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A striking new skyscraper could fill the site of the failed Chicago Spire

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

The Chicago Spire, a proposed 116-story building that would have been built at 400 N Lake Shore Drive, failed to get off of the ground after financial difficulties derailed its construction. All that remains of the fabled skyscraper is a gigantic, 76-foot deep hole that was meant to serve as the building's foundation. It's an eyesore (one that hasn't exactly been remedied by the trees the property's owners planted around it), but a developer has designed a towering new skyscraper that could one day fill the property.

Curbed Chicago revealed renderings of the Gateway Tower, a conceptual 2,000-foot-tall building designed by architectural firm Gensler (which is responsible for the world's second-tallest building, the Shanghai Tower). Propped up by a structural brace that would extend across Lake Shore Drive to DuSable Park and serve as a public entry, the proposed skyscraper resembles a boomerang that has embedded itself on the banks of Lake Michigan, dwarfing the nearby Lake Point Tower. 

Gensler has conceived the Gateway Tower as a mixed-use building (unlike the Chicago Spire, which was intended to be a giant pile of condominiums), including condos, hotels, retailers and a skydeck that would allow tourists and residents to view the city from a vantage point perched nearly 2,000 feet above the ground. Opening up parts of the building to the public would be an attempt to avoid the fate of the Chicago Spire, which relied solely on interest in its pricy condos to generate income and investments for its developer.

While the Gateway Tower's striking design and viability as a tourist attraction are intriguing, the building itself is purely conceptual and would have to surmount several regulatory hurdles (it would encroach on Chicago Park District property) if it was actually to be built. Still, it's nice to know that architects are hard at work coming up with ways to cover that unsightly hole in the middle of our city.

Photograph: Courtesy Gensler

Photograph: Courtesy Gensler

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