>What do you hope people get out this exhibit? What will they discover?</em></p><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;">Most importantly for all of my exhibitions, I hope that people are enthralled and surprised by my work and always discover something fresh with each viewing. For the work in this exhibition, I hope they get a sense of the Willis Tower&rsquo;s commanding presence in the Chicago skyline and keep an eye out for it to pop into their view as they travel in and around the city.</p><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;"><em>What&#39;s a good story about the tower that you&#39;ve either heard or experiences yourself?</em></p><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;">I recently read that the naming rights to the building expire in 2024 and the building could be renamed again. &quot;Sears Tower,&quot; anyone?<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:&quot;Helvetica&quot;, &quot;sans-serif&quot;;color:black;"> </span></p><p style="margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:12.0pt;margin-left:0in;"><em>The opening reception begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Wacker Drive lobby of the tower.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-10/willis-tower-reconsidered-new-photo-exhibit-examines-citys-tallest-building