Sears Tower: The tallest building in western hemisphere

Skyline Architecture-Sears Tower West Facade

The Sears Tower, officially named Willis Tower, is the head icon of Chicago’s Skyline, its 108 floors dominate the city views from almost every corner. At the time of its completion in 1973 was the tallest building on earth, holding this rank for over 25years!

In 1969, Sears Roebuck & Co. was the larger retailer in the world when its executives decided to consolidate its approximately 350,000 employees distributed throughout the Chicago area into one single building. With the immediate space demands of 3 million square feet and predictions for future growth, Sears commissioned Chicago architects: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill -SOM- to design the largest office building in the world.​

The great architecture significance of this tower it not only came for its record-breaking height but for its innovative structure system, it was the first building ever designed with a bundle tube structure!​

​And what does it mean?
For the first time in history  “buildings no longer needed to be boxlike in appearance: they could become sculpture.” Instead of one tube, a building consiststed of several tubes tied together to resist the lateral forces, which was highly efficient in economic terms.

​The Sears tower was designed as nine square “tubes”, each essentially a separate building, clustered in a 3×3 matrix. All nine tubes would rise up to the 50th floor of the building, where the northwest and southeast tubes end, the remaining seven continue up ending each one on a different height, as the following diagram shows:
Skyline Architecture -Sears Tower Design ConceptSkyline Architecture - Sears Tower Height comparation

Sears Tower design concept + “Burj Khalifa”  vs “Willis Tower”
Both buildings designed by SOM

Sears’ optimistic growth projections were not met, and today after several buy-sell processes Willis Holding Group is the major space owner of the building, giving its name to the tower.

The breathtaking Skydeck

​Besides the interesting architecture facts, the greatest thing about the tower is that it has a public skydeck! You can go up to the top and be amazed by the 360º views of Chicago, Lake Michigan and the Illinois plain, on a clear day you can see up to 50miles and 4states!
We recommend to plan your visit just before sunset, so you can enjoy the views at day light, at colorful dawn and at night time. It will leave you without words! Check their website for additional information and costs here usually the entrance ticket is around 18$
Skyline Architecture - Sears Tower Panoramic view from the Skydeck

Flabbergasting panoramic view – Skydeck Willis Tower
Skyline Architecture -Sears Tower Glass Boxes
Glass boxes – Skydeck Willis Tower

skyline-architecture-sears-tower-skydeck-box.jpg
Glass boxes from Skydeck
Skyline Architecture- Sears Tower Down view from the skydeck
Down view from Skydeck
SONY DSC
Downtown day view from Skydeck
SONY DSC
Downtown night view from Skydeck

We thought it was quite impressive to be up there!
Enjoy your Sears Tower visit and feel free to share your experience with the Skyliners! Safe travels!!

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2 thoughts on “Sears Tower: The tallest building in western hemisphere

  1. Pingback: Aon Center: Elegance and Contrast | Skyline Architecture Blog

  2. Pingback: 23 Buildings You Shouldn’t Miss in Chicago If You Are An Architect | Virginia Duran

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