standard Chicago Spire – The tallest building in the US

The Chicago Spire is a skyscraper that is planned to be built in Chicago, Illinois. The building was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and was being developed by Garrett Kellehr of Shelbourne Development Group, Inc. At 2,000 feet (610 m) and with 150 floors, it will be among the world’s tallest buildings and freestanding structures, and the tallest building in the US .

Chicago Spire

Chicago Spire Project

The city where the skyscraper was born just can’t get enough of these supertowers. The Chicago Spire is the latest in a series of super-tall projects proposed and erected since the mid 1990’s.


This is the first Chicago project for Spanish architectural superstar Santiago Calatrava, though he has graced the shores of Lake Michigan before with the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion. Its position at the point where the Chicago River drains Lake Michigan puts it in the center of the city’s skyline, and out in front of any of the thousands of photographs taken by tourists cruising the lake each day.

As with many of his designs, Calatrava has been inspired by themes and designs in nature for the tall, twisting skyscraper. For the design of the building, he likened the structure to an imaginary smoke spiral coming from a campfire near the Chicago River lit by Native Americans indigenous to the area, and also related the building’s newly designed pinnacle to the “graceful” and “rotating forms” of a snail shell.

chicago spire

The Chicago Spire

Standing at 2,000 feet (610 m), the Chicago Spire would further transform the always-changing Chicago skyline. Plans for the tower include 1,193 condominiums with each of the building’s 150 stories rotating 2.4 degrees from the one below it for a total 360 degree rotation.In February 2008, prices for the condominiums were announced as ranging from $750,000 to $40 million USD. For supplemental structural support, each floor would be surrounded by cantilevered corners and four concave sides. Similar to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and John Hancock Center observation decks, the Chicago Spire will house a community room at the top floor offering residents a view of four U.S. states.

In a New York Times article about the building, it was compared to a drill bit, a blade of grass, and a tall twisting tree. Others have compared it to a lighthouse, which could end up being its nickname because of its location. The inability to quickly categorize the construction is what you come to expect from a Calatrava design , something both geometric and organic. Something that take a simple form and twists it in the wind like so many of his other bridges and buildings.

In this case each floor is rotated slightly as the tower rises higher. The result is, indeed, something very much like a drill bit. The original plan called for the bottom 20 floors to be occupied by a hotel, while the rest of the building was to be filled with 1,200 luxury condominiums. The final configuration has this building entirely residential. Much to the disappointment of tourists and skyscraper fans, there are no plans for a public observation deck.

The chicago spire

The Chicago Spire Skyscraper- Night View

Financial crisis

By October 2008, the late-2000s recession was beginning to have an impact on the project. Construction was suspended and the tower’s architect, Santiago Calatrava, placed an $11.34 million (USD) lien on the construction site, stating that Kelleher had not yet paid him for his work. Within a few months Anglo Irish Bank, the primary lender for the project, was on the brink of financial collapse. The bank’s stocks had lost nearly all of their value and Anglo Irish Bank was facing nationalization. Due to the bank’s dire financial situation, Shelbourne Development was forced to suspend construction, and would eventually have to pay back the $69.5 million (USD) it already borrowed.

Quick Facts

  • Construction start: 2007
  • Construction finish: 2012
  • Designed by : Santiago Calatrava
  • Type: Skyscraper
  • Stories: 150
  • Maximum Height:2000 feet ( 610 m)
  • Maximum Depth: 80 feet

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