Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Chicago Spire

In searching for something to write about for this weeks blog, I came across plans for the project of the Chicago Spire. The Chicago Spire is a skyscraper that was under construction at the junction of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. It was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and if completed, it will stand at 2,000 feet (610 m), and with 150 floors, it will be among the tallest freestanding structures in North America. Plans for the spire were first announced in May 2005 by Christopher T. Carley of the Fordham Company and the project was supported by many Chicagoans and city officials.

However, due to the late 2000's recession, Carley failed to obtain crucial financial support to undergo the build. First of all, this really shows the huge knock on effect the recession has had on big construction business. But in light of our class discussion I got to thinking about this project because of the inspiration and ideas for its design. After talking about local culture and buildings of cultural significance like Monticello, DC's NMAI, the Chicago spire stuck out as an interesting building to analyse. Its design was influenced by nature and has been described by the architect as a smoke spiral coming from a campfire near the Chicago River lit by Native Americans indigenous to the area. This I think is an interesting link that makes me think of the time and effort put into the design of the NMAI in DC, and how its exterior perceived its unwavering role of representing native American culture in amongst DC's "capital government setting". The spire has been dubbed a giant "drill bit" by the public and the media have likened it to a "tall twisting tree" and a "blade of grass". Its design and shape also alludes to an obelisk, the ancient egyptian construction used in DC; the Washington Monument.
This may be going off on a tangent, but it seems to me that the spire could be Chicago's cultural reaction to 2001's terrorist attack of the twin towers. No doubt many will believe that any towering structure built in the US is now a reactionary tactic to show the world that America is still on top and will keep fighting back with their culture to defend their history of the American dream and unwavering American pride and patriotism.
On December 9th, 2009, The Sun-Times announced that construction could be resumed due to increase in funding and construction will be finished in 2012. Here's hoping Chicago.

here is a short video animation of the spire-

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