Trump Gets His Spire On

After months of delays and one false start, the spire is finally being installed on top of the Trump International Hotel and Tower downtown.

The last few weekends have been rainy, windy, snowy, or a combination of all three making installation impossible for construction crews.  There was also a scheduling conflict with the pilot who flies the sky crane.  Apparently there are only a few people in the country crazy skilled enough to pilot such a beast.

Here you can see the helicopter lowering the first additional piece of the spire onto the stub that’s been waiting at the top of the 92-story building for the last three months.  You can also see the Sears Tower looking on, disapprovingly at the shenanigans that Trump is employing to get his 1,362-foot height.  Trump Tower is allowed to count the spire as part of its height, while neither the Sears Tower nor the John Hancock Center are allowed to count their roof-mounted antennae.  The Trump Tower is really only 1,170 feet to the top of its mechanical penthouse.  The decorative spire accounts for nearly 200 feet of claimed height. It was one thing when the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur flew through this loophole.  It’s quite another thing when a neighbor pulls the same stunt.

As this is being written, the second piece of the spire has been fastened in place and the helicopter has gone off to get another piece.  Once all the parts are installed they will be covered with a white fiberglass sheath.  The Trump organization hasn’t released any details about whether the spire will be lit (not “lighted,” thankyouverymuch).  One would assume that the spire will be illuminated cheaply with flood lights like Sears and Hancock.  But maybe… just maybe… the fiberglass is thin enough that the rig could be illuminated from within.  It would be a more dramatic glowing element in the night sky, rather than another crazy needle.

At least the wait won’t be too long to find out what happens. The Tribune reports that once the spire is in place it will only take a couple of weeks to install the fiberglass and declare this puppy done.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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