New Chicago Skyscraper Design: Fordham Spire

It’s a birthday candle! It’s a tampon! It’s a screw coming out of the ground. No, waitâÂ?¦it’s the Fordham Spire, a planned addition to the Chicago skyline. When I polled friends and colleagues about the new Chicago skyscraper design, those are some of the derisive responses I received. Before you read the rest of this article, visit the Fordham Spire website and take a look at the new Chicago skyscraper design:

Conceived by Santiago Calatrava, whose Milwaukee Art Museum design has become the symbol for Chicago’s northern neighbor, the Fordham Spire will be located just south of Navy Pier. The new Chicago skyscraper design will occupy just over two acres where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan. Like every other plan developed by the Spanish architect, the Fordham Spire has been met with praise from the architecture community and a mix of awe and curiosity from the general public. Developers are calling the style “poetic” and “crystalline,” and it definitely reflects Calatrava’s other work, which is known for its visual sense of movement and its insistence on airiness.

Although it won’t threaten either the in-progress Burj Dubai or Al Burj superstructures for the title of “world’s tallest skyscraper,” at a height of over 600 meters, the Fordham Spire would surpass both the box-shouldered Sears Tower in Chicago and the proposed dual-perspective Freedom Tower in New York to become America’s tallest building. Its roof would rise to somewhere around 1500 feet, with the tip of the spire then climbing to a summit of 2000 feet – over two hundred feet taller than the quasi-obelisk planned for the Big Apple.

By using a central core design and “turning” each floor by about 2 degrees, Calatrava achieves the twist look. But the new Chicago skyscraper design isn’t just meant to wow people from the outside. This special method of stacking the floors allows for minimal interior column and more top-to-bottom glass. It’s a design concept he has already employed with his residential “turning torso” building in Malmo, Sweden, though the Fordham Spire is much more dramatic.

As of March 2006, the Fordham Spire has overcome several hurdles and received a stamp of approval from Chicago’s city council. A completion date for the new Chicago skyscraper design tentatively sits at 2010.

A flurry of inquiries into the 250 planned condo units has already begun, and Chicago residents, though still developing a reaction to the design, are largely delighted to know that the Freedom Tower in New York City will not outdo them. For the “City of Broad Shoulders,” this design is sleeker and more exotic than expected, but it seems possible that the Fordham Spire may become to Chicago what the Calatrava extension of the city art museum became to Milwaukee: a bright and thoughtful addition to the Lake Michigan waterscape.

But if you think it looks like a birthday candle or a tampon, wellâÂ?¦.I won’t entirely disagree with you.

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