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The Trump International Hotel and Tower, also known as Trump Tower Chicago and locally as the Trump Tower, is a skyscraper condo-hotel in downtown . The building, named after real estate developer Donald Trump, was designed by architect Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Bovis Lend Lease built the 96-story structure, which reached a height of including its spire, its roof topping out at . It is adjacent to the main branch of the Chicago Rivermarker, with a view of the entry to Lake Michiganmarker beyond a series of bridges over the river. The building received publicity when the winner of the first season of The Apprentice television show, Bill Rancic, chose to manage the construction of the tower.

Trump announced in 2001 that the skyscraper would become the tallest building in the world, but after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the building plans were scaled back, and its design has undergone several revisions. When topped out in 2009 it became the second-tallest building in the United States after Chicago's Willis Towermarker. It is expected to be surpassed by the 1 World Trade Centermarker in New York City in the middle of 2013, and by the currently on-hold Chicago Spiremarker if completed. Trump Tower surpassed Chicago's John Hancock Centermarker as the building with the world's highest residence above ground-level and will hold this title until the Burj Dubaimarker claims it.

The design of the building includes, from the ground up, retail space, a parking garage, a hotel, and condominiums. The 339-room hotel opened for business with limited accommodations and services on January 30, 2008. April 28, 2008 marked the grand opening with full accommodation and services. A restaurant on the 16th floor, called Sixteen, opened in early 2008 to favorable reviews for its cuisine, decor, location, architecture, and view. The building topped out in late 2008 and construction was completed in 2009.


The tower is situated at 401 North Wabash Avenue in the River North Gallery District, part of the Near North Sidemarker community area of Chicago. The building occupies the site vacated by the Chicago Sun-Times, one of the city's two major newspapers, and its location within the River North Gallery District places it in the neighborhood that has had a high concentration of art galleries since the 1980s. The site, at the foot of Rush Street, is located on the north side of the Chicago Rivermarker just west of the Wrigley Buildingmarker and the Michigan Avenue Bridge, and just east of Marina Citymarker and 330 North Wabashmarker The building is close to numerous Chicago landmarks; it borders the Michigan-Wacker Districtmarker, which is a Registered Historic District. Parts of the building are visible throughout the city, and the entire length of the building is visible from Chicago River waterway traffic, as well as from locations to the east along the river, such as the mouth of Lake Michiganmarker, the Lake Shore Drivemarker Overpass, and the Columbus Drivemarker Bridge.

The building is across the Chicago River from the Chicago Loopmarker, the city's business district. It is a block away from the southern end of the Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenuemarker. The restaurant on the 16th floor, which is named Sixteen, has a clear view of the Chicago River's entrance to Lake Michigan and of the four buildings completed in the 1920s that flank the Michigan Avenue Bridge (Wrigley Building, Tribune Towermarker, 333 North Michiganmarker, and 360 North Michiganmarker).


The design of the building incorporates three setbacks to provide visual continuity with the surrounding skyline. Each of the setbacks is designed to reflect the height of a nearby building; the first aligns with the Wrigley Buildingmarker, the second with the Marina City Towers, and the third with the 330 North Wabash building (formerly known as IBM Plazamarker). However, some views distort the alignment of the second setback. The setbacks and rounded edges of the building combat vortex formation which may occur in the "Windy City".

The building has of floor space, rises to 92 stories, and houses 486 luxury residential condominiums. These include studio apartments, one- to four-bedroom suites, and five-bedroom penthouse. The tower also features a luxury hotel condominium with 339 guest rooms. The 3rd through 12th floors house lobbies, retail space, and the parking garage; the 14th floor and its mezzanine hosts a health club and spa. The 17th floor through the 27th-floor mezzanine contain hotel condominiums and executive lounges. The 28th through 85th floors have residential condominiums, and the 86th through 89th floors have penthouses. There are plans for a riverfront park and riverwalk along a space in the area adjacent to the building to the east. The park is expected to be completed by the early fall of 2009.

The building surpassed the record for the world's highest residence, which had been held since 1969 by the nearby John Hancock Centermarker. Because the Trump Tower has both hotel condominiums and residential condominiums, it does not contest the record held by the 80-story Q1 Towermarker in Gold Coast, Australia, which, at , is the tallest all-residential building.



It had been planned originally to have a partial opening of three of the hotel's floors on December 3, 2007, with a grand opening to follow. The interim ceremony, however, was delayed until the City of Chicago granted occupancy approval for the staff of the hotel in the first 27 floors, and finally took place on January 30, 2008. Four floors of guest rooms were opened, comprising 125 of the planned 339 rooms. By this time, construction on the exterior of the building had passed the 53rd floor. The grand opening of the entire hotel, including amenities, originally scheduled for March 17, 2008, took place on April 28, 2008. Pulitzer-Prize-winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin faults the zebrawood paneling in the hotel lobby, but another Tribune reporter praises the hotel for its "understated, contemporary look, distinguished by stunning views".


On the 16th floor, a restaurant named Sixteen opened in early February 2008, and an outdoor patio terrace, named The Terrace at Trump, opened on June 25, 2009 following the completion of construction. Sixteen, which was designed by Joe Valerio, is described architecturally as a sequence of spaces that do not reveal themselves at once, but rather in "procession". The restaurant's foyer is T-shaped, and a passageway to the hotel is lined with floor-to-ceiling architectural bronze wine racks in opposing red and white wine rooms. The passageway leads to views—praised by Kamin—that showcase the Wrigley Building clock tower and the Tribune Tower's flying buttresses. Kamin notes that these views are "more intimate" than the panoramic ones of the Signature Room, a restaurant near the top of the Hancock Center. The views are described as equally impressive by day and by night. The main part of the procession is the Tower Room, a dining room with a dome-shaped ceiling made of West African wood. The dome is furnished with Swarovski chandeliers and incorporates mirrors so that all diners can experience the view. The restaurant has two other dining rooms, named for their views: the Bridge Room and the River Room. The Terrace, whose opening was reported on Reuters, has views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan as well as Navy Piermarker's seasonal Wednesday and Saturday evening fireworks and was designed for al fresco dining. Located on the mezzanine level, the hotel bar named Rebar bar opened on April 18, 2008.


The spa, named The Spa at Trump, opened in late March 2008. It offers gemstone-infused (diamond, ruby, or sapphire) oil massages, a "robe menu", and, for customers who come sufficiently early, hydrating masques, exfoliating salt and the "Deluge shower". The spa features a health club with an indoor pool, eleven treatment rooms, a private couples treatment suite, Swiss shower, and saunas. The Citysearch editorial review described this as the "Bentley of hotel spas". A Chicago Tribune critic spoke of the spa in positive terms for both the treatment and the physical spa itself. The hotel was designed so that 53 spa guest rooms could be connected to spa via a large circular staircase.


Design history

In July 2001, when Donald Trump announced plans for the site of the former seven-story Sun-Times Building, the tower was expected to reach a height of , which would have made it the world's tallest building. It was expected to contain between of floor space and cost approximately $77 million. Three architectural firms were considered: Lohan Associates, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill; Trump selected Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in August 2001. Adrian Smith, who had previously designed the Jin Mao Towermarker, headed the Skidmore team. The same firm had also designed the Willis Towermarker and the Hancock Center.

After the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, Trump reduced the planned height to 78 stories and , to reduce the risk of similar attacks. Time magazine reported that a meeting between Smith and Trump about erecting the world's tallest building in Chicago was taking place at the actual time of the attacks. International media later claimed that the planned tower height was reduced to after the original plans called for a 150-story building that would reach . These claims are supported by computer renderings from 1999 of the proposed skyscraper, shown in the Chicago Tribune in 2005.

The building's design was first released in December 2001. However, the first design did not meet with approval from other architects, or from the residents of Chicago. A subsequent revision in July 2002 resulted in an 86-floor design for use as an office and residential structure, similar to the current design which is, however, for a different combination of uses. Smith's 2002 plans put broadcast antennae (multiple communications dishes) at the top of the building. A revised 90-story, plan was unveiled in September 2003 for a building including condominiums, office space, a "condominium hotel", retail stores, and restaurants. In January 2004, another revision changed floors 17 through 26 from offices into condominiums and hotel rooms. In his May 2004 plan, Smith decided to top the building with an ornamental spire instead of communications dishes. These dishes, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, would not have counted toward the building's height. The spire, however, will count, raising the tower's height to . At one point in 2005, Trump aspired to build a slightly taller building that would surpass the Willis Tower as the nation's tallest building, but Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was against the plan. Eventually, Smith settled on a design with a height of , which was the height of Two World Trade Centermarker, the shorter of the former twin World Trade Center towers.

Initial phases

On October 16, 2004, Donald Trump and Hollinger International, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times, completed the $73 million sale of the former home of the newspaper a week after it relocated. On October 28, 2004, Trump held a ceremony to begin the demolition of the former Sun-Times Building. The demolition and construction were financed by a $650-million-dollar loan from Deutsche Bank and a trio of hedge fund investors who represented George Soros as one of their sources of funds.

In March 2005, the construction process began with the sinking of the first caisson for the tower into the bedrock. Construction has proceeded despite a series of obstacles. In April, construction began on the foundation below the Chicago River. In July 2005, water from the river began seeping into the building site, through crevices in a corner where the foundation wall meets the Wabash Avenue bridge. Divers discovered that the leak could not be sealed from the water side. After several other failed attempts to correct the problem, they drove a steel plate next to the gap and filled the space between with concrete after digging it out.

In October 2005, a fleet of thirty concrete trucks made 600 trips to pour of concrete, within a single 24-hour period, to create the 200-by-66-by-10-foot (61.0 m × 20.1 m × 3.0 m) concrete "mat". The mat serves as the base of the building, from which its spine rises. Those involved with the construction referred to the day as the "Big Pour". James McHugh Construction Co is contracted for the concrete work on this job. They obtained the concrete from the Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street distribution site of Prairie Material Sales Inc of , the former largest privately owned ready-mix concrete company in the United States. Prairie used a formula of concrete that has never been used in the construction business to meet a specification, which exceeded the standard for conventional concrete.

Legal issues

In October 2006, controversy erupted over a street kiosk at the foot of the Magnificent Mile in front of the Wrigley Building at 410 North Michigan Avenue that advertised Trump Tower a full block away. Extensive debate and publicity occurred on the issue of whether such advertising should have been allowed. Two distinct pieces of legislation in 2002 and 2003 by the Chicago City Council had authorized the kiosk, but sidewalk billboard were not common in Chicago, and their desirability was questioned. Although there were demands from citizens' organizations and the local Alderman Burton Natarus (who had voted in favor of the legislation) to remove the kiosk, Trump agreed only to remove pricing information from the signage, after a request to remove all advertising from it. Originally, one side displayed the geographical information and the other side functioned as a billboard.

Donald Trump was sued by former Chicago Sun-Times publisher F. David Radler and his daughters for rescinding all "friends and family" condominium purchases, including Radler's. As president of the Sun-Times' holding company, Radler had negotiated the sale of the paper's headquarters building to Trump's consortium. The price of Radler's condo had been discounted by 10%, and only a 5% deposit was required instead of the standard 15%. Radler and family were part of a group of 40 insiders who were able to purchase property at about . When the market value of the property eventually rose to over , Trump nullified the "friends and family" sales. The insiders were involved in the planning and designing of the building. In January 2007, Trump cited both a clause about "matters beyond [the] seller's reasonable control" and the desire to "have more income to handle potentially higher construction costs". Despite Trump's concerns about higher construction costs, earlier in the same month, Ivanka Trump, his daughter and an executive of the company, had stated that the construction was $50 million under budget. In addition to the Radler suit over the validity of the "friends and family" discount contracts, a group of four owners sued over revisions to the closing terms, which placed limits on the owner occupancy of condo hotel units and excluded the meeting rooms and ballrooms from the common elements of which the owners have an interest.

On February 8, 2005, Trump had closed on a construction loan of $640 million from Deutsche Bank for the project. He also obtained a $130–135 million junior mezzanine loan from another syndicate headed by Fortress Investment Group. As part of these contracts, Trump had included a $40 million personal guarantee. The contracts also mandated partial repayments for each closed unit sale, and minimum sale prices. In September 2008, due to slow unit sales, Trump sought to extend both loans until mid-2009 because he felt that it was necessary in the business environment and expected from the outset of the contract. On November 10, Deutsche Bank demanded the outstanding loan payment and the $40 million guarantee. Trump filed suit later that month against Deutsche Bank in New York State Supreme Court in an effort to excuse a repayment of more than $330 million that had been due November 7, and to extend the construction loan for an unspecified period of time because of extenuating circumstances arising from the financial crisis of 2007–2009. Trump cited a "force majeure" clause that allowed the borrower to delay completion of the project under a catch-all section covering "any other event or circumstance not within the reasonable control of the borrower". Trump not only sought an extension, but sought damages of $3 billion from the bank for its use of predatory lending practices to undermine the project and damage his reputation, which he claimed "is associated worldwide with on-time, under-budget, first-class construction projects and first-class luxury hotel operations." At the end of November, Deutsche Bank countersued Trump to force him to uphold his personal payment guarantee from February 2005, after he failed to repay the amount due November 7—a date that already had been extended. The suits did not interfere with Trump's ability to continue drawing on the credit line provided by Deutsche Bank, because without the project's continued financing, Deutsche Bank may have had to assume the role of developer. In March 2009, both parties agreed to suspend litigation and resolve the disagreement amicably in an effort to help the project to succeed.


Bill Rancic, The Apprentice's season one winner in 2004, was originally hired to manage the project for a $250,000 salary. Rancic's title was President of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, but the title was somewhat misleading, because he was in fact learning on the job as an "Apprentice". Rancic's contract was renewed after his first year, but in September 2005 it appeared that his employment with Trump would finish at the end of his second year in April 2006. During 2005 Donald Trump, Jr., who had been involved in the building since its earliest stages in 1999, was overseeing the construction with weekly visits, while Rancic worked on sales and marketing. In December 2005, Rancic made it clear that he wanted to continue working for Trump, and in April 2006 his contract was renewed for a third year. In that year Donald Trump's children began to assume prominent public roles as in the Trump Organization; by January 2007 all three adult Trump children (Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Eric Trump) were executives in the acquisitions and development division of the organization. By the time the Chicago Trump Tower's hotel opened in the building in January 2008, Donald Trump and his three adult children were in the spotlight, overseeing the construction..

Bovis Lend Lease, noted for work on Disneyland Parismarker, Petronas Towersmarker, and the Time Warner Centermarker, was the construction company. James McHugh Construction Co, the concrete subcontractor, implemented a comprehensive formwork for the construction of the building. At the completion of construction the building was the tallest formwork structure in the world, and follows in the footsteps of its neighbor, Marina Citymarker, as well as Chicago's Two Prudential Plazamarker, as past recordholders. Concrete moulding was used, because using a traditional ironwork structure would have required a building footprint that would have been too big for the property size, proportional to the height of the designed building. A steel frame would have had to be wider to have supported a building of this proportion. Concrete will counteract the force of wind with the force of gravity of the building. A new chemical process that leveraged more fluid liquid concrete facilitated pumping concrete up several hundred feet to the elevating construction site. Although previous technology limited formwork to , this technology permitted the pumping of concrete high.

The building is cantilevered into a section of 420 million-year-old limestone bedrock underground. It uses -wide stilt-like pillar that were drilled beneath the building. Every around its perimeter, steel-reinforced concrete was poured into these holes to form the structural support. On top of these caisson shafts and pillars, an concrete pad foundation was built to support the building's spine. The building has 241 caissons, and the majority of the caissons only descend into hard clay. However, 57 of them go an additional into the ground, including of bedrock. The concrete spine uses five I-beam-shaped walls and exterior columns, narrowing to two as the building rises. Each floor is separated by a concrete slab, and stainless steel, glass, and aluminum panels are attached to each floor. of reinforcing steel bars, called rebar, support the hotel. The extensive use of concrete makes the building more fireproof. Of the $600 million construction budget, $130 million was earmarked for the James McHugh Construction Co, who handled the concrete-only portion of the job.
Two earlier business decisions by the Chicago Sun-Times led to substantial savings of time and money during the Trump Tower's construction. The original 1950s sea wall was built by the newspaper company to bomb-shelter thickness, to withstand a Cold War attack, and thus did not have to be broken down and rebuilt. Furthermore, the company decided in the 1970s to switch from petroleum-based to soy-based ink, which reduced ground pollution from the printing plant. This considerably reduces the costs and time for cleaning up the site prior to building.

On August 16, 2008, construction crews made the last major concrete pour to top off the Trump tower's concrete core, which was commemorated with an unofficial ceremony. To celebrate the milestone, a yellow tower crane raised a bucket full of concrete and an American flag to the rooftop of the skyscraper. Another ceremony occurred on August 19, when construction supervisors, structural engineers and company representatives from McHugh Construction made a minor concrete pour at the top of the Trump tower. Though Donald Trump was absent from both of these ceremonies, he, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump attended the topping off party on September 24, 2008. Original plans called for the windows to be completed and the spire erected in October 2008. However, the spire installation was delayed through high winds in December 2008, and was finally completed on January 3, 2009. Critical review of the spire by Kamin is that it is not aesthetically complimentary.

At the September 2008 topping off ceremony, Donald Trump marketed his hotel by expressing doubts about the Chicago Spiremarker ever being completed due to the financial crisis of 2007–2008. Trump's hotel was 25% unsold at the time of the ceremony, and was expected to need the mid 2009 construction loan extension that has caused legal complications. However, Donald, Jr. said that they were fortunate to complete the project, while the Spire and Waterview Towermarker were among developments hit by the economic slowdown that followed the financial crisis. Occupancy had begun on lower-floor condominiums at the time of the ceremony.

Residents are zoned to Chicago Public Schools. Residents are zoned to Ogden School and Wells Community Academy High School.

Popular culture

The building's planning and redesign led to publicity in local and national media both before and during its construction. For example, on September 19, 2007, the Trump International Hotel and Tower was featured on an episode of the Discovery Channel series Build It Bigger entitled "High Risk Tower". The final confrontation scene between Batman and The Joker in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight was shot at the construction site of the then partially-completed tower. The 2009 annual Countdown Chicago on ABC7marker, hosted by Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies was filmed on the roof of the hotel and in the Sixteen restaurant.

See also


  1. See the pictures within the architectural design option of the main menu at


  • Vaccaro, P.K. (2002). Modernist vocabulary: modernism is reemerging in what some consider a return to the true spirit of Chicago design. Urban Land, 61, 114–115, 118–121.
  • Rubin, S. (1984). Trump Tower. New Jersey: Lyle Stuart.
  • Keegan, E. (2005). Drama over Trump's Chicago tower. Architectural Record, 193, 37.

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