Skyscraper has a great potential as the utopian device. However, with the undeniable demand of business, implementation of the skyscraper within a city spiraled out of control and the form became a simple, brutal extrusion. With cities becoming forests of repetitive towers, living habitat is disconnected from the ground and urban life, being perceived as a threat to traditional life.
On the other hand skyscraper is against almost everything that is praised in time–honored architecture – against natural, human tendencies of perception. It is enigmatic, sheltering its structural logic behind the envelope. It is out of scale, overwhelming the individual with its megastructure, disconnected from the street and its life. However, it is also pure potentiality, multiplying the floors, forming a refuge or a dwelling as a city within a city, sheltering one from the urban life it creates; a metaphor and a statement. The skyscraper is radical, inconceivable, disconnected from urban reality and otherworldly.
The skyscraper is ambivalent – ominous and out of scale to such an extent, that detailing and overall quality of the design do not matter. Nevertheless, it forms a new typology of a place and renders different presence in the city. This concept is just that – generative action and a statement for Chicago. In such conditions, if the tall building is to truly be a generative urban action, it shall be uncanny. We asked ourselves what did Chicagoans want – they wanted a statement – tall building for the sake of being tall alone. The Chicago Spire project failed yet the dreams remained.
The design is a strong response to the degradation of the quality of social life throughout the years due to the commutation of previous habitat-Chicagoan block into a skyscraper. Therefore, we transform the block into a vertical community with smaller units snapped inside the megastucture. We also generate new experiences of living in a city center, enhancing the possibilities, emphasizing the space inside the tower and expressing otherworldly transparency of the skyscraper. Through the project we wanted to raise a discussion: why do we actually build skyscrapers? Is the original premise of building skyscrapers due to the lack of the plot space still valid? Is their structural logic although rational the most peculiar? And most importantly why through living at the height we can experience the space by looking outside the flat but not looking inside the building? Through this and some other questions we were lead to the final design.
Site strategy was a result of congesting majority of the public functions in the building’s first floors. Program of the tower itself includes exhibition areas, restaurant, cafés, and viewing decks with primary functions of living and co-working. The area of the plot is left for the representative public square and for the long – awaited DuSable Park . The aim was also to connect two parts of the site via extension of the existing promenade. Moreover the street was extended and connected with the Lake Shore Drive to enhance the traffic nearby. Hence we have megastructural presence of the tower and public realm beneath.
Throughout the years skyscrapers shaped their own typology not only in terms of structural systems where concrete cores were wrapped by outer structural elements but also through enclosing the whole system in a rectangular block. During the last few years the tendency was to concentrate on the outer look of the building. Rectangular forms slowly started to become cliché relic of modernism. New skyscrapers looked different from the outside however the structural logic remained the same in the inside. We wanted to inverse this phenomenon– remaining traditional rectangular shape and concentrating on a different organization of the interior. Hence we transform the typology of a skyscraper by removing the essence of it – repetitive floors – leaving the void within. We propose to attach modular boxes to peripheral cores instead, in order to provide living and working space for. At the same time we leave ample space for additional installments if the demand would rise. The intent is to deliver a statement for Chicago, reform traditional Chicagoan skyscraper to a new type of a building , and to create a different experience of living in a tall building.
Voided tower structure consists of two peripheral cores, providing space for vertical circulation. It is braced together with a diagrid and by a megastructural normative frame superimposed on it. The space between the outer diagrid and the bracing of the cores is used for the solar chimney. Modular light frame blocks are connected to the structure through beams welded to C profiles attached to the steel structure of the wall. The outer frame of the building is based on the distribution of the inner stresses in the tall building under the pressure of the wind loads. Considering skyscraper as a huge cantilever and analyzing the schematic diagram of bending moment, we can observe the biggest bending moment in the point where the building touches the ground, It indicates that the building will be burdened mostly in the bottom. Hence designing elements of the structure are to counteract the biggest loads. That is why steel diagrid is most dense in the bottom and scarcer in the higher part.