Chicago Architecture Info
The Chicago Spire
Formerly known as The Fordham Spire
400 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60611
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The September, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The March, 2007 design for the Chicago Spire. Image © Santiago Calatrava
A previous version of the Chicago Spire proposal. Image © Santiago Calatrava
A previous version of the Chicago Spire proposal. Image © Santiago Calatrava
The home of the Chicago Spire as it was before construction began: a vacant lot along Lake Shore Drive.
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Basic Information
Designed by Santiago Calatrava
Type Skyscraper
Floors: 150
Maximum height 2,000 feet/600 meters
Maximum depth 80 feet/24 meters
Neighborhood: Near North Side
More Information
  • Residences: 1,194
  • Levels above ground: 150
  • Levels below ground: 7
  • Building caissons: 34
  • Parking garage caissons: 98
  • Parking spaces: 1,500
  • Foundation concrete: 200,000 cubic yards
  • Foundation steel: 70,000 tons
  • Designed by: Santiago Calatrava, who was also the lead architect and engineer on the project.
  • Architect of record: Perkins + Will.
  • Developer: Shelbourne Development Group
  • The structural engineer of record: Thornton Tomasetti.
  • This building was originally commissioned by the Fordham Company.
  • The building was designed to be made primarily out of concrete.
  • The twisting exterior was designed to deflect wind.
  • The building was designed with two emergency stairwells, in response to the 9/11 attacks in New York.
  • The foundation rests on 34 caissons drilled into the bedrock 110 feet underground. 20 caissons would support the middle of the structure while 14 are arranged in a ring around the perimeter.
  • This plot of land was originally zoned for two towers: one 35 stories, and one 55 stories tall. Because of its height, the Spire's density is less than the original zoning. It also appeals to bird rescue groups which say the single, taller, tower will have less of an impact on bird migration than two wider towers.
  • The spire was originally planned with 250 hotel condominiums. This was reduced to 150 in order to reduce the impact on traffic in the area. The hotel was eventually removed from the plan in late 2006.
  • The spire is expected to have up to 1,193 residences.
  • The building's penthouse will be two-stories tall and have 10,293 square feet of space.
  • The spire's penthouse would have been the world's highest residence.
  • Access to the tower will be from Lower Lake Shore Drive to reduce the impact on traffic in the neighborhood.
  • As part of the development, riverwalks were going to be extended along the Chicago River and Ogden Slip.
  • Within three months of its announcement, 800 people had contacted the developer wanting to buy condominiums in the building.
  • A parking garage was going to be constructed to the building's north and connected directly to Lake Shore Drive to reduce street level traffic congestion.
  • Plans for townhouses to line the base of this building were scrapped in favor of a circular plaza and five-story glass atrium.
  • The lobby atrium will have a ceiling 53-feet high.
  • There is no sky lobby -- 14 passenger elevators connect directly from the main lobby to the residential floors.
  • This property formerly had the address 410-450 North Lake Shore Drive.
  • This property formerly had the address 420 East North Water Street.
  • The cost of the project is unknown. It was originally estimated at $2,400,000,000.00, however in May 2008 a representative of the developer said that figure is inaccurate. However, she refused to provide a corrected number to the Chicago Tribune.
  • There are structural transition floors every 30 to 40 stories to transfer stress to the core and help keep the building rigid.
  • In an unusual move the parking garage is being built from the top down instead of from the bottom up. This will help speed construction of the tower.
  • At the time of its completion, this building will be the world's tallest all-residential building.
  • At the time of its completion, this building will have the world's highest occupied floor; even higher than the highest occupied floor in Dubai's Burj Dubai, which will retain the overall title of world's tallest building.
  • January, 2006: In revised documents filed with the City of Chicago, the roof height of this building was raised from 1,458 feet / 444 meters to 1,550 feet / 472 meters the top of the roof, and 1,600 feet / 488 meters to the top of the water tank.
  • March 16, 2006 - Chicago's city planning commission approves the construction of the Fordham Spire.
  • May 22, 2006: The Chicago <i>Sun-Times</i> reports that buyers put $20,000 deposits down on 92 of the building's 300 condominiums in two weeks of promotion.
  • July 20, 2006: Following reports that the building's developer was having trouble securing financing, the property is sold to Garrett Kelleher, chairman of Shelbourne Development, for $64,000,000. Kelleher immediately doubled the building's cost estimate, and proposed groundbreaking for Spring of 2007. Kelleher's interest in Chicago goes back to his youth. He lived in the city for ten years after college.
  • November 15, 2006: It is announced that Shelbourne Development Group is taking over the project, and the building's name is changed to the Chicago Spire.
  • March 15, 2007: The latest version of the spire plan is presented to people who live in the neighborhood. It includes the development of an abandoned plot of land east of Lake Shore Drive into a manicured public space, and a potential bicycle and pedestrian bridge spanning the Chicago River east of Lake Shore Drive. The developers stated that they hope to have the project completed 40 months after construction begins.
  • April 19, 2007: The City of Chicago's Plan Commission recommends that this building be approved for construction by the city's zoning committee. The <i>Chicago Tribune</i> claims construction costs could top $2.4 billion.
  • April 26, 2007: The city zoning committee approved this building.
  • May 9, 2007: The Chicago city council approved the construction of this building. When completed, it will be the tallest building in North America. As part of the deal, the developer will kick in $9 million of the $12 million needed to construct DuSable Park.
  • June 25, 2007: <i>Crain's Chicago Business</i> reports that the contract for caisson work has been awarded to Case Foundation Company. This puts hope into backers of the project, and quiets some of its critics who didn't believe it would happen. The Crain's article states that Case will build 34 caissons 120 feet deep by the first quarter of 2008.
  • July, 2007: Construction of his building begins. There is no formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, just the arrival of crews and machinery on the site which are now busy working on the project.
  • October 1, 2007: Portions of Lake Shore Drive are closed while exit and entrance ramps are built to connect the Chicago Spire with the highway.
  • November 7, 2007: <i>Crain's Chicago Business</i> reports that neighboring townhomes will sink about two inches by the time the Spire is completed. The developer calls the damage cosmetic, but homeowners plan to sue.
  • June 4, 2008: The Chicago Tribune reports this building will be completed in 2012. The same day, the lead engineer on the construction site told WGN Television 2011.
  • September 19, 2008: The Chicago Sun-Times reports that construction work on the Spire is expected to slow down, but still continue, because of recent economic turmoil in the American and global credit markets.
  • September 20, 2008: A group of people who purchased homes in this building signed their names on the foundation support rings deep below ground.
  • September 25, 2008: WGN-TV incorrectly reports that construction of this building is on hold. The television station cites a Chicago Tribune article. The Tribune article actually says that sales efforts are on hold during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and reiterates that construction has slowed, which was reported by the Sun-Times the week before.
  • September 30, 2008: WGN Television reported that the 10,000 square foot two-level penthouse on floors 141 and 142 was sold to Ty Warner, the man who invented Beanie Babies. No selling price was disclosed, but the asking price was $40 million.
  • October 8, 2008: According to Crain's Chicago Business, architect of record Perkins & Will, filed a $4,850,000 lien against the developer for unpaid work.
  • October 17, 2008: Crain's Chicago Business reports that architect Santiago Calatrava stopped working on this project and filed a lien in the ammount of $11,340,000 against the developer for unpaid work.
  • August 14, 2009: Crain's Chicago Business reported that Bank of America sued the developer of this project to recover nearly $5 million in loans.
  • December 9, 2009: The Sun-Times reported that financing is in place that may allow construction to resume on the building.
  • May 15, 2010: The Spire's sales office in the NBC Tower closed after settling an settling an eviction suit over unpaid rent in court.