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Calatrava's Chicago Spire (Chicago)



Chicago Spire (Chicago)

from the NY Times:

In Chicago, Plans for a High-Rise Raise Interest and Post-9/11 Security Concerns

At about 2,000 feet tall, the Fordham Spire would be the tallest building in the United States when all building elements are counted.

Published: July 26, 2005
CHICAGO, July 25 - In a city known for its skyscrapers, in an era when tall buildings have become targets, can the skyline handle one more that stretches the limit? In Chicago, it seems, the answer may be yes - if the architect is a "starchitect" like Santiago Calatrava.

Compared to Some Other Tall BuildingsMr. Calatrava, a Spaniard who lives in Zurich, has designed what would be the country's tallest building for Chicago. The developer, Christopher T. Carley, plans to announce the $500 million project on Tuesday.

The structure would be called the Fordham Spire and is proposed to be built at North Water Street and Lake Shore Drive, near where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan. It would be 115 stories, topping out at 1,458 feet to its roof. A spire on top would reach about 2,000 feet, making the building the country's tallest.

The Sears Tower, at 1,729 feet, is now the tallest when antennas are included. The Burj Tower in Dubai, under construction, is said to be planned at 2,300 feet, which would make it the world's tallest.

Developers in Chicago have tried in recent years to erect another large skyscraper to add to the Sears Tower, John Hancock Center and Aon Center, 3 of the 15 tallest buildings in the world. A soft commercial real estate market doomed those efforts. But Mr. Carley, a local developer of expensive residential properties, said the Fordham Spire - named after his development firm, the Fordham Company - would be a mixed-use tower with 200 to 250 condominiums atop a 20-story hotel. He said that its unique design, which resembles a drill bit, a blade of grass or a tall, twisting tree, depending on whom you ask, would attract high-end buyers eager to live in a Calatrava structure.

Both developer and architect said they were mindful of security concerns in designing the tower. Mr. Calatrava, in an interview, said he never set out to design the tallest building but instead was drawn to the project by the chance to do something special for the "heroic Chicago skyline."

"Nobody is saying it has to be the highest building in the country," Mr. Calatrava said Monday from Zurich. "The idea was to build a very slender, elegant building in this skyline."

Mr. Calatrava, an engineer by training who has in recent years moved from designing bridges and airports to tall buildings in New York and Malmo, Sweden, said the Chicago structure would be concrete and have two sets of emergency stairways.

In New York, where Mr. Calatrava is the architect of the new transportation hub being built at the former World Trade Center site, the designers of the Freedom Tower acceded to security concerns by the New York Police Department and redesigned the structure this spring, adding a 200-foot reinforced base that will be virtually windowless. The Freedom Tower, if built to its current designed height, would be 1,362 feet to its roof, and 1,776 feet to the top of its antenna.

Mr. Calatrava said he was not concerned the Chicago tower could be seen as a terrorist target. It will be residential, not commercial, he said, and have a slender profile that would be less attractive to potential attackers. "Those things that were done in the Freedom Tower were for very particular reasons," he said. "This is a completely different situation."

Mr. Carley said he was preparing for a tough fight in Chicago to get his tower approved but did not expect its height to be a chief concern - even though he currently has approval only to build two structures of 300 feet and 500 feet. Donald J. Trump had plans for a 150-story building in Chicago but cut it back to 90 stories shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Mr. Carley dismissed Mr. Trump's decision as a reaction to the soft commercial market, but Mr. Trump said the reason was security. "Nobody in his right mind would build a building of that height in today's horrible world," he said in a telephone interview on Monday.

"I don't think this is a real project," Mr. Trump said of the Fordham Spire. "It's a total charade."

But so far, Chicago politicians are bubbling over the tower's design, and Mr. Carley and his sales team say that movie stars and at least one former chief executive of a Fortune 500 company are calling to inquire about buying units.

Living in the Calatrava tower would not come cheap, by Chicago standards. Mr. Carley said he expected one-bedroom units to sell initially for at least $600,000, with full-floor units of some 7,200-square-feet topping out at $5 million.

Compared to Some Other Tall BuildingsSo far, Mr. Carley said, he has lined up loose financing commitments from a company that represents a pension trust and from Corus Bank, which has backed other Fordham projects.

Alderman Burt Natarus, whose ward includes the tower's proposed site, said he was "amazed" when he saw a model of Mr. Calatrava's design. "It's like a needlepoint," Mr. Natarus said. "We have to sit down and we'll have to talk about security, that's all."

A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department said he had not heard of the project, and Monique Bond, the spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which handles Homeland Security concerns here, said she had not heard of it, either.

Mr. Calatrava initially passed on at least two sites before Mr. Carley's son Brian, a vice president with Fordham, proposed buying 2.2 acres near Navy Pier, a top tourist attraction. Mr. Calatrava said the location would practically bisect the skyline's two most notable towers, the Sears and Hancock.

The twisting design, which was recently tested in a wind tunnel in Canada, would disperse Chicago's gusting winds, Mr. Carley said. And Mr. Calatrava designed the interior so that posts and columns would be toward the structure's center, to allow balconies on some floors and maximize the floor-to-ceiling views.

Lynn Osmond, president of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, said, "Every city that wants to be a significant city needs to have works of some of the significant architects." Mr. Calatrava, Ms. Osmond said, designs great buildings.

The Carleys were aware of Mr. Calatrava's celebrity but did not shy away from using him, as some developers have. "We are not afraid of the starchitect," Brian Carley said.

Still, while on a trip to visit the architect in Zurich, Brian Carley said, Mr. Calatrava's wife, Robertina, turned to him and said, "You know, Brian, whatever you call the building, it will be still be known as the Calatrava."

Gretchen Ruethling contributed reporting for this article.
Funny how that article makes no mention of FLW's Mile High Skyscraper, which ought to instantly leap to many heads here...

They sure don't build them like they used to though. This modern batch of supertalls are really thin with heavy reliance on structural elements to boost there height.
It's interesting how many of the tall towers that make the news these days appear to be developed by one person rather than a company: Donald Trump, Stinson in Toronto and this Carley in Chicago. I'd love to get into a business where I can build a personal fortune on developing skyscrapers!
God that thing looks almost exactly like FLW's.
My money is on not being built...but I would love to lose that one!
Uncanny. I do like it, but I wonder about how it looks against the more boxy skyscrapers in the skyline. Hopefully, it won't stand out. I heard the Trump will be in its shadow, and Trump ain't happy...
lol must be the season, a '130 level skyscraper that looks like a flame'* skyscraper was just proposed by a cashed up Chinese corporate today!

* paraphrased from people's recollections of seeing it on Channel 7 Melbourne's 6pm bulletin.

no renders yet, but 130 levels, if all office (highly unlikely), would be 520m minimum (4m min floor to ceiling for offices here).

sounds ridiculous if you ask me! :eek
Publicity may be the name of the game for Mr.Carley, just as it is for Trump in Toronto. Building the thing is less important.
Uncanny. I do like it, but I wonder about how it looks against the more boxy skyscrapers in the skyline. Hopefully, it won't stand out.

Methinks it's nothing more than a post-Y2K version of Lake Point Tower's splendid isolation, urbanistically speaking. (N: Lake Point Tower's that thing to the *right* of Calatrava's in the illustration)
Actually, if you see the proposal up close, it really does not look like FLR's great proposal (except for the taper).

Interestingly, this is one of many proposals which, if built, will be taller than the CN Tower. Time to get those CN Tower extentions out of storage!!!

Indeed. Lake Point, though damned cool to look at from far away, is pretty abysmal at street level (like much of the area). But who knows. If anyone can add some streetlife to Streeterville, it's got to be Calatrava.
I am increasingly worried that Stinson's project could proceed in its current form. Is there any way the city can force him to improve the overall quality of his proposal? Given this will be the tallest building in the city, there is an enormous risk that we will become a sort of joke internationally.
Unfortunately the city convinced him to deviate from his last proposal (which was much better in my opinion) to the current one.
I am increasingly worried that Stinson's project could proceed in its current form. Is there any way the city can force him to improve the overall quality of his proposal? Given this will be the tallest building in the city, there is an enormous risk that we will become a sort of joke internationally.

Given all the condo-hotel projects flooding the market (Trump, Ritz, Four Seasons, Shangri-La, etc.) Im increasingly convinced Sapphire won't get built. And to be honest, in it's current form, I wouldn't miss it at all.

This Chicago tower looks spectacular!