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Kamin unveils latest design for Calatrava's Chicago Spire





Developer Garrett Kelleher decides to go public with rendering of Santiago Calatrava's latest design for the 2,000-foot-high Chicago Spire.

 -by Lynn Becker






In this Sunday's, January 21st edition of the Chicago Tribune, architecture critic Blair Kamin has a great story that unveils Santiago Calatrava's latest design for the 2,000-foot-high Chicago Spire. The publishing of the design comes after Shelbourne Development Chairman Garrett Kelleher withheld the rendering from a presentation made last Monday, January 15th to a packed meeting of the Grant Park Advisory Council, and then appeared to be trying to deny that it existed. The very next evening, Kamin was asked by Kelleher to join himself and Calatrava for a discussion of the project's evolution.

Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect - 3 designs

The newest version does not restore the antenna that originally created the project's spire, whose intricately intertwined design, Keller said on Monday, "wouldn’t even work as an antenna.  If you look at any antenna - on the Sears or the Hancock - the structures themselves have to be at least 40 feet apart to make sense." However, as opposed to heavily thickened version of the building unveiled in early December, where occupied structure replaced the antenna spire for the top 500 feet, Calatrava's latest design returns a substantial taper to the tower, as well as, according to Kamin, replacing a reduced 270 degree rotation from base to top with the original full 360.

On Monday, partnering architect Bruce Toman of Perkins+Will said that Calatrava Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architecthad also modified the tower's twist. "Originally he had six points, Toman said of Calatrava's first design. “And he realized that the whole structure got more interesting by making seven points, an odd number.  And that subtle change made the tower look even more slender."

As is depressingly usual with the Tribune, their web version of the story includes none of the images accompanying the print edition, no images at all.

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In this case, though, that's more than made up for with a top-notch Flash presentation, produced by Bonnie Trafelet, which couples Kamin's narration to a sequence of images that include a wide range of Calatrava sketches - from one with four iterations of the tower's profile, to those of the five-story lobby - drawn by Calatrava complete with Calder mobile - with its cable-supported glass walls and arching concrete columns that connect the exterior columns to the core like a succession of snap-proof wishbones. There's even a photo of the small brown snail shell that Calatrava pulled from his pocket to illustrate how, in Kamin's words, its "whirring, rhythmically complex, softly coiling shape" is “an inspiration for him to design the top of the building."

Think Washington Monument cross-bred with Frank Lloyd Mollusk.

What remains to be revealed is how much of the 3,000,000 square feet of the early December plan is carved away by the renewed taper, and how this will effect the number of apartments, which on Monday Kelleher said was oscillating between 1,350 and 1,000, as well how it will affect the final cost of the project. Kamin reports that March is the probable date for public hearings on the project.

Spire developer releases latest drawings - Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, January 21
A new twist - Santiago Calatrava's Chicago Spire - Flash presentation, Chicago Tribune, January 21

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© Copyright 2007 Lynn Becker All rights reserved.

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