Innovation & Design

Calatrava Designing Massive Tower in Chicago


Spanish architect and 2005 AIA Gold Medal winner Santiago Calatrava, FAIA, has proposed a residential tower design for Chicago's lakefront that could become the tallest building in the United States. The 115-story tall glass and metal-clad design is dubbed Fordham Spire. It spirals at two degrees per floor, swirling towards its rooftop mast, which is included in the overall height of 2,000 feet. Not counting the mast, the building's roof is actually 1,458 feet, a mere eight feet taller than the current record holder, nearby Sears Tower.

The site is part of the lakefront River East development, and the tower is significantly larger than the structures envisioned in the area's 1980s-era master plan. The tower's base will include an undetermined mix of retail and parking uses. Its 920,000 square feet will include 200 to 250 condominium units and a similar number of hotel rooms.

Calatrava, who is also working on skyscrapers in New York, Valencia, and M?lmo, Sweden is well known in the region for his addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Several years ago he produced a design for a lakefront pedestrian bridge that the city has essentially shelved. Experts familiar with the local real estate market question whether the Fordham Company's Christopher Carley, the project's developer, can successfully market the high-priced residential units in a luxury market that many consider mature.

Previous schemes to break the Sears Tower's lock on the city's tallest building have repeatedly stumbled, most recently when New York developer Donald Trump reduced the height of his Trump International Hotel & Tower in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Trump's project is currently under construction and will be the city's second-tallest tower at 1,360 feet including its spire.

Completion on Calatrava's tower is scheduled, pending city review and approvals, for 2009.


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