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2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

Mar 31, 2020102,9824

Chicago Skyline is an absolute architectural wonder outlined by skyscrapers of all shapes. As the birthplace of skyscrapers, Chicago has seen the birth of many architectural concepts. It all started with Goldberg’s Marina City and the One Parke Place Crain Communications Building rising as Chicago skyscrapers.

Table of Contents

Chicago skyline outline in sunrise
1. Nema Chicago, New Icon to be
2. Vista Tower
3. Willis Tower, the Chicago Skydeck
4. John Hancock Center
5. Tribune Tower
6. Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
7. Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel
8. Crain Communications Building (Smurfit stone building)
9. Marina City
10. The Wrigley Building Chicago
11. Admire The Skyline Walk, Kayak, Sail, and Even Helicopter:
12. Chicago skyline at night:
13. Chicago Skyline Paintings & Arts
14. Tour Through a Lens
15. Chicago architecture show

Chicago skyline outline in sunrise

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

After a lull of ten years, the Chicago City has sanctioned 800 ft buildings with more projects awaiting approval. Each day the skyline is changing Chicago architecture with newer designs and advanced technology coming to the rescue of implementing them from concept to completion! So, as you plan to explore the city, remember to visit a checklist of iconic architectural marvels.

Here are 10 iconic buildings that contribute to the marvels of the Chicago skyline 2020, its architectural scenario, and its beauteous skyscrapers.

1. Nema Chicago, New Icon to be

The cradle where skyscrapers were first designed and implemented to counter suburban migration is today a buzzing metropolis. The number of skyscrapers here is second to only New York City. And the scenario is fast changing with many 800 feet plus buildings rising.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

After a decade that saw no more 800-footers, the Steeleville’s One Bennett Park standing approx 836 ft was the first one to be completed and opened for business in the Spring of 2018. Two more interesting buildings that are under construction and fast nearing completion is the Chicago skyscraper Nema building and the Chicago skyscraper Vista Tower.

Formerly known as One Grant Park, the 896 ft and slightly taller Nema Tower was completed in summer of 2019. The Nema building is located at the southern edge of Grant Park. Some of the best architects and designers like Viñoly, Jahn, Pelli, Stern, Gang, Goettsch, Gill and Smith are involved in the projects that are mammoths and are sure to overshadow the rest of the buildings.

[Adress] 1210 S Indiana Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

[Map] Check Nema Tower in Google Map

2. Vista Tower

Vista Tower (formerly known as 375 E. Wacker) is a (1,191-foot) supertall skyscraper. Designed by the architect’s firm Studio Gang, the three stacks are envisaged to be made up of frustums. It is geometrical in shape and wrapped in colored glass of eight shades to emphasize the undulations in its form and architecture.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

The tower will contain a five-star hotel with 192 rooms and 396 luxurious residential condos with super-rich ultra-facilitative amenities. It is scheduled to open in 2020 around Spring and is Chicago’s tallest one under construction. It looks like it is set to join the elite band of USA’s tallest buildings even though it stays a little short of New York’s tallest building.

[Adress] 363 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

[Map] Check Vista Tower in Google Map

To know more about tallest building in Manhattan:

3. Willis Tower, the Chicago Skydeck

The Chicago skyscraper Willis tower is a sky deck in reality. Willis Tower is a 110-story, 1,450-foot (442.1 m) building which uses the bundling of steel tubes to form the core tube. The world's largest retailer Sears Roebuck and Company, with about 350,000 employees commissioned SOM - Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill in 1969 to build the Sears Towers of 3 mil sq ft. It is a structural innovation to resist wind loads brought by the structural engineer Fazlur Khan of SOM and for the architect Bruce Graham.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

The system used nine staggered heights of steel tubes to support each other and act as a single complementary unit while breaking the wind force. This gave birth to the innovative Chicago architecture technology that holds up the Willis tower structure once known as the Sears Tower.

Its proximity to the commuter rail lines and expressways was a huge boon for the Sears employees. Hence it proved beneficial to the Chicago City’s economy as well. In 2009, the London-based insurance broker Willis Group Holdings leased more than 140,000 square feet of office space on three floors of the Sears Tower. The contract included naming rights for 15 years., The name of the building got officially changed to Willis Tower in July 2009.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

In 2009, a renovation of the Willis Tower’s observation deck, Skydeck Chicago, was conducted, including the development of The Ledge, a series of glass bays on the 103rd floor that extends from the building to provide visitors with unobstructed views of Chicago through the windows and glass floors – 1,353 feet straight down.

[Ticket] Book now for Chicago Skyline Admission from US$19.

And you can also enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner on the Willis Tower Skydeck.

[Adress] 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

[Map] Check Willis Tower in Google Map

The John Hancock Center is 1,128-foot skyscraper located the Magnificent Mile. The name got changed to 875 North Michigan Avenue on February 2018.

The architectural firm of SOM- Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was responsible for the design of the John Hancock Center, with Bruce Graham working as architect and Fazlur Khan as a structural engineer. It is the same team that built Chicago’s tallest building, the Willis Tower.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

Its location at 875 North Michigan Avenue overlooks the Lake Michigan and the Golden Mile. From there, visitors get to view the Chicago skyline from a height of 1000 ft. The 95th floor is home to The Signature Room. The 94th floor has TILT which inverts the moving platform over the 94th floor atop Michigan Avenue.

[Adress] 875 North Michigan Avenue, IL 60611

[Tel] 1*312* 794*7777

5. Tribune Tower

The neo-gothic Chicago skyscraper Tribune Tower located at 435 North Michigan Avenue on the Chicago skyline. In 1922, the Chicago Daily Tribune organized a competition for the 'most beautiful and eye-catching building in the world.' At that time the design originated and won the competition as well. The architects Howells and Hood were responsible for the iconic structure that stands for everything related to media, entertainment, and communications.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

The Chicago skyline Tribune Tower phase II is worth watching and is proposed to stand at a whopping 1,422 ft. It is right next door to its famed neighbor and is expected to contain 439 rental apartments. It has a 200-room luxury hotel, 430 parking spaces, and 125 condominiums. The architects for this project are the local firm of Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill.

[Adress] 435 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

[Map] Check Tribune Tower in Google Map

[Tel] 1*312* 222*3994

The Trump Tower overlooks the Loop, the Chicago River. It is surrounded by shops of the Magnificent Mile, the night clubs, bars and restaurants of River North and has two L-stations close by. The tower is the 16th tallest building in the world, and its modernistic and masculine Chicago architecture style sets it apart on the Chicago skyline.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

The building, named after President Donald Trump, was designed by architect Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Even before Trump ran for the Presidency, he was already a mogul in various sectors like bath amenities, water bottles, wine, chocolates and others, including hotels. With a variety of amenities that are rated high several on-site residences, the 14th-floor heat-pool, its unique gym, and an attentive concierge team ensure all comforts are provided. The base price of the huge rooms is 223 pounds upwards, and so is the food from the two-star Michelin Sixteen restaurant onsite.

[Adress] 401 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

[Tel] 1*312* 588*8000

The youngest and most different in the visual appeal is the Chicago skyline skyscraper Aqua Tower opened in 2010. Its exteriors built to accommodate different balcony sizes is recognizable from far. It consists of an undulating modern abstract flowing design more like waves. Located at 225 North Columbus Drive, it is designed by the innovative woman-led firm of Studio Gang Architects. The Lead Architect Jeanne Gang is justifiably proud of her Chicago architecture achievement. The Aqua Tower is listed as the third tallest building globally to be designed by a woman! Its numerous balconies bearing different sizes are unique and give stunning views of the Chicago skyline.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

The Aqua Tower on the Lake Michigan shores bridges the gap between sculpture and skyscrapers with inspiration drawn from the shifting qualities of water and was hence named Aqua. The external façade mimics blue waters and its prestigious occupiers. The Radisson Blu Hotel has a luxury hotel in the edifice which shimmers like aqua in the sunlight. Besides having 7,669 sq mt mixed-use space, its terraces are garden filled with pools, a walking and running track, hot tubs, gazebos, and a unique fire-pit too. In 2009 it won the coveted Emporis Skyscraper Award.

[Adress] 221 N Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

[Tel] 1*312* 565*5258

8. Crain Communications Building (Smurfit stone building)

The John Crerar Library’s former site at the NW Gant Park corner is where the Chicago skyscraper Crain Communications Towers can be found. Also called the vagina-shaped building because of its aerial view, the building appears slit down the center with the two towers placed slightly apart and disjointed.

Also called One Parke Place, the Chicago skyscraper building was the first global office building that was worked on using computerization. It was featured prominently in Elisabeth Shue’s "Adventures in Babysitting" which ran to full box offices in 1987. The 45 degrees rotated service cores produce diagonally oriented southeast views on the street grid. Most of the office floorplans here also boast of the design capitalizing on the awesome and breathtaking views of Chicago city. The multi-colored geometric patterns exhibited by it changed each time a passerby walked past it and hence the name! The 46-floors building has the top narrow five floors left vacant and unused by the architect Sheldon Schlegman working with A. Epstein and Sons.

[Adress] 150 N Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60601

[Map] Check Crain Communications Tower in Google Map

The Loop or Chicago’s downtown area is by far the fastest burgeoning residential neighborhood. Architect Bertrand Goldberg’s experiment in living in urban and city spaces focused on bringing the middle-classed migrating suburban residents back to Chicago.

And he succeeded with an iconic building that is beloved to the Chicago skyline and architecture while being well-known globally as the ‘corn cob’ building.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

Goldberg introduced the concept of the city-within-a-city way back in 1967. He hoped that the mixed-use concept originating in Chicago skyline skyscraper architecture would provide for drawing the crowds into spaces where they could live, work, and play in the “corncob towers.”

The design incorporated this vision and provided two high-rise 65-floor towers with residences, car parking area, a theatre, an office complex, boat parking, and many retail spaces.

The architect Bertrand Goldberg learned and practiced under the then famed master architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His influence can be perceived in the forward-thinking and organic, albeit modern influence and principles exhibited, especially in the Marina City building. He has made excellent use of the curved, prefabricated modular curvilinear reinforced concrete forms drawing inspiration from the sunflower and its petals. In his now trademark style, he used a strong core built to complete height to cantilever on the perimeter columns the wedge-shaped residential units along with the petal forms, making the façade stunningly beautiful and aesthetic.

Located at 300 North State Street the 588 ft Chicago skyscraper cylindrical towers also house the 354-roomed Hotel Chicago from the Marriot group and the House of Blues. The marina level also has electric boats if you want to explore the river overlooked by this magnificent endearing and historical building. For more information and directions call on 1*312*222*1111 or click the address link at Marina City, 300 North State Street.

[Adress] Marina City, 300 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

[Map] Check Marina City in Google Map

10. The Wrigley Building Chicago

The Chicago skyscraper Wrigley Building at 400 North Michigan Avenue from the architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White. It draws inspiration from the French Renaissance and the Giralda tower of the Seville Cathedral. The Wrigley Company was headquartered here and hence the name. The 1924 marvel was Chicago skyline’s first building with air-conditioning. The dual- height dual towers are connected through a walkway and are very popular and recognizable in the Chicago skyline with its terra-cotta glazed exteriors and façade in stark white, gleaming and shining through both at nights and in the daytime.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

The south-facing clock tower has immense 19 ft diameter clock faces in the four cardinal directions. Since it is strategically located on 1.25-mile Chicago Riverwalk, which is a huge award-winning draw for tourists, the building per se gets many eye-balls. But not many know of its beautiful parking area just past the central doors which overlook the Chicago River and provides for excellent siesta time in seclusion. Its proximity to the many coves, museums, wineries, breezy cafes, bars, public art monuments and excursions on the river boat-trips makes it a worthwhile visit. The well-illuminated night view of this building is a bit of an icon to the Chicago people and tourists alike.

[Adress] 400-410 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

[Map] Check the Wrigley Building in Google Map

11. Admire The Skyline Walk, Kayak, Sail, and Even Helicopter:

In Chicago, the sky is not the limit! You can fly in a helicopter over the bedazzling Chicago skyline after sunset to get the enviable Chicago night skyline experience. The pilot is your expert guide; you can point out Chicago architecture landmarks like the Sears or Willis Tower, the rippling Aqua Tower, Lincoln Park, the Shedd Aquarium, Millenium Park. The 15 min ride costs about 10, 952 Rs and gives you the most exhilarating views of the Chicago Skyline. Now admire the aerial view of Lake Michigan with its beach, the Navy Pier, the fabled University of Chicago and top attractions like the John Hancock Tower, United Center, Wrigley Field and many, many more.

Check out the options for undertaking sailing, cruises, and water-theme based tours in Chicago. You don’t have to travel to exotic locales to have some fun. Try kayaking, sailing and walking tours with expert help and guidance in Chicago to make the most of break from your usual routine with these fun tours and activities.

12. Chicago skyline at night:

The Chicago skyline is the world’s envy and Chicago’s pride! The iconic and best views of the Chicago skyline are always from a vantage point. Try out these spots to get an enviable view and even feature yourself in some pictures that look like trick photography from Cloud Gate located at 201 East Randolph Street, Cindy’s Rooftop Bar at 12 South Michigan Avenue, 360 Observatory Deck at 875 North Michigan Avenue, the Ferris Wheel view at Navy Pier located at 600 East Grand Avenue or the Willis Tower SkyDeck at 233 South Wacker Drive.

If you don’t mind spending some moolah for getting the Chicago skyscraper view, the best places to go to are the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, Skydeck at Willis Tower, or the Navy Pier’s Ferris Wheel. They are the ones that give you a high! When that is not an option drop by the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, Cindy's Rooftop or Adler Planetarium and click pictures of Chicago during the daytime or even at night. Yes, at Cindy’s you may have to get yourself a not-so-cheap drink to earn the bonus of the Chicago skyline view.

13. Chicago Skyline Paintings & Arts

There are quite a lot paintings and arts about Chicago Skyline. This picture below use colorful paper cut style and illustrate Skyline Chicago city composition style.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

Also the Chicago skyline outline in black and white.

2020 Chicago Skyline: 10 Iconic Chicago Skyline Buildings and How to Explore

14. Tour Through a Lens

TTAL Tour-Through-A-Lens is one of the best ways to explore the Chicago skyline. It is bound to change the way you see and capture photographs of famous locations, their architecture, the number of Chicago skyscrapers and even of yourself against the backdrop of Chicago architecture landmark exhibits and buildings. All you need is a good camera and the urge to discover different perspectives, angles, and lighting conditions to take up a customized photo-tour with the many tour operators who are professional photographers.

Choose from the options based on your subject of photography, be it urban scenes, Chicago architecture, landmark buildings, or Chicago skyscraper historical tales. Your camera equipment be it professional or smartphone, and the time you want to spend on it be it the 5-hr, 3-hr or immersive 9-hr package. Typically, two packages are available covering the Famous North Loop for architectural history, theatre-related subjects and the north skyline or the South Loop for its unique nightlife, historical nuggets, and hotels. It could cost you upwards of 3528 Rs for the basic package. Contact TTAL at their website or call 1 312 291 1064 Monday to Friday from 9 mornings to 7 in the evening and book your customized photo tour for this unique explorative experience. They are closed on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Here’s the best insider news for those in love with Chicago’s architecture and Chicago skyline. If you want to get a peek into the most enviable buildings dotting the skyline you can get your chance at the Open House Chicago annual show where the Chicago Architecture Center makes the 200 such skyscraper buildings from almost 20 neighborhoods in Chicago available for self-guided discovery tours.

The Chicago architecture show is on for free, and you can build your itinerary of the must-see mansions, private clubs or high-rise offices most of which are to-die-for to peek within and rarely if ever open to public gaze. We hope to see you enjoy your day or night with the best Chicago skyline views while you explore the Chicago architecture marvels.


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