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.
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:
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.