One of the tallest buildings in the world and the tallest building in America, it is impossible to miss when appreciating the skyline.
In 1969, Sears Roebuck and Company was the largest retailer in the world, with about 350,000 employees. Deciding it needed a central office space for its many employees, the company hired architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to design what would become one of the largest office buildings in the world. After breaking ground in 1970, it took three years to complete and used enough concrete to make an eight-lane, five-mile-long highway. The last beam put in place was commemorated by the signatures of 12,000 construction workers, Sears employees, and Chicagoans.
In 1988, Sears Roebuck and Company sold and moved out of the building, but the Sears Tower name remained the same. It was renamed Willis Tower in 2009 after the Willis Group Holdings, the global insurance broker who calls the Tower its Midwest home.
In July 2009, U.S. Equities led the design and construction of a multi-million dollar renovation of Skydeck Chicago, including the development of The Ledge, a series of glass bays on the 103rd floor that extend from the building providing visitors with unobstructed views of Chicago through the windows and glass floors – 1,353 feet straight down. In addition to The Ledge, the new Skydeck visitor center features museum-quality interactive exhibits. The opening of The Ledge has provided the Skydeck with record-breaking visitor counts consistently since its debut.
In May 2011, Skydeck Chicago opened Skydeck Marketplace, a brand new, 7,500 square foot retail and express cafe experience. Visitors can purchase their choice of over 300 unique Chicago, Ledge and Willis Tower items and are treated to authentic Chicago food and beverages including Connie's Pizza, Eli's Cheesecake and Vienna Hot Dogs.
Willis Tower has been part of the Chicago skyline for decades so it’s easy to overlook the true magnitude of this magnificent steel frame skyscraper. Take a look at these facts and figures and we guarantee you won’t look at America's tallest building the same way again.