Chicago Spire // USA // Santiago Calatrava

‘A twisting 2,000 foot tall tower on the shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River, the Chicago Spire will house 1,200 exeptional residences and will becaome a new landmark on the city’s skyline. Set in 1-acre landscaped plaza open to the public, the Chicago Spire will have a 4-storey transparent lobby and will be the tallest building in the United States and the tallest residential building in the world.’

The Chicago Spire is a super tall skyscraper under construction/on hold (due to the current economy) in Chicago, Illinois. The building was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and is being developed by Garrett Kelleher of Shelbourne Development Group, Inc. If completed, at 2000 feet (609.6 m) and with 150 floors, it will be among the world’s tallest buildings and freestanding structures.


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.

The curved design, similar to that of Calatrava’s Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden, may provide two major benefits to the structure of the building. First, curved designs have a tendency of adding to the strength of a structure. A similar principle has been applied in the past when building curved stadium roofs. In addition to structural support, the curved face of the exterior will minimize wind forces. In rectangular buildings, a fluid wind flow puts pressure on the windward face of the building, while as air moves around it, a suction is applied to the leeward face. This often causes a sway in tall buildings which can be counteracted, at least partially, by stiffening the structure or by using a dynamic wind damper. Although the curved design of the Chicago Spire will not completely negate wind forces, a tapering concrete core and twelve shear walls emanating from it are installed to counteract these forces instead.

Additionally, the Chicago Spire will incorporate world-class sustainable engineering practices to meet Gold standard of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. Sustainable features include recycled rainwater, river water used for cooling, ornithologically-sensitive glass to protect migratory birds, intelligent building and management systems, waste storage and recycling management, and monitored outdoor air delivery.


Following the city approval, it was announced that construction of the Chicago Spire was to begin in summer 2007 with caisson scheduled to begin as early as June 2007. DuSable Park was designated as a staging area for the construction of the tower. The sales center for the Chicago Spire opened on January 14, 2008.

On September 19, 2008, a spokeswoman for the developer announced that construction was continuing on the building, but that the pace of construction will be slowed until the financial markets improve from the subprime mortgage crisis. The October 1, 2008 edition of The Wall Street Journal said that the building foundation was complete and the above ground construction would not continue until the markets recover.

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10 Responses to “Chicago Spire // USA // Santiago Calatrava”

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