Trump Tower, Chicago

Trump Tower Chicago

Completed: 2009
Architect: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (Adrian Smith)

The name "Trump" conjures images of gold-plated garishness, so it comes as a surprise that the Chicago building bearing the moniker is quite tasteful and restrained. Despite its conspicuous location and height—at 90-plus stories and 1,389 feet, it is is the third-tallest building in the country, after the Willis Tower and One World Trade Center—the tower has a relatively unobtrusive profile, thanks to setbacks, reflective glass and stainless steel mullions that appear as a faint, silvery skein over the building. Window space is maximized through the use of concrete; in fact, the Trump is the largest concrete reinforced building in North America, with 20,000 truckload’s worth in the whole structure. The concrete also helps prevent the upper floors from swaying, while the setbacks and rounded edges of the building mitigate the formation of vortices, or whirlpools of air that can shake the structure.

Trump Tower was erected on the former site of the squat, undistinguished Chicago Sun-Times Building on the north side of the Chicago River. Original plans called for it to be the tallest building in the world, but that idea was scrapped after the 9/11 attacks. In an attempt to integrate the building into the famous neighborhood, lead architect Smith designed the three setbacks to align with the tops of prominent buildings nearby. The one on the east lines up with the Wrigley Building, while those on the west side correspond with Marina City and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 330 North Wabash (formerly known as the IBM Tower).

The lower floors of the Trump house a hotel, parking garage and retail space. Much of the rest of it is devoted to condominiums.

SOM was founded in Chicago in 1937 and the Trump Chicago is their third major tower in the city after the Willis (1973) and the Hancock Center (1969). The firm did much to propagate International Style skyscraper design through the United States and across the world. Among their greatest hits: New York City’s Lever House, the aforementioned Willis Tower and the tallest building in the world, the magnificent Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Adrian Smith was the lead architect on the Burj Khalifa, which, with its tapered appearance, periwinkle hue and horizontal bronze strips, resembles a stretched out version of the Trump.

Trump's tower has earned mostly positive reviews from Chicagoans; less popular was his decision to place his name in 20-foot letters on the side of the building.