When it was first completed in 1973, the Aon Center was the tallest building in Chicago and the fourth tallest in the world. Though its stardom was soon dashed by the completion of the nearby Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) later that year, the Edward Durell Stone-designed building continues to maintain a significant presence in the city’s skyline. In light of its proximity to Millennium Park and other tourist attractions in Downtown Chicago, city officials considered adding an exterior elevator and observation deck to the 1,136-foot-tall Aon Center in May 2018 that swiftly gained approval, as AN has previously reported. Two years later, Aon Center general manager Matthew Amato has confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that a $185 million budget is being secured towards the construction of the tower’s additions by the end of this year, and that the project is expected to be completed by Spring 2022. 601W Companies, a developer and owner of Aon Center, will team with Legends, the New York-based firm responsible for One World Trade Observatory in Manhattan, to develop and later co-own the project. The two settled on a set of designs from Solomon Cordwell Buenz that will only minimally interfere with the sleek, minimal details of the late-modernist tower. Visitors will be able to access the observatory deck by first entering a new 9,000-square-foot pavilion to be built on the ground floor, followed by a south-facing glass elevator that will provide largely unobstructed views of the city. The observation deck will replace the mechanical services space on its 82nd floor and will include two floors of amenities, including an event space, restaurant, bar, and the Sky Summit, a thrill ride that will take visitors over the building’s edge in a glass-enclosed tube for up to 40 seconds. 601W Companies estimates that the deck's various amenities could generate up to $40 million in annual revenue—far more than could be received from treating the top two floors as rentable office space. The observation deck, yet to be named, will become the third in the city (including 360 Chicago at the Hancock Center and the Skydeck at Willis Tower). The additions reflect the second major alteration to the building since 1973; the first was in 1992 to replace the Italian Carrara marble facade with Mount Airy white granite at an estimated cost of $80 million.
Posts tagged with "Observation Towers":
The husband-and-wife team behind the London Eye observation wheel plans to one-up themselves with an observation tower in Brighton, UK that's about 100 feet taller. For the seaside town, David Marks and Julia Barfield of Marks Barfield Architects have created Brighton i360, a 531-foot-tall, futuristic-structure that lifts visitors up high above the English Channel. The project—currently under construction and described as the first "vertical cable car"—is defined by its glass “observation pod” that rises up a main tower and accommodates up to 200 people. “We wanted to create a similar sort of visitor experience with a view that slowly unfolds as you gradually ascend, but with an enhanced more spacious pod enabling guests to walk around to enjoy the 360 degree views,” David Marks said in a statement on his firm's website. That glass pod also serves as a pretty slick party space as it is decked out with a sound and entertainment systems and a bar. At the base of the tower is a one-story glass podium and patio that includes a café, shops, restrooms, and an exhibition space for local artists. Brighton i360 is expected to open in 2016 and attract 7,000,000 visitors a year. [h/t Gizmag]
Phoenix-based developer Novawest wanted a new signature project for the city's downtown, an observation tower from which to admire the far-off mountain ranges and dramatic Southwestern sunsets, so Bjarke Ingels proposed to scoop out the spiraled negative-space of New York's Guggenheim Museum rotunda and plant it 420 feet above downtown Phoenix. Ingels' "Pin," a 70,000 square foot observation tower is elegant in its simple form, a ball on a stick, indeed evoking some far away Gulliver on a real-life version of Google maps finding his way to the Sun Belt. In another light, Phoenicians could ostensibly see a larger-than-life Chupa Chup or an upended mascara brush, but that's the beauty of pure form, right? Visitors will be able to ride one of three glass elevators up the reinforced concrete core to the top of the Pin's observation spiral, where flexible exhibition, retail, and recreation spaces will showcase panoramic views of the surrounding region and descend, round and round, to a restaurant in the lower portions of the sphere. "Like the monsoons, the haboobs, and the mountains of the surrounding Arizonian landscape, the Pin becomes a point of reference and a mechanism to set the landscape in motion through the movement of the spectator." Bjarke Ingels, principal at BIG, said in a statement. "Like the Guggenheim Museum of New York offers visitors a unique art experience descending around its central void, the motion at the Pin is turned inside-out allowing visitors to contemplate the surrounding city and landscape of Phoenix. Like a heavenly body hovering above the city, the Pin will allow visitors to descend from pole to pole in a dynamic three dimensional experience seemingly suspended in midair."