Architecture | Chicago | News | Real Estate | Santiago Calatrava

Calatrava's "Chicago Spire": North America's Tallest Skyscraper?


With an endorsement from the Chicago City Planning Commission last week, Santiago Calatrava's 2,000 ft. "Chicago Spire" has come one step closer to reality. The building would become North America's tallest skyscraper, surpassing its next tallest rival, Chicago's Sears Tower, by 550 feet.

Spire2The project has been through several iterations, according to the Chicago Tribune: " Inevitably, some will lament that this is not the original version of the tower, called the Fordham Spire, which proposed a hotel and communications antenna as well as condos on a vacant site west of Lake Shore Drive and on the north bank of the Chicago River. But that design was a seductive fantasy. This one, which would house about 1,200 condominiums, is striving to be real. Certainly, it has made great strides toward balancing form and finance, especially since December, when Calatrava made public a banal, nearly flat-topped version of the skyscraper. It instantly was tagged 'Twizzler Tower' (see video, below right) for resembling a piece of licorice. Since then, the restless architect has moved gradually to the present plan, in which the tower rises energetically but nobly, making a 360-degree twist as it moves from the ground to a sharply articulated summit."

Recent improvements to the plan, including moving a parking structure underground and a generous financial commitment toward the development of adjacent DuSable Park (named for Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, the first non-native settler of Chicago) from Shelbourne Development, appear to have won city planners over. The Chicago Spire's plan includes 150 stories, each of which would rotate two degrees from the one below it , to a total rotation of 360 degrees. The videos below show part of a presentation Calatrava gave to the Chicago City Planning Commission (left) and an earlier plan for the project.

City panel endorses Spire's latest twist [chicago tribune]
Chicago Spire gets Plan Commission OK [crain's chicago business]

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  1. Chicago's skyline is one of the most beautiful to behold. I honestly don't know how this will add to it, it seems a bit out of place in the artist renderings. I wish we could get off this "tall" kick and concentrate on simply "beautiful".

    Posted by: Joe | Apr 23, 2007 2:25:36 PM

  2. Yuk. What an eyesore to add to the Chicago skyline.

    Posted by: carlo | Apr 23, 2007 2:26:39 PM

  3. It looks like Chicago's really getting screwed on this one! har har

    Seriously, though, that is one ugly building. Thirty years from now, people will be asking, "what were they thinking?".

    Posted by: chris | Apr 23, 2007 2:27:52 PM

  4. it looks like a s&m didlo.

    Posted by: ken | Apr 23, 2007 2:30:50 PM

  5. I have a dildo that looks almost exaxtly like that.

    Posted by: rc | Apr 23, 2007 2:32:00 PM

  6. um, make the dildo. sorry.

    Posted by: ken | Apr 23, 2007 2:32:50 PM

  7. They should make their city slogan:
    "Chicago. We're screwed up!"

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Apr 23, 2007 2:35:04 PM

  8. I like the flat top version better, this seems to be too European/Asian in design.
    If anyone has never been to Chicago in the summer, you are missing one ofthe most beatiful cities in North America. The architecture (not just in downtown), the lakefront, prks etc. are first rate. Markt Days in boystown the 2nd weekend of Aug. is a blast.

    Posted by: Mike | Apr 23, 2007 2:35:57 PM

  9. Well at least it isn't the Freedom Tower. That is one ugly piece of crap architecture.

    Posted by: Gary | Apr 23, 2007 2:36:40 PM

  10. Bin Laden just came in his cave seeing this...

    Posted by: Kamasutra Jones | Apr 23, 2007 2:43:31 PM

  11. I love it because the design is bold and daring...but it *does* look like a dildo.

    Posted by: peterparker | Apr 23, 2007 2:45:16 PM

  12. I don't have a problem with it.

    Posted by: mark m | Apr 23, 2007 2:46:21 PM

  13. That's just fugly.

    Posted by: Ryan | Apr 23, 2007 2:56:09 PM

  14. Giant dildo notwithstanding, I think the building is beautiful, unique and would be a nice addition to the Chicago skyline.

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 23, 2007 2:56:36 PM

  15. It really couldn't be more phallic if they tried. Wow.

    I'm not sure which design I like better architecturally. The licorice stick was more interesting and daring. It wasn't very building-like, though. It looked like a sculpture that would work better on a much smaller scale.

    This new design is more building-like, but more ho-hum to me. It's not daring at all.

    The Petronas Towers, now those are interesting and attractive. Why can't we get architecture like that here in the States?

    Posted by: Rich | Apr 23, 2007 2:57:24 PM

  16. Another thing: I thought the "Freedom Tower" to be built on the site of the WTC, at 1776 feet tall, was SUPPOSED to be the tallest building in the WORLD upon its completion.

    If my math is right, that would make this building a good 200+ feet taller, so if the claims about the "Freedom Tower" are accurate, then this building would be the tallest in the world, right?

    Unlike the "Freedom Tower", this building doesn't rely on an antenna for 200 feet of its height footage.

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 23, 2007 3:05:44 PM

  17. Worship the cock!!

    Posted by: Funfur | Apr 23, 2007 3:08:49 PM

  18. I think it's an interesting addition to the Chicago skyline... the screwy lines are whimsical. And yes, it does look like a big dildo... perhaps that's what they'll call it when all the A-list Chicago gay boys move in. "I live in the big dildo in the sky, girl... come on over... "

    Posted by: Brian | Apr 23, 2007 3:11:33 PM

  19. The Chicago Dildo has nothing on Florida.

    A State Capital building, complete with matching scrotum.

    Posted by: Rad | Apr 23, 2007 3:11:37 PM

  20. Ribbed for your pleasure?

    Posted by: Ed | Apr 23, 2007 3:14:45 PM

  21. As one who actually lives in Chicago, I like this building -- in its current stage. I think it'll add to our unique and beautiful skyline. I guess the building is doing its job as a work of art. If the building were more plain, no one would comment on it, positively or negatively.

    For those of you who have never been to Chicago, make sure you visit and stop by to visit us at Manifold!

    Posted by: Manifold | Apr 23, 2007 3:22:59 PM

  22. To me this looks like a drill bit that started somewhere in China and kept going, however, it's not ugly. Weren't people saying that terrorism would keep tenants out of tall buildings? Who's putting up the money for this?

    Posted by: anon | Apr 23, 2007 3:41:35 PM

  23. I think it's horrible-it looks like it should be in Dubai or Singapore or some city that is building for the Guinness Book instead of building towards the goal of making a better city.

    I dont like Calatrava's work in general-he's very shticky and one-note, so that appeals to the average person who just knows "what they like" and isnt that visually informed or educated about architecture. He's creating art pieces that you can live in-that's different from buildings that fits into the city and pushes it forward. He had a show at the Met Museum in New York and t confirmed that opinion-he presented these tacky gold, platinum and brass sculptures and the buildings are a 1:1 translation-he just scales them way way up and people fall for it.

    And to explain the snotty paragraph above, I'm an architect myself and among a lot of architects, my opinion of Calatrava is not unusual.

    Posted by: Charles | Apr 23, 2007 3:47:42 PM

  24. Some architects might not like Calatrava's work, but they neither pay for the buildings or (unless they practice locally) have to live with them. The majority of people I've talked with in Milwaukee have adored his work on the art museum there... for once people are talking about the Milwaukee skyline when not a peep was made about it beforehand. Don't know what that says about Calatrava's architectural pedigree, but it certainly does say something for his ability to produce buildings that start conversations about art among people who never would have discussed the subject otherwise.

    Posted by: Brian | Apr 23, 2007 4:08:30 PM

  25. i was going to say what has been said multiple times before and i have never actually seen a dildo its one of those unexplainable things where everyone thinks the same thing ex this taste like shit , though one has not eaten shit before (excluding middle class white males i.e jackass with to much time on hands)

    Posted by: sasha | Apr 23, 2007 4:14:05 PM

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