ok We use cookies on our website to allow you the best possible service. More information can be found here.
Your location:

Willis Tower

View all 90 images Download as PDF Purchase Images


Willis Tower
Sears Tower


Structure in General

existing [completed]
bundled tube
caisson foundation
curtain wall
international style
flat roof with 1 box


commercial office
shop(s) service branch(es) restaurant parking


  • World's tallest building from 1974-1996, surpassed by Petronas Tower 1 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Until Taipei 101 was topped out in 2004, the Sears Tower held title to the world's highest roof and highest occupied floor.
  • This has been the tallest building in Chicago since 1974. For a timeline of Chicago's tallest building through history, start with Holy Name Cathedral.
  • The structure is formed from nine bundled square tubes, each 75 feet wide with no columns between the core and perimeter. Two of the tubes are 50 floors high, two are 66 floors, three are 90, and two are 108.
  • The design was actually inspired by a pack of cigarettes. Architect Bruce Graham used a pack of cigarettes to visualize his idea of using a series of bundled cylinders at different heights to create the tower.
  • Sears executives chose to build a single tall headquarters building over an alternative proposal for twin towers at half the existing tower's height.
  • Sears Tower was topped out on May 3, 1973, surpassing One World Trade Center as the world's tallest building.
  • The two antennae on the roof give the tower one of the highest "tip heights" of any skyscraper in the world.
  • In 2000, four high-definition television antennas were lifted to the roof by helicopter.
  • Sears Roebuck & Co. originally occupied the lower half of its namesake tower. In 1995 the company moved to a low-rise complex in the northwest Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates.
  • The lobby floor is decorated with metal tiles in a stylized design based on the bundled tube structure.
  • Double-decker express elevators take passengers from the first two floors to skylobbies at floors 33/34 and 66/67.
  • The height was listed in many sources for years as 1,454 feet. This is the result of misprinted data which was copied by several sources until it was corrected by the engineers in the middle 1990s.
  • The lobby contains the moving sculpture "The Universe" by Alexander Calder.
  • The observatory elevators are among the world's fastest at 1600 feet per minute.
  • Twenty-eight acres of black anodized aluminum panels and approximately 16,100 bronze-tinted windows form the tower's facade.
  • The tower has a pressure lock (like an airlock) at the freight entrance to combat the 'stack effect' generated by the differential in air pressure caused by cold air meeting warm air in the building.
  • The Skydeck occupies the 103rd floor, the highest non-mechanical floor in the building. It has its own entrance on Jackson Boulevard, and attracts approximately 1.5 million visitors per year.
  • 2.5 million cubic feet of concrete were used during construction.
  • Before the tower was developed, its site was split in half by West Quincy Street. Sears paid the city of Chicago $2.7 million for the street segment.
  • The tower's sway has been known to induce motion sickness in people working at the top.
  • This is not the original Sears Tower, the previous headquarters of Sears Roebuck was a vast building on Chicago's West Side that included the Sears Merchandise Building Tower.
  • A renovation in the 1980s added a barrel-vaulted entrance pavilion to the west side and a small cut-away atrium inside the east entrance.
  • The building's facade has been climbed twice: by Dan Goodwin in 1981 and by Alain Robert in 1999.
  • A viewing ledge built of three 1.3-centimeter thick glass layers, and suspended from the 103rd floor, opened to the public on July 2, 2009.

Do you need more information about this building and its related companies?

More Information


233 South Wacker Drive
200-250 South Franklin Street, 300-348 West Jackson Boulevard, 301-349 West Adams Street
233 South Wacker Drive

Technical Data

1,729.00 ft
1,450.59 ft
1,450.59 ft
1,432.05 ft
1,353.97 ft
1,353.97 ft
12.86 ft
225.00 ft
225.00 ft

Involved Companies

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now
Show now

Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • Aircraft warning lights installed
  • Doorman is available
  • Double-decker elevators present
  • Observation floor is available
  • Skylobby is present
  • Transmission antenna on roof
Found a mistake?
Related Buildings