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The Willis Tower is one of the tallest skyscrapers in the entire world.
Constructed in 1973, this 108 story building has been an iconic sight of the Chicago skyline ever since. This gigantic building has several interesting facts about it.
The Willis Tower was once the highest building in the World. After its construction was completed in 1973, it remained the tallest skyscraper until 1998. The iconic architecture of the building was designed by the global architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Currently, the building stands as the third tallest in the Americas and the Western Hemisphere. The Willis Tower is popular among tourists in the city of Chicago. Read on to learn more about the tower.
The heart and soul of downtown Chicago, the Willis Tower is the iconic building dominating the skyline and encompassing more than 4.5 million sq ft. The Willis Tower is among the world's tallest buildings and the third tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. On a clear day, you can view the Chicago skyline, Illinois plains, and Lake Michigan all from the glass balconies of the tower's observation deck, the Skydeck. The tower is also unique because of its location, on a bright day you can view parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin from the tower. The magnitude of this steel frame skyscraper may seem incomprehensible.
The vision for constructing the skyscraper first came into being in 1969 when Sears Roebuck and Company felt the need for an office space for 350,000 employees. At that time they were the largest retailer in the world and the executives decided to consolidate all workers of Chicago into a building on the western edge. The construction work of the Willis Tower started in 1970 and it took around three years to complete the construction. The renowned architectural firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) designed the Willis Tower. More than 2000 workers took part in constructing this enormous building and untill 1998, the Willis Tower remained the tallest building in the world. Willis Tower was not always named so, it was called the Sears tower for 36 years.
After 18 years, Sears Roebuck and Company moved out of the building and in 2009, the building was renamed Willis Tower after Willis Group Holdings, the insurance broker who called the towers his mid-west home. In 2015, it was purchased by Blackstone for $1.3 billion. The Skydeck was inaugurated in 1974 and attracts more the 1.7 million visitors yearly. It is the highest observation deck in the US. In 2009, the Skydeck went through a renovation costing millions of dollars. The work included constructing 'The Ledge' in the building. The Ledge is a series of windows extending from the building which allows a straight view over the state of Chicago. It is placed 103 stories up from the ground. Visitors can enjoy the history, architecture, food, and music of Chicago while enjoying interactive sessions highlighting the building.
The enormous Willis Tower spans approximately 4.6 million sq ft (427,354 sq m) which is equivalent to 105 acres if spread across the ground. The building's area is equivalent to 101 football fields and 16 blocks in Chicago. Apart from the floor space, the rentable area of this Chicago building covers 3.8 million sq ft. The view from 'The Skydeck' of the tower stretches for approximately 40-50 mi (65-80 km).
To start the planning of the tower, the Sears Company hired the global architectural and engineering firm, SOM. Before selecting the current location of the building bounded by Jackson Boulevard on the south, Adams Street on the north, Franklin Street on the east, and Wacker Drive on the west with Quincy Street running through the middle in the east-west direction, the Goose Island was proposed as the location of the building which was eventually rejected. A specialized team of the most defining architect of Chicago, Bruce Graham, and the person who created a Rennaissance in Skyscrapper construction, Falzur Khan, carefully handled the architectural designing of the Willis Tower. After the completion of the construction, Khan was referred to as the Einstein of structural engineering and the greatest structural engineer of the 20th century.
Khan used nine square tubes, each of which is a separate building, to form a single tower. Willis Tower was built in such a way that it could accommodate more than 12,000 occupants. It has 16,100 bronze-tinted windows and 104 elevators located throughout the building. The elevators of this 108 story building operate as fast as 1600 ft (488 m) per minute making them one of the fastest in the world. The building itself contains 25,000 mi (40,223 km) of electrical cable, 80 mi (130 km) of elevator cable, and 43,000 mi (69,200 km) of telephone cables which is enough to stretch across the US 15 times. The enhanced lighting system results in improved energy efficiency throughout the building. When the construction of Willis Tower was completed, it became the tallest building in the world with an architectural height of 1450 ft (442 m). However, the construction cost of such a huge skyscraper was relatively minimal. It cost about $150 million at that time which would be equivalent to $800 million in 2016. The building retained its record for 25 years until it was surpassed by the Petronas Tower of Kuala Lumpur in 1998. Later several other taller buildings made Willis Tower the 25th tallest building in the world currently.
A tower so high has attracted many filmmakers to the site of Willis Tower. The building has appeared in several television shows and movies that were based in Chicago.
For example, in the show, 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off', Ferris and company were shown to visit the Skydeck of the building.
When the 'Late Night Show with Conan O'Brien' visited Chicago in 2006, a character called Sears Tower was introduced wearing Sears's clothing.
It was also featured in the History Channel's 'Life After People'.
The Chicago Franchise often shows clips where the tower is visible from a distance.
In the film 'Category 6: Day of Destruction', the Willis Towers is shown to get damaged by a Tornado.
In the movie, 'I, Robot', the building is shown in the future with new triangular antennas and its height is surpassed by a fictional building called USR.
The Willis Tower became a part of Gotham City in the film 'Dark Knight'.
The tower is featured several times in the 2011 film 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon'.
In the film 'Divergent', the tower is shown as a decayed and abandoned building in future Chicago.
In 'Man of Steel', this building is shown as the offices of the Daily Planet.
How old is the Willis Tower?
In 2022, the Willis Tower turned 52 years old.
How many states can you see from the Willis Tower?
On a clear day, you can see over 50 mi (80.5 km), from the top of the Willis tower making four states visible. They are Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.
What year was the Willis tower built?
The construction works of Willis Tower started in 1970 and ended on May 3, 1973.
Where is the Willis Tower?
The second tallest building in the US, the Willis Tower is located in Chicago.
How many floors are in the Willis Tower?
The 1,450 ft (442.1 m) building has 108 stories. This makes it the second tallest building in North America and one of the tallest in the world.
Who designed the Willis Tower?
The Willis Tower was designed by the architect Bruce Graham and structural engineer Falzur Khan of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM).
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