Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Trump Tower Tour

October 21st, 2009
Report written by Katharina Holzapfel, CTBUH News Editor

. About 22 Chicago Conference delegates had the opportunity to attend an educational pre-conference tour of Chicago skyline’s newest super-tall tower, the Trump International Hotel & Tower. The tour began at the plaza located between the Wrigley Building and the Trump Tower where everybody agreed on how lucky they were to enjoy this tour on a mild sunny October day. Lucas Tryggestad, Associate Director of Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) led the tour, assisted by Kevin Rodenkirch (Architect), Dane Rankin and Jeremy Kirk (both Structural Engineers) of SOM. 

At 92 stories and a height of 1,389 feet (423 meters) to the top of the spire, the Trump Tower is now the 2nd Tallest Building in North America, following the Willis Tower which stands at 1,451 feet (442 meters) several blocks to the southwest of Trump. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, the innovative reinforced concrete structure designed by SOM, stands out in the downtown skyline next to its immediate neighbors, the Wrigley Building and 330 N Wabash. On the former site of the Chicago Sun Times, this shining building replaced the low box of the Sun Times with a towering stainless steel and glass, multi-tiered, curvilinear form sitting on the bend of the Chicago River at 401 N Wabash Avenue offering 360-degree city and river views.

Trump Tower viewed from the Michigan Avenue bridge

Lucas Tryggestad explained, that the team addressed the lengthy and complex construction process by rethinking the traditional model for mixed-use construction and commissioning, designing a plan of finishing the tower in five separate stages to enable early phased occupancy. The hotel welcomed its first guest in February 2008 while the structure topped out August 2008. The final spire section was placed in May 2009 to complete the exterior.  Thus The Trump Organization started to generate income for the property almost two years before the completion of construction.

Lucas Tryggestad (SOM) explaining the features of the Trump Tower Tower base from Wabash Avenue

According to Tryggestad, building construction, which began in March 2005, replaced all previous foundational supports from the Sun Times building with new caissons reaching deep into the bedrock. As the city was looking to improve the upper deck of Wabash Avenue around Trump Tower, the developer struck a deal with the city stating it would take care of the renovation of the roads, in exchange for an increase in the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). The choice of designing this tall building with a reinforced concrete frame for structural support reduces sway in the residential-hotel tower, with sway limited to within 3-4 inches at the top.

Tryggestad pointed out that the 92-story tower’s three setbacks relate to the heights of its neighbors: the Wrigley Building to the east, Marina city to the west and the IBM building next door. He also explained that the Trump Tower was originally designed to be the tallest building in the world at 2,000 feet, and to predominantly accommodate office function. The original meeting between Donald Trump and SOM to discuss the design took place on the 10th September 2001, the day before the attack on the World Trade Center New York. The world changed after this event, and so too did the intentions for this project. The intended height was lowered considerably and, in changing economic conditions, residential space was increasingly introduced into the mix until the tower eventually became a hotel-residential mixed use building, with no office function at all. This presented challenges during the design development phases of the project since the basic premise of the building (including the caissons and other construction elements already started on site) had been conceived for an office building.

View looking up at setbacks
View to the north from the 89th floor

The  completed Trump Tower program features 486 luxury condominium residences, 339 five-star hotel rooms in the Trump International Hotel, a world class signature restaurant with outdoor terrace, banquet and conference center facilities, a health club and spa, one thousand parking spaces, and 80,000 square feet of retail space along the Chicago Riverwalk. The project completes its enhancement of the downtown community with a 1.2 acre terraced park to the east of the tower and 500 feet of riverwalk connecting Michigan Avenue to State Street.

After an overview of the building design, the conference tour group progressed to the mechanical rooms in the basement where Mr. Tryggestad pointed out the cooling system which utilizes water from the Chicago River to cool the building. A computerized-control system regulates the temperature and ventilation of the tower, determining how much the air must be conditioned. Further, partial green roofs help to naturally insulate the building.

Riverwalk entry from the plaza (to be completed by the end of 2009) Mechanical Room/Cooling System

The tour next moved on to visit one of the 339 guestrooms and suites with custom designed furnishings, floor-to-ceiling windows and fully equipped kitchens.  After touring the luxurious guestroom the group had the possibility to take a first peek into the Grand Ballroom on the 16th floor which was the venue for the 2009 conference welcome reception. The group gathered outside the restaurant terrace for a group picture and enjoyed spectacular vistas of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and the Wrigley Clock.

Typical hotel suite
16th floor roof terrace
Grand Ballroom
Grand Ballroom lobby

Finally the tour leaders took the delegates to the highest residential space in Chicago, the 89th floor, featuring the 14,000 square foot penthouse apartment owned by the Trump Organization. With five bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, the penthouse features 12-18 foot ceiling heights and spacious areas for dwelling and entertaining. Observing the 360-degree Chicago views from the penthouse on this beautiful afternoon, it became clear that the Trump Tower sits directly at the heart of downtown Chicago and provides prime views of not just Lake Michigan, but of the entire city.

Tour guest marvel about the penthouse on the 89th floor of the Trump Tower

Lee Herzog (Lerch Bates, Inc.) and Hyung J. Won (BAUM Architects) enjoying the view of the penthouse on the 89th floor

The CTBUH wishes to extend their thanks to Lucas Tryggestad, Kevin Rodenkirch, Dane Rankin and Jeremy Kirk (all SOM) for their highly informative introduction to one of Chicago’s most significant tall buildings.

Tour guests on the 16th floor terrace

Attendees: Marwan Alkhouli, ENSA Paris La Villette; Macijei Cichy, The University of Auckland; David Clothier, Elevator World Inc.; Jason Dobbin, Perkins Eastman; Mike Farris, Lerch Bates, Inc.; Lee Herzog, Lerch Bates, Inc.; Derek Kelly, RWDI; Jeremy Kirk, SOM; Danny Marian, America Israel Investments; Joel Matsco, Bayer Material Science; Don McCann, Apogee / Viracon; Lance McMasters, Lerch Bates, Inc.; Garret Miller, Hill International Real Estate Partners, LP; Brant Oldershaw, Halsall Associates Ltd.; Dane Rankin, SOM; Kevin Rodenkirch, SOM; Christine Shaffer, Apogee / Viracon; Lucas Tryggestad, SOM; Grant Uhlir, Gensler; Bill Walker, Otis Elevator Company; Bill Wiley, Chicago Architecture Foundation; Hyung Joon Won, BAUM Architects.

Picture Gallery
Click an image below to enlarge.
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Overall view

Guests met in plaza

Base from Wabash Avenue

View up at set backs


Typical hotel room

Typical hotel bathroom
Guests on 16th floor terrace
Guests on 16th floor terrace
Guests on 16th floor terrace
Guests on 16th floor terrace

Facade detail view

Partial roof garden

Wrigley Building viewed from 16th floor terrace
Chicago River viewed from 16th floor terrace

Ballroom lobby

86th floor penthouse

View to the north from 86th floor penthouse
86th floor penthouse