Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chicago's Bid for 112 Stories of Glory

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chicago's Bid for 112 Stories of Glory

Article excerpt

Today it's known as the Windy City. But pretty soon we may be calling it Cloud City.

After the Chicago City Council gave its unanimous go-ahead on Wednesday for construction of the world's tallest building, this Midwestern American metropolis is back in the running to claim the ever-harder-fought crown in the global game of king of the hill.

The move highlights Chicago's burgeoning high-altitude culture in which office workers aren't surprised to see hangers swaying in closets as their mighty monoliths bend in the wind.

But it also came on the same day that the Japanese developer of a massive Shanghai skyscraper announced he's rejigging his design to make the building taller - and furthermore won't disclose the new height so cities like Chicago can't one-up him.

Behind this building brinkmanship are telling lessons and symbols about global centers of money, power, innovation, and technology. Even though the world's tallest tower may soon be in Chicago, for instance, funding will likely come from the newly rekindled Asian economy.

Yet even though Asia's got the cash - and is home to many big building projects including the world's current tallest towers in Malaysia - if Chicago's new contender were completed today, it would make the Windy City home to five of the 25 tallest skyscrapers. That's more than any other place on the planet. (Its other biggest buildings are the Sears Tower, the Amoco Building, the John Hancock Tower, and the AT&T Corporate Center.)

The design of the new 1,550-foot-high structure, which Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley called "unusual," resembles a stick that's stacked with marshmallows and is about to be thrust into a campfire for making smores.

The 112-story, $500 million slender spire will have 765,000 square feet of office space atop 70,000 square feet of retail space and an 800-slot parking garage. Above that will be 350 luxury condos, fetching an average of $450,000 each. They'll be the world's highest residences.

And because of the building's unique design, there won't be any outer-support columns on the condo levels, so residents will have floor-to-ceiling glass and an unimpeded city view. …

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