The crisis paralyzed the construction of the Calatrava skyscraper in Chicago

The “Spire”, the designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was going to be the tallest building in the United States. That title will have to wait, at least until the economic crisis affecting construction all over the world starts having better days.

“We’re exploring all of the financial options with the economy as challenging as it is, but clearly this is long-term,” project spokeswoman Kim Metcalfe said. “We’re working toward the success of the building. We continue to actively market the building. Clearly, the construction of the building is on pause, but nothing else about the building has stopped.”

The break in construction has left a hole 110 feet wide and 76 feet deep at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive, making the Spire a worldwide symbol of the recession and shut-down credit markets.

For more information, read this article on the Chicago Tribune.

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "The crisis paralyzed the construction of the Calatrava skyscraper in Chicago" 24 Mar 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • sisifo

    thanks god and the holly ghost for this miracle…

  • Abdul Hussein

    Well, I still can’t believe they’d let Calatrava to do a skyscrape… and yet again they might be able to get it built sometime in the future but I’m just wondering whether they will be able to sell the units?? I don’t know if they are offices or penthouse apartments.
    Nonetheless, one thing I know for sure is that this building will ruin the beautiful cityscape of Chicago!

    This building is the ‘Bold and Ugly’.

  • Abdul Hussein

    Tthere is no respect for legacy and the Chicago School. I wonder how Calatrava won this competition. If anyone knows about the brief given or has information of the other finalists, please post a link or something.

    Thanks in advance.

  • odris


  • austerlitz

    Is not the legacy of the Chicago School that they were among the first to promote new technologies and steel construction to build higher buildings, to promote technical and aesthetic innovation in skyscraper design? Preventing Calatrava from building this would be going directly AGAINST the basic tenets of this so-called Chicago School. Cities are living, growing systems that accomodate, change, adapt. Prevent a city from doing this and you only end up killing it. Chicago’s skyline is the product of many egos, all of which have most likely been criticized for their contributions.

  • Georgia

    defend & scoff all you guys want, this rendering still looks like a giant joint… and completely out of place

  • Abdul Hussein

    it is not about preventing someone from building and this whole concept is somehow misleading because if I understand the term ‘Spire’ right which is the conical or pyramidal structure on the top of a building, why would you make anything close to this building??
    I just feel the entire project to be out of context – that’s just my opnion.

  • Archibuff

    After posting 3 times I think we get the drift, Abdul. Thank you for clarifying, Austerlitz.
    If we listened to the Abduls out there, we wouldn’t have a skyline here. Glad, that there are some visionaries out there that dare to add something new. We have enough average construction already. And the pace of the sales so far seem to prove that enough buyers are out there. And what’s wrong with a giant joint, Georgia. Want another boring box like they are building all over?

  • Fino

    Dubai in America.

  • renew_it

    @ Archibuff – yes I’d like another box, keep it simple and you win and we still like it once all the nurbs and distorted examples are out of fashion!

    only the headline “tallest” building whatsoever doesn’t mean it’s the right answer, that is speculation and reason of the crisis.
    cut this building in half and it merges into the skyline – plus saves costs(how about that for a change?)

  • Opium

    thank god he won’t build this…hoppefully they will revogue his architect license. The guy is an engeneer…let him alone with his white bridges in spain.

    La crisis trava à Calatrava

  • Abdul

    @Archibuff, I’m just saying imagine Calatrava’s Turning Torso added to the Chicago skyline – wouldn’t that be more embellishing ? or if you are interested in shapes like this, maybe the size of the ‘Gherkin’ would suit this building.

    I’ve got nothing against buildings being tall but the building has to add something to the skyline and not just dominate the others. A balance is needed for a perfectly ideal skyline. There is nothing far more beautiful than the juxtaposition of the old and the new.

    because at the moment there is no dialogue between this building and its surrounding context.

  • Eric

    Abdul you keep talking about this skyline as if it is a set of codes to which architects must adhere to. It is merely an artifact brought together by many mistakes and successes over the years. I don’t believe you can say a skyline is perfect or ideal it merely just is. With this logic should architects be designing building shapes and forms while looking at 10 cent postcards?

  • Abdul

    @Eric, i used the word skyline because that is the context here. If anywhere else call it the surrounding environment, the context the building is being build upon etc. – in other words the local adaptation. Architects tend too often to overlook the local adaptation whether being context, climate, culture, social, political relations etc. I think you get the picture.

    I really hope not that the INTENTIONS of the architect is born from mistakes and successes as you say. Each building was created with an intention in mind at a given time in a given environment. Buildings speaks to each other, they communicate even through time and that’s what I find intriguing. It doesn’t have to be new, old, cylindrical, triangle, cubic etc. but if the occassion (context) is right, I was about to say :-) something almost magical can happen.

    Please take another look at the Gherkin link I posted earlier and tell me if that is designed while looking at 10 cent postcards? I personally didn’t like that Building but once I saw the context it was build within I was intrigued even though i’m not a big fan of Norman Fosters designs but anyway he managed to consinder the surrounding context that he was going to build within. He wanted to celebrate the new fast growing city life having in mind it was born from past civilisations.

    I’m going to stop here because I feel these discussions can go on and on (and I sense that some might even feel irritated for some reason).

    We can continue over email if you’d like to.

    For now, adieu

  • Abdul

    A quote by Lucien Kroll which i find relevant for this discussion;

    “Diversity encourages creativity, while repetition anaesthetises it. Often architecture is too homogeneous, sometimes because of a self-centred desire to see buildings apart from their context, sometimes because of an exaggerated aesthetics commitment which tends to precious ‘architects’ architecture. But whatever the cause, such homogeneity makes it difficult for the users to add anything of their own, and we lose that rich resource of popular creativity which can transform a space into a place and give it life…”

  • Pingback: The Digest. 03.26.09. at

  • Jessica

    justice. served.