Calatrava tower for chicago... let the debate begin

A Center for Ants?

sorry for the bad pic

but it was all i could find. a google search yielded some earlier schemes but this one seems quite different from the others.

anyone have better pics? neither developer's website nor calatrava's have any pics... poo.

Jul 26, 05 2:52 am

and which one is it?

Jul 26, 05 4:18 am
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

I'm guessing the one with diamond-shaped cut-off top

Jul 26, 05 4:50 am

I think that's already there.

Smurfit-Stone Building, Chicago

Jul 26, 05 5:26 am

its the spiral tower thang just to the right of the right edge of the photo.

why not calatrava? he isn't koolhaas but that goes both ways.

least this one isn't another of his beached whale things...he is maybe only beat by meier in the land of self-referentopia, but again, why not?

Anything he does will be 100 times better than anything by SOM and their ilke. so i guess what i am saying is...could be worse.

Jul 26, 05 6:47 am

jump - "...SOM and their ilke"

I hope you are not stereotyping large corporate commercial practices like the one I work for. We are not all the same, but it could be worse.

Jul 26, 05 7:02 am
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

i still can't see which one it is....

Jul 26, 05 7:11 am
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

oh, there it is. its... tall, i guess... and glittery. like a shiny nail. but calatrava has never really excited me much. at least this has a better chance of getting built than libeskind's spire.

Jul 26, 05 7:15 am


and what bland kamin sezs about it
double yawn....

Jul 26, 05 8:43 am

there is a parrallel with fosters simple geometry that won the Stirling Prize last year. The interest in the Gherkin lies in the quality and the layers of the building skin.

You can't see much depth in the image above.

Jul 26, 05 9:16 am

what about the issue of reduced (negative) urban impact??

although the tower is incredibly tall, it is also much more slender than the current 2 towers on the site. It would free up space at the ground level and cast smaller shadows. (for half of the day it will only shadow lake michigan).

i think it's an important consideration since many will judge the buildings main flaw to be its disruptive urban presence.

Jul 26, 05 9:49 am

I saw an article in the paper here in Chicago this morning.

I assume the floors would be curved like that because of the outer walls? I know that photo above doesn't have much depth to it, but I imagine some of those floors would be very small.

Jul 26, 05 9:58 am
not per--corell

i'm with TED. [yawn]

i'd expect more questioning of the form a skyscraper might take from senor calatrava. his floating boxed in ny is a start. this is just flw's mile high with a twist.

wake me up when this one's over.

Jul 26, 05 10:05 am

im tired of being pesemistic... there are SO FEW interesting high rises being built in this city... i would rather it be this than those pieces of shit going up all over the southloop/roosevelt.
bottom line is that a building must make money, and you cant take too many chances with such a huge lot and a huge building.
well... you can take chances... but the developers almost never will...

it always makes me laugh when you hear a developer praise the innovations being made in thier buildings... like raised tech floors, and curvalinear shapes have never been tried

Jul 26, 05 10:19 am

and i dont think the proposed building is in that photo up top... as the lot is right next to navy pier

Jul 26, 05 10:21 am
not per--corell

yeah, the image was too wide for the 'nect format and the tower fell off the right side of the page. oops.

Jul 26, 05 10:22 am

those that are yawning: did you want Calatrava to decorate it with some random crumpled up metal or large red dots?

would you mind posting or linking to a skyscraper that wouldn't make you yawn? are you simply against any form that's understandable?

i agree i personally like Calatrava's NYC tower better, though i don't mind this Chicago design...depending on how the skin and materials are treated, it could look great.

Jul 26, 05 10:36 am

Tip of the Day: add "width=418" to make your images fit into the posting like the example below shows (but remember to remove all the spaces EXCEPT for the one between .jpg and width)
[ img ] width=418 [ /img ]

Jul 26, 05 10:39 am

That works Javier, but look what it does to a face!

Jul 26, 05 10:45 am

yes, I should add that fudging the width of the image will make your spire look taller.

Jul 26, 05 10:57 am
not per--corell


my comment specifically noted the 'questioning of the form' that calatrava has done well in the past. it's missing in this one and it looks like he's coasting a little. maybe too much work/too popular. with a piano (nytimes) or a meier (recent apt bldgs), i don't have the same expectation as i do from calatrava the structural sculptor.

so...what might questioning the form of a skyscraper mean?

like 'em or not, they have asked questions...

Jul 26, 05 10:58 am

just kidding... i think the image resizes proportionately.

Jul 26, 05 10:59 am

I always liked Eisenman's nonphallic design. And as much as I have never liked Koolhaas, his/their recent buildings are looking nicer and nicer - that one there would be pretty nice, not to mention a great structural accomplishment.

The rest look horrible.

Personally, I still like flw's mile high better than just about any skyscraper I've seen.

Jul 26, 05 11:10 am
liberty bell

OK, I like the tower. I think it balances the skyline nicely (at least it does in the view shown above) and Chicago as the "city of big shoulders" could use another very tall building that is not a plain box, or a decorated box. Sears and Hancock use their structure aesthetically, Hancock more elegantly than Sears, but they are of a kind in that the structure is expressed and gives the building form. I see the Calatrava design continuing that lineage in an even more refined, advanced, and intellectual way.

And, I'm now totally pulling for it to succeed given this quote from the developer:

Carley added: "If I had my druthers, I'd like to have Sears retain the title. If Santiago thinks it's(the height of the new building) essential, fine."

How often does one hear a developer say "I don't need to have the biggest. I want the one that is designed the best."?????

Go Carley, go Calatrava. Trump is a weenie.

Jul 26, 05 11:15 am
"It's going to put Chicago on the map," he said. "I'm not concerned about height. And I'm not concerned about density, because it's a sliver."

Thank goodness.. chicago really needs to be on the map.. no one knows of that city.

Jul 26, 05 11:26 am

It looks better than the Freedom Tower.

Jul 26, 05 12:57 pm

it could be worse ;)

Jul 26, 05 2:15 pm
Shalak Moore

I think all those "yawn"ing should reserve judgment until the tower is built. With good detailing and execution it could be pretty spectacular, and the renderings are fairly nebulous at this point. Give it a chance. Though on the same note, lackluster detailing could turn those yawns into sheiks of terror.

Personally, I thing this one will go the way of 7 South Dearborn (SOM's now defunct next-world's-tallest-in-Chicago design). Chicago is getting overbuilt with condo towers, and this thing is going to need to sell out in a hurry for it to be adequately financed.

Anyone have any information about who the local architect is going to be?

Jul 26, 05 2:39 pm

I'm of two minds regarding this...
First, I agree that yes, Calatrava could definitely have come up with something more creative. We've seen countless works by him that may or may not have been to your personal taste, but were always something unique, that nobody else would have done. I could see SOM or similar putting out a design like this, and from that perspective, I'm disappointed.

However, the alternate view is that it's better than the average building out there, so we should be grateful that it's going up. While the high minded side of me feels it could be pushed further, when I look at all the other crap that gets built, I think that we should just be thankful for every bit of halfway decent architecture that gets built, because it's going to raise the average level of architecture in our day to day lives.

Jul 26, 05 2:46 pm

rationalist is completely right...

has any chicagoan gone down to the south loop lately?
have you seen how horrible disgusting 75% of those pomo condos are?
have you grown tired of throwing up at the site of decorated pre fab concrete panels cladding every condo in the city?
are you not sick of architects emoting? cutting and pasting irrelevant symbols to thier buildings?

i am happy whenever a DECENT building gets done, as there is an over abundance of crap... ESPECIALLY in the condo sector.

also, from what i have read, as it is a calatrava building, financing has been easy so far... the developer has said its the easiest money hes ever raised... i see no reason it cant get built... it will be just as the pritzker pavilion... people here a name of a designer they recognize, and they want to be a part of it

Jul 26, 05 3:44 pm

Mies would aprove I think. I hope Calatrava gives as much atension to the ground as he does the sky.

Jul 26, 05 5:29 pm

also the devloper has already has these gems in its portfolio, they can't lose.

Jul 26, 05 5:34 pm

not per corell,

thanks for elaborating...

i'm guessing that site constraints limited the footprint and thus the architect can't 'question the form of the skyscraper' in the way your 1st and 2nd images do. i love the creativity of the 3rd and 5th images but they're not feasible for skyscraper proportions.

your 4th image maybe helps make my unspoken point...that it's almost assured that too much 'experimentation' leads to an ugly buildings. skyscrapers are better suited to streamlined, straightforward, structurally inspired/related designs.

in other words, i tend to think a Foster-type design is more in the nature of a skyscraper than a Gehry-type design. i don't mind successful exceptions though.

Jul 26, 05 6:24 pm

BOTS- well, then this should raise the level of their work a little, eh?

Jul 26, 05 6:29 pm

i thought it was interesting that all the world trade centre finalists (with the exception of libeskind) proposed muiltiiple or joined towers.

my fave.

Jul 26, 05 10:34 pm

my sources tell me jd is the local at present but might go to ll......yawn...x2

Jul 26, 05 10:46 pm

the skyscraper as a typology is a perpetual trap for many otherwise 'avant garde' architects.. the technical issues often preclude the level of experimentation that other buildings provide, while simultaneously focusing a spotlight on the architect so intense that they often are effectively blinded. it isn't as easy to let your ego run wild and free across the landscape of contemporary form when that form will very conspicuously tower over the landscape. in another sense, the class clown is often much wittier at the back of the class than in front of it.
anyway, with all that said, my problem with this design is that not only is it boring and blase for a supposed starchitect, but that it doesn't even respond honestly to the pragmatic issues of structure that have often been calatrava's inspiration, and often the bane of other skyscraper designs by 'starchitects'. as far as i know, the drill bit isn't inherently structurally efficient. to perpetually cantilevre the spiral form will take a great deal more material and calculation.
so i would say the design is neither practical nor inspirational. based on his earlier works and the images i've seen so far, i don't hold a great deal of hope for it being saved by details or being in its real presence either.

Jul 26, 05 11:34 pm
liberty bell

Hmm, intersting point, heterarchy.

I suppose to me the tower "looks" like its form is informed by its structure, but you're saying that the form is just decorative? I was assuming that the twisting form somehow made the thing stronger, given that it is confined to a small footprint. Is this true of other Calatrava works, am I being hoodwinked into believeing their srtucture if more "true" than it actually is?

Gotta sign off, big raging thinderstorm in Indy and I'm fearful of power surges - yikes! Would like to tlak more on this though....

Jul 26, 05 11:50 pm

i'm not a structural engineer, indeed mr calatrava certainly has greater knowledge on that front than i do. but that's my understanding of the structural situation. the enormous amount of torque that the design creates will make a less efficient structural system. it works for a drill because the drill is being rotated and driven in to something. the torqued form counteracts the immense pressure applied on it by rotation. however, this tower is not being acted upon in any way similar to that of a drill. structurally, without a lot of extra engineering and extra structural material, it would want to collapse on itself in a spectacular spiraling demolition. the tapered form helps, but not enough to make it a justifiably structurally pragmatic design.
now, in general, i much prefer designs and buildings that are more concerned with human beings than with post and beams, so to speak, so this isn't a pure critique of design as engineering. i'm critical of this design because it seems to neither succeed at inspiring or illuminating, nor at being "realistically" practical.
it feels like a meaningless and hollow, pre-packaged consumer image that capitalizes on calatrava's momentary trendiness, without embodying any of calatrave IN it. and i don't even like calatrava's ealier, 'good' work. though as others have mentioned, i am interested in seeing what his nyc project develops in to. it could be the first of his projects that i may like.. :)

Jul 27, 05 12:41 am
Calatrava's "Turning Torso"
Jul 27, 05 12:47 am

i wonder if, following on from the sequence of plans in delerious New York, the first world trade centre towers were the maximum expression of the potentialy infinite (not withstanding structural constraints) stacking of universal floor plates. i guess im proposing that the calatrava tower, libeskind's condo's and the developing menagerie in china and dubai are simply attempts to achieve some semblence of originality in an allready exahusted typology by experimenting with form, rather than criticaly thinking about the function or even the social and economic relationships of the skyscraper to the rest of the city. this then emphasises heterachy's trap as the sucessive projects try to outcompete eachother in formal gymnastics.

this is why i find the examples posted by not per correl, as well as steven holl's conected towers, interesting as they challenge not only the form, but also the function of skyscrapers.

(exhausted typology might be a bit strong and i know these towers will probably be built for the rest of human history but that doesent mean that we shouldnt move on)

this may not make much sense but i had a little to drink (beers were on our clients)

Jul 27, 05 2:47 am

she knows what to do with it

Jul 27, 05 5:03 am

Apparently Donald Trump is making a career out of being an architecture critic...

Developer Donald Trump, who is constructing a 92-floor, 1,360-foot skyscraper in Chicago for luxury condominium buyers, said Carley's proposed building would not be economically viable in the post-September 11 climate.

"Nobody is going to want to live in a building that's a target," he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Referring to Calatrava's design.

I'll now support this building to the death, if only to spite donald trump.
If you can't like a building out of spite, when can you like a building?

Jul 27, 05 5:41 am

good call upsidedown. the old lady was probably calatrava's inspiration... :)
and yeah, the donald trump thing is ridiculous, as usual. that guy should just shut up. i think it was from the same articale archgeek is ref'ing, the calatrava developer responded to trump with something like, 'oh, i see, your 1360 ft tower isn't a target, but my just slightly taller one is... give me a break.' :) paraphrased to be sure, but still pretty entertaining.
still, as liberty bell was saying earlier, it's still better than a lot of other scrapers. just looks more like something som would design, as opposed to an aia gold medal winner hot shot. i suppose calatrava's allowed to make some bank too though. :)

Jul 27, 05 12:46 pm
liberty bell

I think you're referring to rationalist's comment, heterarchy, but I agree with her - at least it is better than most developer dreck.

That being said, I am less enamored of it after reading your and upside down's posts regarding the actualy structure of the buidling and its influence on the form. As upside said, the potentially endless stacking of identical floor plates is one way to approach a skyscraper. It is interesting to me that the WTC floors truly were universal - no lessening of floor area relative to height. I spent some time years ago in one of the major penthouse apartments in the Lake Point Tower building in Chicago - also identical floor plates. So the penthouse apartments were bigger than the ones below only by virtue of knocking down more interior demising walls to take over more of the floor plate in one unit.

The interesting proposal in the Calatrava tower is that the very upper floors get quite small, allowing a single penthouse to be a single floor that is unlike any other floor in the building. This probably has a lot of desirablility for the super-rich who want to flaunt it.

The Calatrava proposal in NYC is fascinating to me for a similar reason - being able to point to one of those crystalline boxes hanging tenuously in the sky and say "That's my townhome" is such a ballsy notion.

Still and all, though, I am seduced by this tapering tower's appearance on the Chicago skyline - fluff though it may be.

Jul 27, 05 1:03 pm
A Center for Ants?


i thinka subtler twist would be more elegant. it almost begins to be too swirly and "fancy" for my tastes. less frozen yogurt, more twisting bodies please. but i do like the tapering as well.

Jul 27, 05 2:52 pm

underground unicorn. can you just see the sleeping horse all tangled up in the sewer lines and electrical conduits down there?

Jul 27, 05 4:35 pm
liberty bell

LOL, Jeremy, that image is hilarious! And so apt - now I feel like a girlygirl for liking the tower...maybe i don't like it so much anymore!

Jul 27, 05 4:41 pm

awww, dont feel that way. how can you resist it?

Jul 27, 05 4:50 pm

Here is a slideshow from NBC5

Jul 27, 05 5:31 pm

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