23 sep 08 | The Chicago Tribune

Trump Tower: ready to get spired

By Blair Kamin

Donald Trump will be in Chicago Wednesday for the ceremonial "topping off" of his 92-story riverfront skyscraper, but for my money, the real drama will come next month when a helicopter lifts the tower's ornamental spire into place.

The action in the sky is set to occur on Saturday, October 25, and Sunday, October 26--weather permitting, of course.

Photos of the spire supplied by the building's architects and engineers, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago, show tapering, three-legged steel sections waiting to be trucked to Chicago. Once connected atop the hotel-condo tower and clad in painted fiberglass, they will reach at least 200 feet above its roofline and bring its total height to more than 1,360 feet.

That should make the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, as the building is formally known, the second-tallest building in America, about 90 feet shorter than Sears Tower, an office building. Always fond of associating himself with superlatives, Trump is billing his skyscraper as "the Tallest Residential Building in North America."
The New York developer and reality TV star initially did not want a spire atop the skyscraper, but relented in 2004 when Mayor Richard M. Daley insisted on the decorative feature in a closed-door meeting in Daley's 5th floor City Hall office. Said a Chicago Tribune headline: "Daley to Trump: 'You're spired!'"

Wednesday's "topping-off" ceremony, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. on the tower's 16th floor, is a public relations event that will mark the completion of the tower's concrete superstructure, an event which occurred last month. In addition to Trump, his grown children and fellow bold-face names--Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric--are expected to attend. The spire's height, according to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is 227 feet, eight inches.

Located at 401 N. Wabash Ave., on the former site of the squat Chicago Sun-Times building, the tower is set to be completed next yearIts chief designer, Adrian Smith, has left Skidmore and opened his own Chicago architectural firm. While at Skidmore, Smith also designed an even taller mixed-use skyscraper, the Burj Dubai, now under construction in the United Arab Emirates. Its height is expected to reach a mind-boggling 2,600 feet--a level that, for now at least, out-Trumps even Trump.

Brian Steele, a spokesman for the City of Chicago's Department of Transportation, said he could not specify street closures because the Trump Organization and its contractor, Bovis, have not yet applied for a permit for the spire installation.