Few buildings are as iconic as Willis Tower. Generations have a collective memory of this building playing a role in their lives, but time had caught up with this aging supertall. The way the building engaged with the city needed a fresh approach and understanding how Willis Tower is being reimagined by new owners is crucial to the success of old and new supertall towers. Sustainability, façade performance and reducing embodied carbon are at the heart of the transformation of Willis Tower. A new city block-sized podium structure, massive green roof with a grid shell dome, custom solid steel window systems, substantial infrastructure improvements and a façade artwork collaboration with the Olafur Eliasson are part of this case study. Glass selection was a critical part of the design team’s approach to making a more transparent urban statement at the base of this iconic tower and extending the public’s views up to the top. The resulting open and transparent new podium façade welcomes people in beyond the end of the workday while striking a balance with historic preservation. These are critical factors that go into sustainable efforts to save older tall buildings, many of which are too big to fail or replace from an economic standpoint. This paper and presentation will provide insight into the sustainable façade and glass performance design process, material choices, contractor coordination efforts and challenges for a new benchmark in tall building revitalization.
Bringing an Icon Into the Future: Willis Tower
Company: Gensler, Chicago, USA | American Institute of Architects, Chicago, USA
About the speaker:
Stephen Katz is a Senior Associate and Technical Director at Gensler. Stephen has worked and lectured in the US, Asia and Europe and has authored papers about façade design and sustainability. Stephen is the founder of Gensler Enclosures and has worked on award winning projects including the JCI Asia-Pacific Headquarters and the Willis Tower Repositioning Project. Stephen is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the AIA National Building Performance Advisory Group and is a LEED Accredited Professional. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hobart College and a Master of Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis.