Adrenaline junkies rejoice: the Willis Tower has announced plans for $20 million dollars of improvements to their popular glass-bottom SkyDeck observation attractions. Among the additions will be a series of new all-glass protrusions from the building, as well as a chance to rappel down a glass shaft suspended from the building’s 103rd floor.
Revealed in a report by Morningstar Credit Rating, the project will expand the observation deck area to the 102nd floor to accommodate double its current 600-person capacity. One new attraction, called the “Ledgewalk,” will allow guests to skirt around the outside of the building supported only by a glass ledge cantilevered off of the facade (as well as a safety harness).
On the other side of the building, the glass rappelling box will allow visitors to lower themselves from the 103rd to 102nd floors using a rope. Additional renovations will include a glass-walled staircase that protrudes around the corner of the building.
The new attractions are expected to draw even more visitors to the tower’s observation deck, already one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations with over 1.7 million guests per year. It’ll also need to complete with the John Hancock Center’s 360 Chicago observation deck, which features a titling box that gives guests thrilling, face-first views of the streets below.
A timeline for the project has yet to be determined.
Found in places as diverse as the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, Willis Tower, and Tokyo Skytree, glass bottom observation decks have become the favorite engineering marvel of thrill seekers looking for a new perspective on the world. Now, the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles has upped the ante for adrenaline-spiking structures - affixing a glass side to the building's facade.
One of the United States' most recognizable skyscrapers, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), is set to receive a $500 million renovation designed by the Chicago office of Gensler. Announced by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel with real estate holders Blackstone and Equity Office, the project will transform and reinvigorate the 43-year-old building, which held the title of world's tallest building for nearly a quarter century.