Posts Tagged ‘Willis Tower’

New World Trade Center Is Rising From the Ashes

Monday, September 12th, 2011

In the nearly 10 years since the 9/11 tragedy, the site that once seemed impossible to redevelop is very much alive.  The World Trade Center redevelopment and the electrifying changes going on in Downtown New York City — 56,000 new residents (doubled that of before the attacks) and 300 new tenants (since 2005) must be onto something good. The site’s transformation has been “a piece of cake,” quipped Silverstein Properties CEO Larry Silverstein. We’re seeing a quick metamorphosis Downtown, and the impact on values is just beginning, according to Silverstein. “It’s nothing short of extraordinary.” The site will have as much impact (if not more) as Rockefeller Center was to New York City in the 1930s. 

Construction on 1 WTC and 7 WTC is progressing, the latter to be the last of the towers to collapse on 9/11 and the first to be rebuilt.  At 1,776 feet in terms of structural height, with the spire, 1 WTC will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, taller than the Willis Tower in Chicago. The structural steel for the 72-floor 4 WTC is currently at 40 stories with completion planned for 2013 and will have 2.3M RSF.  The expected completion dates for all of the WTC properties are: the National September 11 Memorial & Museum this year; 1 WTC, the vehicle security center, and 4 WTC in 2013; the transportation hub in 2014; 3 WTC in 2015; and 2 WTC beyond that.

According to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, “LMDC is charged with assisting New York City in recovering from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and ensuring the emergence of Lower Manhattan as a strong and vibrant community. The centerpiece of these efforts is the creation of a permanent Memorial remembering and honoring the thousands of innocent men, women and children lost in the terrorist attacks. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was created in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 by then-Governor George Pataki and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to help plan and coordinate the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan, defined as everything south of Houston Street.  . LMDC is charged with ensuring Lower Manhattan recovers from the attacks and emerges even better than it was before. The centerpiece of LMDC’s efforts is the creation of a permanent memorial honoring those lost, while affirming the democratic values that came under attack on September 11.”

 Writing on the Plots and Plans website, Carter B. Horsley says that “In the best of all cities, if not worlds, the design for a redeveloped World Trade Center site would include a memorial for the almost three thousand people lost in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that demolished the center’s twin towers, a decked-over West Street to reunite Battery Park City with the rest of Lower Manhattan, an expanded transportation terminal that would better unite Downtown with Midtown and the rest of the Metropolitan region, and a stunning new architectural project that would reassert Manhattan’s international architectural prominence. The redevelopment should also afford the city the opportunity to significantly bolster the downtown community’s cultural assets with the inclusion of some important institutions such as new homes for the Museum of the City of New York and the New York City Opera. Fortunately, the site is large enough to accommodate all of these components as well as meeting the contractual needs of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to replace the 11 million square feet of commercial and retail space that had existed on the site.”

“After 9/11, we found ourselves with a clear mission to rebuild 7 World Trade Center quickly,” said Robin Panovka, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, who provides legal counsel to Silverstein Properties. “But there were tremendous obstacles in the way, and it’s really how those obstacles were overcome, through cooperation with the Port Authority and the other players, that led to rebuilding of 7 World Trade Center and is now leading to the rebuilding of the larger site where the Twin Towers once stood,” Panovka said. “The result is this beautiful building, 7 World Trade Center, built partly on land the builder didn’t yet own or lease, without customary agreements among the major stakeholders.  It’s that kind of cooperation, vision and guts that led to the success of this building and is fueling the rebuilding of the whole World Trade Center site.” 

As the world’s largest and most complex construction site, the new World Trade Center will be home to a national memorial and museum of emotional and engineering complexity, the nation’s tallest skyscraper, a transportation hub that will serve 250,000 commuters every day, and upscale retail. It will also be home to thousands of workers moving into 10 million SF of new office space.

Chicago Is Greening its Roofs

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The City of Chicago has more than 500 green roofs, totaling seven million SF.  Ten years after Mayor Richard M. Daley ordered a roof garden planted on top of Chicago’s City Hall, the city has 500 green roofs downtown and scattered throughout its neighborhoods.  According to Department of Environment spokesman Larry Merritt, green roofs cover approximately seven million SF, although that represents less than one-tenth of one percent of Chicago’s 500,000 buildings.

City Hall’s roof garden, for example, has more than 100 plant species, including native prairie grasses.  The Willis Tower is now sporting a partial green roof, located on the 90th floor, that is tied down with steel ropes to protect it against the wind.  One of the city’s few green roofs that is open to the public tops the 555 West Monroe Street building that serves as PepsiCo’s headquarters.  Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Blair Kamin describes PepsiCo’s green roof as having “a swath of grass, tables and chairs, and four twirling wind turbines that are handsome enough to be kinetic sculpture.  This green roof isn’t an energy-saving toupee.  It’s integrated into the daily life of the city and the people.”

On the city’s Far North Side, an organic farm tops the Uncommon Ground restaurant at 1401 West Devon.  According to Kamin, the farm is “totally in sync with the restaurant and its embrace of the ‘locavore’ philosophy of locally produced food.”  Another green roof – visible from the CTA’s Red Line – tops an Aldi supermarket at 4450 North Broadway.  Kamin isn’t so impressed by this green roof, noting “It resembles a postage stamp.  Green roofs, it shows, can comply with the law without adding much beauty to the cityscape.”

Chicago’s Trump Tower “Grows”, Now Is the World’s Sixth Tallest Building

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Rules change makes Chicago’s Trump Tower the world’s sixth tallest.  Chicago’s high-profile skyscraper, the 92-story Trump International Tower & Hotel,  is now the world’s sixth tallest building – a step up from its previous status as the seventh.  The reason?  The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the group that sets height standards  for buildings, changed its measurement criteria.

The discarded standard required that a skyscraper’s height be determined by calculating the distance from the main sidewalk entrance to the building’s structural top or spire – antennae don’t count.  The revised standard measures the height from “the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance” to the building’s top.  This gave the Trump building an extra 27 feet, because its bottom is now defined as the entrance to the still unoccupied shops along the Chicago riverwalk instead of the main Wabash Avenue door.  This brought the tower’s height to 1388 feet, six inches – instead of the previous 1361 feet, six inches.

With the change, the Trump Tower is officially taller than Shanghai’s Jin Mao Building, which fell back to seventh place.  The ultimate winner will be the Burj Dubai, set to open January 4 at 2,600 feet tall.  That is the equivalent of stacking the John Hancock Center atop the Willis (nee Sears) Tower.  The last still reigns as the world’s fifth tallest building.

Can the Iconic Sears Tower Be Successfully Rebranded?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

how-now-brand-cow-150The renaming of Sears Tower points up one of the fundamental aspects of marketing – that of brand equity. By virtue of marketing and 25 years of public relations, the name Sears Tower has enormous cachet around the world and has brought the city the kind of exposure that can’t be quantified.

While the Sears Tower never had the romantic or nostalgic brand personality of the Empire State Building or the Wrigley Building, it was nevertheless a signifier of cosmopolitan cool and Midwestern expansiveness.

Then there’s the economic impact. I haven’t seen a study of how much iconic buildings add to an economy, but consider how much exposure the Petronas Towers brought the previously obscure city of Kuala Lumpur, or the expected windfall that Taipei will reap from Taipei 101 – the world’s tallest new building. Sears Tower did that for Chicago and part of its franchise is the iconic name.

Time will tell whether Willis Tower can build the same brand value.

Whatcha Talkin ‘Bout? Willis?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

One of Chicago’s most visited real estate icons — and the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building — is getting a new name.  And Chicagoans are not thrilled.gary_coleman1

Under the terms of a significant lease signed by global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., the 110-story, 1,450-foot-tall Sears Tower will change its name to the Willis Tower.

The London-based insurance giant plans to move nearly 500 Chicago-based associates into the trophy building, initially occupying more than 140,000 SF on multiple floors.  Located at 233 South Wacker Drive, the 3.8 million SF Willis Tower was designed by Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.  The Sears Tower has not occupied the building, which was completed in 1973, since its move to Hoffman Estates in 1992.

sears-tower-exterior3At $14.50 PSF, the lease provides a glimpse of how the recession has negatively impacted office rents.  Net rents for existing Class A West Loop space have dropped to about $21 PSF from $25 PSF a year ago.  Sears – uh, Willis — Tower rents tend to be lower because some potential users fear its September 11 factor.  The building’s owner is 233 S. Wacker LLC.  U.S. Equities Asset Management, LLC, provides leasing and management services.

According to an unscientific poll in the Chicago Tribune, 95.7 percent of respondents say they will always call the building the Sears Tower.  Just 4.3 percent plan to use the new name.  Sears may have moved to Hoffman Estates years ago, but it’s still a hometown company.