Tall Buildings

Donald Trump was in Chicago on Sept. 24 to attend a ceremony marking the city's newest landmark — the 92-story Trump International Hotel & Tower. It was a rather subdued affair, covered by the local newspapers and TV stations, but it was not a big deal.

Apparently, a new tall building in Chicago no longer is major news. There are several stunning skyscrapers downtown; it is a city of exciting, sometimes breathtaking architecture. While the Trump Tower could be any office building or hotel from my vantage point in Penton Media's office downtown, it is quite stunning from across the Chicago River.

The real news, other than the fact that the tower has Trump's name on it, is that it got built at all. Even Trump, usually a fountain of positivity, expressed dismay over the financial crisis that has hit the United States and much of the rest of the world and its impact on the construction of large projects.

“The days of building buildings like this are over,” Trump was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying during the ceremony. “It will take 10 years to finance buildings like this.”

Never prone to understatement, Trump may be right. There certainly is ample evidence in Chicago and elsewhere to support his fatalistic view about the future of skyscrapers. Just to the east of Trump's new building, in which 25 percent of the units remain unsold, a large hole has been dug for the foundation of The Chicago Spire, a spectacular ultramodern hotel-condo building designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

At 2,000 ft and with 150 floors, it would be the second-tallest residential building in the world and stand taller than Chicago's Sears Tower and New York City's upcoming Freedom Tower. While 30 percent of The Chicago Spire's units are pre-sold, the developer has put the project on hold. In addition, construction on the 90-story Waterview Tower and the Shangri-La Hotel, just across the river from the Trump Tower, was halted several months ago.

It is not just Chicago that has been impacted by the dire state of the economy. Las Vegas is taking a pounding, too. Work on several mega casino-hotel projects has been halted indefinitely.

Is the era of the tall building over as Trump says? Obviously, time will tell. What do you think?

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