Renderings of the Chicago Spire show a soaring
grooved spike rising out of the ground, a tapering
spiral contrail made of metal and glass. Designed
by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava,
the Spire was supposed to be the tallest building in
North America. But its construction site sits silent,
its lone feature a giant round chasm whose subterranean strata make it look as if it’s waiting to
receive the screw-in end of a gigantic lightbulb.
From its inception, the Spire’s development was
fraught with uncertainty. Its original developer was
forced to sell the building site in 2006 when financing failed to materialize. Dublin, Ireland-based
Shelbourne Development Ltd. took over the project,
but inherited troubles anew when the company
learned it did not control a key parcel of property
required for building. That, in turn, triggered a lawsuit from neighboring property owners.
Mr. Calatrava has suspended operations on the
project, claiming he’s owed $11.34 million for work
performed, and finally filed a lien against Shelbourne
for that amount. The project’s architecture firm,
Perkins and Will Inc., followed
suit to the tune of US$4.85
Garrett Kelleher of Shelbourne told The New York Times
it will take about $1.75 billion to
complete the Spire and says he
has had conversations with
numerous financial institutions
around the world over the last
18 months. “There’s no financing available to build the Spire today,” said Mr.
Kelleher. “It’s a matter of waiting. And that’s what
the plan is.”
The answer may come later in the year when
the city learns whether it will be the site of the
2016 Olympics. “If Chicago lands the Olympics, it
will certainly be a boost to the local economy,” Mr.
Kelleher told the newspaper.
Olympics or not, it’s starting to look like the
Spire may be nothing more than a castle in the
IMAGES COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA
>>ON THE MAP: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA
APRIL 2009 PM NETWORK