Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago
Featured August 2013
Trump International Hotel & Tower was recognized as a "Best Tall Building Americas Finalist" in the 2009 CTBUH Awards Program.
Other Featured Tall Buildings

“There is much to herald in the new Trump Tower—the tallest building built in the US in the last 35 years, a phased occupancy nothing short of miraculous, and the creation of new quality urban realm at the ground plane to name but three.”
- Antony Wood, CTBUH 2009 Awards Juror, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

423 m (1,389 ft)
Primary Use
Residential / Hotel

The Trump Organization
Design Architect
Skidmore Owings & Merrill

Interior Fit-Out Architect
PMG Architects

Structural Engineer
Skidmore Owings & Merrill
WMA Consulting Engineers
Bovis Lend Lease Inc.
Material Suppliers
Permasteelisa Group
Public Space
McGinley Design
Other Consultants
Cerami & Associates; Lerch Bates & Associates; Schirmer Engineering; STS Consultants; KONE; RWDI; Dow Corning Corporation

The tallest of the projects nominated for this year’s Awards, the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago pushes the boundaries technologically to achieve its great height. Making its mark on the skyline of Chicago, the Trump Tower also leaves a powerful mark on the ground plane. The tower has carved out a new public space that creates pedestrian connections and enlivens the riverfront. It is rare for a building of this scale to respond so strongly and yet sensitively to the ground plane.

Urbanistically and architecturally, Trump Tower represents a high standard of contextual design—fitting very well into the city. Trump presents a successful way for a tall building to gently greet the ground with a pedestrian friendly, engaging space, which enriches the surrounding urban fabric rather than isolating itself from it. The phased full occupancy of the hotel in the lower section whilst construction continued unabated above is nothing short of miraculous, especially on a tight urban site like this.

Figure 1. View looking up the tower

Standing at 401 North Wabash Avenue in Chicago, the site of the former Chicago Sun-Times building, the Trump International Hotel and Tower marks the tallest building project to be completed in the United States since the Sears Tower was completed in 1974.  The tower includes the 339-room Trump International Hotel, 486 luxury condominium units, 9,300 square meters (100,000 sq ft) of riverfront retail space, 960 parking spaces, restaurant, banquet space, health club, spa, lounges and a ground floor beautified by a landscaped riverfront public plaza and a riverfront promenade.

Figure 2. Aerial view
Figure 3. Skyline with Willis and Trump Tower
The tower creates a significant new addition to the Chicago skyline and changes the way in which individuals experience the Chicago River.  Shaped to reflect its orientation along the riverfront, the tower’s width is sensitive to its urban surroundings. The south side of the tower parallels the river bank, enabling the structure to connect with Chicago’s north–south grid.  Adding to the tower’s sculptural quality, the building’s massing is lifted by 12 meters (40ft), opening up an expansive, landscaped promenade that steps down, like terraces on a hillside, for three levels until it meets the Chicago River. This promenade establishes a pedestrian connection between Michigan Avenue and State Street. By providing public assembly spaces and retail activity at the river’s edge, the tower will connect two bustling areas together: North Michigan Avenue and the Loop.
The tower relates to its neighbors through a series of setbacks, the first of which occurs on the east side, at a height that is essentially the same as the cornice line of the Wrigley Building. The next setback, on the west side of the tower, relates to both the height of the residential tower to the north and Marina City, to the west. The third and final setback is on the east side of the tower and relates to the height of the IBM Building immediately adjacent.

The lateral structural system for the Trump Tower consists of a concrete core and outrigger system. Concrete was chosen as the primary structural material to take advantage of its ability to provide a stiff frame with high damping.  The tower foundation consists of a three meter (10ft) thick mat supported on rock caissons. It is believed that the 3,823 meters cubed (5,000 yd3) mat foundation pour represented the largest single self-consolidating concrete placement in North America to date.

As part of the tower’s sustainable strategy, Chicago River water is used to cool the building.  The building’s cooling system returns the water back into the river, unlike buildings with conventional cooling towers.  A computerized-control system regulates the temperature and ventilation of the building, determining how much the air must be conditioned.  Partial green roofs can be found on the tower’s terrace levels. Each of the 3 meter by 1.5 meter (10ft x 6ft) curtain wall panels are made of thermal-pane glass encased in aluminum, with a thermal coating that helps retain heat in the winter and cool air in the summer.
Figure 4.  View looking north from Wabash Street corridor

Early on in the design and development of the project, the client identified the desire for a project with phased occupancy.  The occupancy phasing was incredibly unique—while the bottom 30 floors of the hotel were completed, occupied and functioning, construction continued on the remaining 60 floors. This phased occupancy required a concerted effort of the project management staff to meet regularly with the City of Chicago inspectors and Building Department heads.

Figure 5. Base of tower from across Michigan Ave.

Related Links
CTBUH Skyscraper Center Profile:
Trump International Hotel & Tower

Trump International Hotel & Tower was recognized as a Best Tall Building Americas Finalist in the 2009 CTBUH Awards Program.
Download Trump International Hotel & Tower 2009 CTBUH Awards Book section

2009 CTBUH Awards Book

The CTBUH would like to thank SOM for their assistance with this article.
Photography © SOM, Antony Wood, Marshall Gerometta, and Lawrence Okrent