As the sixth entry in our Dead by Design series, the Chicago Spire was a proposed 150-story “megatall” skyscraper that was to be located at the mouth of the Chicago River in Streeterville. At 2,000 feet in height, it would have been the tallest building in the United States and the third-tallest building in the world (soon to be fourth with the incoming completion of Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur).
Planned by Garrett Kelleher of Shelbourne Development Group and designed by Santiago Calatrava, the twisting tower would have had a dominating presence on the skyline. It would have dwarfed the current tallest Willis (Sears) Tower by 549 feet above its parapet and 271 feet above its antennae. The first iteration of the design was unveiled in 2006 and was to have a broadcast antenna mast. Toward the end of the same year, the scheme was updated to remove the mast and have a rounded top. The elimination of the mast allowed for an increase in floor count and floor area, bringing the total square footage to 3 million. The programming would also be updated in this second iteration to no longer contain a hotel.
The tower’s facade would feature a mix of faceted glass panels and lighter-colored metal arranged in a spiraling fashion. As noted in an article by Inhabitat, the structure would also come with several sustainable features such as high performance glass meant to protect migratory birds, a rainwater recycling system, a geothermal cooling system, and an interior energy management system that would outperform efficiency standards at the time by 15 percent.
The Spire would have had 1,193 condominium units ranging in size from 534 to 10,000 square feet. Each would have come with floor-to-ceiling windows and custom-designed finishes. Prices for the condos were expected to start at $850,000 and scale up to $36 million for a duplex penthouse unit on the 141st and 142nd floors. The skyscraper would also be attached to a 3.5-acre public park on the east side of Lake Shore Drive, also designed by Santiago Calatrava and dubbed “DuSable Park”. Parking, meanwhile, would have consisted of 1430 spaces in a seven-story underground garage.
Construction would begin in 2007 with an anticipated completion date of 2012. With Case Foundation serving as general contractor, work had progressed up to the point of foundation work with the creation of a 76-foot-deep hole.
In a chain reaction stemming from the Great Recession and subsequent financial difficulties of the development’s primary lender, Anglo Irish Bank, construction would come to a halt in 2008. In 2014, the site was voluntarily turned over under Chapter 11 to Related Midwest, one of the original creditors of the project. Related Midwest has now pushed forward its own plans to develop a pair of residential skyscrapers on the site measuring 875 and 765 feet. The designs by SOM extrude from hexagonal footprints and each employ a rounded tapering effect created by interchanging terrace setbacks. This new replacement duo is currently city-approved, and is expected to break ground in the near future.
A Second Note on Tribune East
As you may have noticed, the 1,422-foot Tribune East is back in the model. Regarding the last note on the project, it would be imprudent to assume that a third-party account would be enough to suggest that the project has been canceled. The new protocol is that any proposal will only be removed from the model once a firsthand confirmation has been provided.
We have since reached out to connect with the developers and determine if the project is still on the table. If we do get word whether the plans are still in play, we will provide an update. In the meantime, up until any new information is made available, Chicago’s potential second-tallest will remain.
I appreciate everyone’s patience in the course-correction on potential cancellations. The aim is to provide as accurate and real-time a picture as possible for the city’s current developments, especially as the model enters its next phase of availability.