March 1, 2005
As the Chicago site for the $750 million
residential and hotel condominium complex dubbed Trump International
Hotel & Tower was cleared during the winter months, the
projects evolving design has become a soap opera featuring
the reality TV star developer Donald Trump and the citys
powerful mayor, Richard M. Daley.
The last publicly released drawings indicate an asymmetrically
stepped polished steel and glass tower of 90 stories with
a thin mast atop the roof. Trump indicated in early February
that the mast had been removed from the design in December,
prompting the Mayor to strongly state his preference for its
inclusion. By the end of February, Trump was again considering
a spire and contemplating the use of its height to claim at
least the citys and perhaps even the worlds
Chicagos tabloids have had their fun with the duel
of egos. Daleys preference for a spire spawned a Youre
Spired cover in the Chicago
Red Eye, while news of the revised height led to The
Donalds smiling mug with a Mines Bigger
headline in the same paper.
Missing from the fuss were designs for the tower. With construction
about to begin, Chicago-based Skidmore Owings & Merrill
(SOM) would not release current design drawings. What is known
is that the buildings structural framing has been changed
from steel to concrete, expanding its space by two floors
to 92 stories while maintaining an overall height of 1,125
feet not including the disputed spire. Without the
spire, Trump International Hotel & Tower would be the
citys fourth tallest structure 325 feet short
of the Sears Tower, eleven feet shorter than the Aon Center,
and within two feet of the much beloved John Hancock Center.
Late in February Trump announce that the final height would
probably take sixty days to negotiate with the city (and presumably
with input from the designers).
Unacknowledged during the debate is the overall effect of
such a tall spire. Even if the design is revised to beat the
Sears Tower, the spire would need to be more than one quarter
the height of the bulk of the building, a proportional challenge
that strains credulity.
When Trump first announced the project in 2001, he instructed
SOM to design the worlds tallest building. SOMs
designers were ready to meet with Trump Organization officials
on the morning of September 11, 2001 to review a 2,000-foot
tall scheme when the meeting was cancelled as downtown office
buildings were evacuated in light of that days terrorist
Completion of the building is expected in 2008.