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The Chicago Spire

Updated on November 15, 2008
The Chicago Spire - 150 floors
The Chicago Spire - 150 floors

The 150-floor, 2,000 ft. tall skyscraper called THE CHICAGO SPIRE is under construction in Chicago, Illinois at 400 N. Lakeshore Drive, 60611. Construction began June 25, 2007 and the estimated finish date is 2011.

Rendering of the Chicago Spire as it will be seen from Lake Michigan.

The Spire will surpass Chicago's own Sears Tower, currently at 1,450 feet tall, and New York's upcoming Freedom Tower, planned to be 1,776 feet tall, to become North America's tallest tower. The current design also will surpass the height of the CN Tower in Toronto to become North America's tallest free-standing structure. The Chicago Spire would also surpass the Q1 in Queensland, the Eureka Tower in Melbourne, and the Princess Tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to become the world's tallest all-residential building. Other world records, though, will by that year likely rest with the Burj Dubai, currently under construction in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Chicago Spire

The architect of the Spire, Spain’s Santiago Calatrava, originally conceptualized the project and after securing financing, it was announced in July 2005. Although not with out difficulty did the original developer fail to acquire necessary financing and a new group, Garrett Kelleher of Shelbourne Development Group did take the project over. The Chicago Spire’s design has undergone three major revisions since the public announcement. Originally known as the Fordham Spire, the building was to have just 115 floors and include a hotel and condominiums and a broadcast antenna mast.

The Foundation
The Foundation
Condo Unit Rendering
Condo Unit Rendering

Opposition from some neighborhood residents originated from concerns with the continued “Manhattanization” of downtown Chicago. With increased congestion and lack of sunlight do to the Spire’s cast shadow as the Spire will be built at the city’s front doorstep, Lake Michigan’s waterfront. Donald Trump immediately voiced opposition to the building, stating that the structure would be a target for terrorists with lake access. His current project, however, the 92 floor, Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, is also a skyscraper that is currently under construction just a few blocks west of the Chicago Spire site and would be in direct competition with the Chicago Spire as the World’s tallest residential structure.

The public’s view, although they consider the building’s design as a giant “drill-bit” alla Black & Decker® and Home Depot®, is as always positive and enthusiastic. But aesthetically, as with many of his designs, Calatrava has been inspired by themes and designs in nature for the tall, twisting skyscraper. For the design of the building, he likened the structure to an imaginary smoke spiral coming from a campfire near the Chicago River lit by Native Americans indigenous to the area, and also related the building's newly designed pinnacle to the "graceful" and "rotating forms" of a snail shell. An interesting vision indeed, as the penthouse owner will need extra special sunglasses living so close to the sun, they can start there own campfire from sun refraction (lol). The penthouse reportedly will sell for $40 million dollars. The rest of the remaining 1,199 individual luxury condo units in the colossal structure will obviously too, have prices lower then the penthouse but still have price tags containing at least six zeros too.

1st Penthouse owner

"Topper" the Giraffe
"Topper" the Giraffe

On September 29, 2008 a contract was signed by billionaire, Ty Warner of “Beanie Babies®” fame. He just purchased a penthouse unit in the Chicago Spire tower for $40,000,000, that’s forty million dollars! His condo will be on the 140th floor. Mr. Warner’s company, “Beanie Babies®,” is headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.


Building Information:

Location- 400 N Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, Illinois

Status- Under construction

Groundbreaking- June 25, 2007

Estimated completion- 2011 (est.)

Opening- 2011 (est.)

Estimated construction cost- $2,400,000,000 – 2 billion 400 million dollars

Use- 1,200 Luxury Residential Units

Penthouse Unit Price- $40m

Observation floor- none is planned at present


Ground to Roof- 2,000 feet (609.6 m)

Technical details

Floor count- 150 stories

Floor area- 3,000,000 square feet

(278,709 sq. m)


Architect- Santiago Calatrava

Perkins and Will


Engineer- Thornton Tomasetti

Contractor- Case Foundation

Developer, Shelbourne Developmen


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    • PaulieWalnuts profile image

      PaulieWalnuts 3 years ago from Chicago

      After a few years languishing in bankruptcy 'The Chicago Spire' will rise again 2/7/14. The foundation has been prepared previously so hopefully its smooth sailing .

    • PaulieWalnuts profile image

      PaulieWalnuts 9 years ago from Chicago

      I think the original design with antenna and part hotel was nixed in part because of delays and financial problems. Then a changing of the project name from FORDHAM TOWER. The new building use calls for 100% residential and NO antenna on top. The antenna, aesthetically, might look a little funny to a architecht. But think of the revenue an antenna could generate, plus it looks cool....what do the architechs know? Anyway the entire project is on hold right now because of the economy and because of an architects' 11.3 millio dollar lien on the construction site as of Oct. '08.

    • profile image

      Candelario 9 years ago

      What was wrong with the original design with an antenna?It looked so sleek and majestic. Forget about worrying about terrorism! I can't believe we in Chicago can't think big and get the WORLD's tallest building like in Dubai,United Emirates and Beijing.

    • PaulieWalnuts profile image

      PaulieWalnuts 9 years ago from Chicago

      It is amazing isn't it? I'm just sorry, that at present, there are no plans for an observation floor, none is planned. Maybe, the powers that be will change their minds and add this awesome view from way up there. But I doubt it, the verticle real estate up there is going for $40,000,000 for an 8,000 square foot unit. At those prices an observation floor would have to charge about $50-$100 dollars or more per person. But I think that price would be doable. Sears Tower charges about $17 and is not a residential building. The Spire which is a planned 100% residence, would have many more privacy and safety issues to deal with. Not to mention the legal and physical logistics of handling the public.

    • solarshingles profile image

      solarshingles 9 years ago from london

      Paulie, this is an amazing building structure! Such a modern symmetrical beauty, which is going to become a true icon of the Chicago's landscape. Proximity of the lake and parks are making Chicago Spire even more well presented and magical. I especially like the second video.