... Oh, I totally want to do this! I may have to go to Chicago ("my kind of town") for a weekend just to have this experience. The Husband & I once stood on the top of the World Trade Center, not the observation deck, but on the open air roof, on a beautiful October evening at sunset. It was our 20th anniversary. The experience was thrilling & romantic as we watched all the buildings in mid-town turn pink from the sunset. It had rained that morning & then cleared, & we could see way up the Hudson river & into NJ. The Husband says he would want to skip this experience. Who will go with me?
The Sears/Willis building is the grandest tower in a city known for its great architecture, The Willis Tower has served for decades as a mighty symbol of architectural prowess & the triumph of engineering. Just a few years after pioneering the trussed tube construction that allowed the 100-story John Hancock Center to be erected a couple of dozen blocks away, the same architects & engineers came up with another revolutionary construction. The original plan called for a much smaller tower, but the retailer was eventually convinced to concentrate its employees from seven other buildings into the lower portion of the building while leasing out the rest to other companies. It is fortunate that Sears listened to the architects & developers, because it is no understatement to call the result one of the most important buildings on the face of the Earth. As Sears financial fortunes changed, it moved out of this building & to a squat office park in the suburbs. By 2003 Sears had let the naming rights to the building expire. It wasn't until 2009 that the Willis Group consolidated a number of its regional offices into this building, & gained the naming rights in the process. As part of a larger renovation of the "Skydeck" observation level, four small outdoor observation pods were added to the 103rd floor. The transparent glass "Ledges" were designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the same architecture firm that designed the tower back in the 1970s. Each viewing platform extends out from the tower a little over four feet & is constructed from three layers of half-inch thick glass with a weight capacity of five tons - two tons more than is called for in the city's building code. The ledges are retractable & placed on the west side of the building 1,353 feet above ground level.