Hate Lucas on the Lakefront? This Will Make You Lose Your Mind

Drawing of the Chicago Tower, courtesy of Goettsch Partners

Drawing of the Chicago Tower, courtesy of Goettsch Partners

This is the fourth episode of our Chicago Neverbuilt series where we celebrate the work of great architects that, for one reason or another, failed to make the transition from imagination to reality.

Drawing of the Chicago Tower, courtesy of Goettsch PartnersThere are a lot of people foaming at the mouth lately about the placement of the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.  Some people hate the design.  Some people hate the location.  Some people hate both.  For those of you not happy with the idea of having the museum replace a surface parking lot, it could have been worse.  Much worse.

Let’s climb into the wayback machine and remember the early days of this century when a project called the Chicago Tower  (525 East McFetridge Drive) was still on the table.

It was designed by friends-of-the-blog Goettsch Partners who generously supplied us with a monograph containing the details of this project.  Essentially, it was going to be a giant transmission tower serving the needs of all Chicagoland, like Skytree in Tokyo, or the Fernsehturm in Berlin.  Right now, broadcast antennae are scattered all over the place— Willis Tower, the Hancock Center,  even the Aon Center.  Back around 2002 someone had the bright idea of putting all of those different signals in one place, so that people could all aim a single antenna in a single direction and get all of the broadcast stations.  New York almost did it after 9/11, but that plan fell apart, as did this one for Chicago.

It would have been a very interesting tower.  As described in the Goettsch book:

Poured-in-place concrete structure clad with fiberglass panels to provide a finished surface that is also transparent to transmitting equipment; tuned mass damper to control horizontal movement induced by wind loads; world’s fastest elevators, at approximately 38 miles per hour; heavy emphasis on life safety, with four stair towers and areas of refuge every 220 feet

More interesting in today’s context is that this tower would have risen immediately adjacent to where George Lucas wants to build his museum.  It would have obliterated the two surface parking lots that preservation groups are now trying so hard to protect and covered them with grass.

The Chicago Tower would have been 1,600-feet tall and sported a multi-level observation deck, topped with three antennae towers climbing to 2,000 feet.

Location: 200 North Michigan Avenue, South Loop


Author: Editor

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

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