Technogym
Technogym
Technogym

Gensler launch $500m revamp of Chicago's Willis Tower to create 'must-visit' attraction

With this historic investment the Willis Tower will remain a vibrant and modern icon that inspires both young and old for generations to come
– Rahm Emanuel

Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has announced ambitious plans to transform the city’s famous Willis Tower into a civic destination offering “unique retail and entertainment experiences.”

The building – an architectural icon and, at 1,450ft (442m), one of the world's tallest structures – was designed by architect Bruce Graham at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and opened in 1973 as the Sears Tower. It has not been renovated in the four decades since.

Development firm Blackstone – which bought the tower in 2015 – is investing US$500m (€496.6m, £400.4m) in the revamp, which has been designed by architecture and engineering giant Gensler.

Around 460,000sq ft (42,700sq m) of existing space within the tower will be reconfigured, including a full-service fitness centre, expansive tenant lounges and private event space for the people who live and work there. New public areas include more than 300,000sq ft (27,800sq m) of retail, dining and entertainment space, to be added to the base of the building, and a 30,000sq ft (2,780sq m) outdoor deck and garden space.

A new three-story transparent, glass structure will be set atop the existing stone plaza, offering a “see and be seen” experience that invites people to linger and enjoy the streetscape. Below the glass facade will be three subterranean floors organised around a three-storey winter garden. A dramatic glass skylight will provide unobstructed views of all 110 floors of the tower rising above.

Gensler have added this feature to break the barrier between the urban streetscape and the building, which was created in the original design by building the tower atop a base. According to the developer, the new design adapts to “changes that have since occurred in the city and its neighbourhoods, and in the nature of the way we use urban environments for work, life and play.”

In addition to the major building renovations, Willis Tower’s 103rd floor Skydeck Chicago experience will be enhanced by Los Angeles practice Hetzel Design to create “a one-of-a-kind family entertainment experience.” The attraction, which currently welcomes 1.7 million visitors annually, is the highest observation deck in the US and boasts views of up to 50 miles, covering four states, on a clear day.

Four glass viewing boxes, called ‘The Ledge,’ extend beyond the structure itself. While these can hold up to five tonnes, cracks in the glass formed in May 2014, forcing their temporary closure.

Blackstone has pledged to offer 5,000 free Skydeck tickets annually to Chicago’s public schools, so that children from communities across the city can experience the attraction following the revamp.

“With this historic investment the Willis Tower will remain a vibrant and modern icon that inspires both young and old for generations to come,” said Emanuel. “But more than that – today Blackstone is doubling-down on its confidence in the future we are building in the city of Chicago.”

Jon Gray, global head of real estate at Blackstone, added: “Willis Tower has always been iconic within Chicago’s skyline and around the world. The investment we announced today is the largest Blackstone has ever made in reimagining one of its properties.

“Our goal is to restore Willis Tower to its original prominence and make it a must-visit destination in Chicago for tenants, local residents and tourists.”

Work on the project will begin this month, with design-build firm Turner Clayco overseeing construction.

Gensler  Willis Tower  Chicago  The Ledge  Blackstone  Rahm Emanuel  architecture  design 
Related stories
10 Nov 2016

Long-awaited Chicago Riverwalk brings leisure to the heart of the city

06 May 2016

Marks Barfield and Davis Brody Bond design 'iconic' cable car for Chicago

23 Mar 2015

Blackstone buys Chicago's Willis Tower for US$1.3bn – will invest US$150m in leisure elements

30 May 2014

Cracks appear in Chicago’s Willis Tower Skydeck

Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has announced ambitious plans to transform the city’s famous Willis Tower into a civic destination offering “unique retail and entertainment experiences.” The building – an architectural icon and, at 1,450ft (442m), one of the world's tallest structures – was designed by architect Bruce Graham at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and opened in 1973 as the Sears Tower. It has not been renovated in the four decades
CLD,VAT,ARC,DES
The Willis Tower is an architectural icon and one of the world's tallest structures / Wiki Commons
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7662     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7662     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: TVS Group
TVS Group includes TVS Sports Surfaces, TVS Gym Flooring, TVS Play Surfaces and TVS Acoustics. Our business is balanced through a broad portfolio of solutions and a presence across multiple industries.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The Lingang Bird Airport scheme will see a wetland sanctuary and visitor centre created on reclaimed land
"Funding woes and murky timelines are common problems. It can be easier to make a difference one small project at a time"

From parks designed to mitigate the effects of flooding to warming huts for one of the world’s coldest cities, these projects have been designed for increasingly extreme climates

The midcentury modern Whiting Residence
Alan Metcalfe
"When people are a bit scared, they gather together"

Featuring a vibrating glass platform and one of the US’s longest tree canopy walks, Whiting Forest has been designed to bring visitors closer to nature and to one another

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The architecture features clean lines and a diamond shape designed to represent the Dolomite mountains
"Wellness embraces the entire holiday experience"

The design of the newly-opened Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomitti in Italy aims to celebrate and protect its spectacular surroundings

Profile: Daan Roosegaarde
"I want to demonstrate that creativity is our true capital as humans "

Rather than feeling fearful and helpless about the future, we must design a way out of the environmental problems we have created, argues the innovative Dutch designer, artist and inventor Daan Roosegaarde

Culture: Alexander Schwarz
Alexander Schwarz
"Our aim was to create a place celebrating public space and accessibility"

The opening of the James-Simon- Galerie on Berlin’s Museum Island completes two decades of work for David Chipperfield Architects. The lead designer talks us through the building

features
"We’ve designed the space so that the atmosphere is intimate"

Les Mills’ new studio spaces at its iconic Auckland City Gym showcase a trend away from masculine ‘grunty’ gyms to something altogether different

Scott Lee designed the family’s residence, the first LEED-H certified home in Marin County, US
Scott Lee became president of SB Architects in 2000. Tracy Lee founded TLee Spas in 2015
"We design to connect the guest to the place, positioning people at the centre of the design"

Architect Scott Lee and spa consultant Tracey Lee on marrying the worlds of design and wellness in a series of interesting projects

A ‘glass waterfall’ houses a vertical circulation core and lifts
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

cladkit product news
Diamond balloon concept merges tourist attraction with advertising billboard
Magali Robathan
A group of Dutch engineers have presented a new attractions concept that combines a flying observation cabin with LED digital ...
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
cladkit product news
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
Fabio Alemanno Design uses elegant semi-precious stones to create memorable spa experiences
Alemanno believes the stones are well-placed in the spa environment thanks to their capacity to positively support physical and mental health
Megan Whitby
Fabio Alemanno Design has expanded its collection with semi-precious stones to enhance spas, wellness facilities, hotels and private residences. The ...
cladkit product news
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates
Technogym
Technogym