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Calatrava's Chicago Spire Looking for Persons of Interest





[September 26, 2007] Look, but you can't buy - at least not yet. Santiago Calatrava's design for the Chicago Spire continues to evolve.

 -by Lynn Becker



It takes a second to grasp - that bus shelter ad you're staring at isn't hawking the usual beer or vodka, or Bridezillas on WE tv, but the million-dollar condominiums in what's slated to become North America's tallest building, the 2000-foot-high Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect, bus shelter adChicago Spire, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava.

Except you can't actually buy one yet. As reported by Crain's Chicago Business, the original September 27th start date for developer Garrett Kelleher to begin selling the 150-story tower's almost 1,200 units has been pushed back to January, 2008. According to Crain's the delays stems from unfinished paperwork for regulations mandated by 1968's Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, which governs condo projects with more than 100 units being sold more than two years in advance.

So, for right now, the best you can do is "express an interest" in the structure, which can be done at the Spire's website , which is definitely going for the understated look. Kelleher has said he expects to market the units internationally, enlisting the London firm of Savills, known for its campaigns for extreme high end properties, to manage the campaign.

The international focus is reflected in the website's language set, soliciting interested Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect, home page of websiteparties' "Forename" and "Surname", as well as the "Nature of Enquiry." (If you lost your forename as an infant, muddle through the best you can.) As with the bus shelter ad, the home page eschews the vulgarity of actually showing the building, although there are a dozen renderings available for viewing inside. The shelter ad substitutes one of the flowers Calatrava uses to explain his design's derivation from natural forms.

Inspired by Nature. Imagined by Calatrava- now, that's branding. "The Chicago Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect, rendeirng of lobbySpire is a Collection of Extraordinary and Individual Residences That the Fortunate Few [all 2,000 of you] Will Be Able to Call Home."

Crain's reports that tomorrow, September 26th, there's to be a media preview to reveal interiors and pricing, along with an invitation-only party. A spokeswoman for Kelleher's Shelbourne Development cited Calatrava's work on the various interiors as another factor in delaying the marketing start date.

The renderings on the website show continuing evolution in Calatrava's design. There's a shift from depicting the building as blue, blue, blue to newer renderings of the base that finds both the windows and the ceiling of the large lobby in tan earth tones.

That could be just a matter of artistic license. Also changing, however, are the massive concrete piers at plaza level. In previous renderings, they receded visually into the curtain wall; now they stand out much more emphatically, and are smooth surfaced rather than serrated.

Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect, comparative renderings

So, the bad news: no matter how desperately you may want it, you can't buy a Spire condo yet. (And Kelleher has to continue to shoulder ongoing construction costs without any offsetting revenue stream.) The good news: you've got three months to start emptying your pocket change into a jar.

[September 26, 2007] Postscript: Crain's Chicago Business carries a report on today's media tour of the Chicago Spire sales office in NBC Tower. For $40,000,000 you can get a 10,000 square-foot penthouse condo; for $750,000 a bottom-end 543-square-foot starter unit. The average per-square-foot cost of a bit under $2,000 marks a new top price point in Chicago. The NBC Tower sales office will allow prospective buyers to walk through a model bearing the imprint of Calatrava's design flourishes, and is scheduled to open on January 14th.

Some renderings from the Shelbourne Development website:

Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect, view to northeast
Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect, rendering of model bedroom
Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect, rendering of model living room

BONUS POP QUIZ: What do the Chicago Spire and Marina City have in common?
A: How about Dick's Last Resort?
Barring some major catastrophe, when the Spire's millionaires move in a couple years from now, they'll have ready access to food by the bucket, beer by the gallon, and hats shaped like a penis placed on their heads by the surly wait staff at the Dick's Last Resort outpost just steps away, on Ogden Slip. Not to be outdone, the management of the commercial properties at Marina City are also bringing Dick's into a long-vacant space that was home to Johnny Lattner's Restaurant in the city-within-a-city's early glory days. Building residents and visitors alike will soon be able to start off with the soft stuff - effete wine sipping at Bin 36 - and then descend head-first into serious binge drinking just a short trip (or stumble) down the stairs. Bertrand Goldberg would be so proud.


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© Copyright 2007 Lynn Becker All rights reserved.

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