The Chicago Tribune Tower is at the center of a $1 billion development seeking to bring over 700 residential units to the city center. Developers CIM and Golub have unveiled a proposal which would see the redevelopment of the neo-Gothic tower into 163 condominiums, and the construction of a tapering skyscraper only 30 feet shorter than the Willis Tower, Chicago’s tallest building.
Willis Tower: The Latest Architecture and News
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.
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.
When it comes to skyscraper architects, the first name that comes to mind is often Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. No firm has completed more supertall buildings than SOM, and to this day, they remain a leader in the field, designing both the western hemisphere’s and the world’s tallest buildings in One World Trade Center and the Burj Khalifa. Yet, arguably, the height of their powers came in the 1970s, directly following a lull in skyscraper construction that allowed the Empire State Building to retain the status of world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years.
It was then that Falzur Khan, a SOM architect and structural engineer, came up with the structural innovation that revolutionized the skyscraper industry, leaving lasting impacts on the construction methods of supertall buildings today.
Drawing from a recent story published by Mental Floss on the designer, we’ve come up with a list of facts about his life and role in the world of architecture.
Continue reading for the 8 things you should know about Falzur Khan.
Until recently, the only options for providing clients and the public with visualizations of what a prospective building would look like were almost exclusively hand drawn renderings, or scale models built by hand. Both of these practices are still in use today, but now there is a much wider range of options with 3D modeling software providing the bulk of renderings, the growing presence of 3D printing, and even video fly-throughs with special effects that rival the latest Hollywood action movie. This 16mm film created by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in 1984, and digitized by illustrator Peter Little, reminded us of what the early days of digital 3D modeling looked like.
Recently, ArchDaily editors received an interesting request from an anonymous Communications Director of an unnamed New York firm, asking us “In your reporting, please do not repeat as fact, or as "official," the opinion that One World Trade Center in New York will be the tallest building in the United States.” He or she goes on to explain that the decision maker who 'announced' the building as the tallest in the US, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), is not officially endorsed by the AIA or the US Government, and that while their work is beneficial for architecture and cities as a whole, their criteria for height evaluation are flawed and have been criticized by many in the industry.
The desire to have the tallest building in a city, country or even the world goes back to at least the medieval period, when competing noble families of Italian hill towns such as San Gimignano would try to out-do each other's best construction efforts (jokes about the Freudian nature of such contests are, I imagine, not much younger). Perhaps the greatest symbol of this desire is the decorative crown of the Chrysler Building, which was developed in secret and enabled the building to briefly take the prize as the world's tallest, much to the surprise and ire of its competitors at the time.
With this competitive spirit apparently still very much alive, I thought it might be worthwhile to address the issue raised by our anonymous friend.
Imagine standing on a glass platform with Chicago 1300 feet directly below. Suddenly, the glass holding you begins to crack. This actually happened to Alejandro Garibay at the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) just last week. Luckily, Garibay wasn't hurt, but the occurrence begs the question: how safe is glass - the most common material used in skyscrapers nowadays - really? Karrie Jacobs At Fast Company - Design, asked materials experts to find out "The Truth Behind Building With Glass."