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The Chicago Spire: You loved the building, now buy the soundtrack





 -by Lynn Becker

[January 16, 2008] - What do the Song of the Dwarves and Santiago Calatrava's 2,000-foot-high tower have in common?


The Magic of America, by Marion Mahony Griffin


Many things can be said about Irish developer Garrett Kelleher, but you can't say he does anything on the cheap.

More of that in a moment, but first, as those of you have been saving up your pennies Calatrava Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architectundoubtedly already know, after a four month delay caused by regulatory hurdles, you can finally belly up to the bank and put in for your piece of the Chicago Spire, the twisting, 2,000 tower designed by architect Santiago Calatrava and produced by Kelleher's Shelbourne Development. A 534-square-foot brm clst w vu can be yours for $750,000, or, just want to indulge your inner Robb Report, how about a two-floor penthouse, $40 mil FOB.

And remember, that's denominated not in Euro's not in Yuans, but in bargain-priced USD's! Let the imploding U.S. economy work for you! Or at least that's how high-Chicago Spire under construction, Santiago Calatrava, architectend real estate jockeys Savills Residential will probably attempt to grab the buyers in "Dublin, Moscow, Singapore, Dubai and Cape Town" whom Kelleher hopes will snap up a huge chunk of the Spire's 1,194 units. Location may be the main thing when it comes to real estate, but timing has to run a close second, and for Savill to be launching its "global marketing drive" later this month, just as the dollar scrapes historic lows, shows that, for the moment at least, Kelleher continues to live a charmed a life.

Shelbourne's press release claims 600 potential fleecees prospects have already booked appointments to tour the 20,000-square-foot sales center, complete with "full-scale recreations of apartment interiors and original artworks by Calatrava," that overlooks the construction site from the 18th floor of the NBC Tower.

But back to Impresario Kelleher. Not only did he commission Lightstream Pictures and Imageworks, Sony Picture's digital arm, to produce InSpire, the animated Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architectrendering of the Spire that you can now see on the Chicago Spire website, he also engaged Thomas Chance, composer for such blockbuster video games as The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, X-Men and, of course, The Chubbchubbs!.

Chance's score tries to do for the Spire what Gershwin did for 1920's Manhattan: wrap it in an aural mist of urban romanticism. (I'm partial to the big climax in the adagio of Khachaturian's ballet Spartacus, myself, but Carter Burwell already cribbed it, to superb effect, for the Coen Brothers' Hudsucker Proxy.)

You can listen to Chance's score here. Click the Spotlight tab in the player, and you'll find InSpire at the top of the list, just ahead of Song of the Dwarves (they sound a bit like the guards of the Wicked Witch of West, slowed down from 78 to 33 1/3.) The InSpired track is decidedly new-age-y, woodwinds and piano, a wordless, ethereal chorus. Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architectThe video starts out with the entrance of the strings. We stand at the base of the Spire, beneath its huge supporting legs, and climb, King-Kong-like and with piano accompaniment, up the full height of the tower, sprouting monkey-wings as we pull back to an ever wider-view that ends, to the sound of the awed chorus tastefully oohing and aahing, at a spectacular night-time rendering, from a mile out into Lake Michigan, of the Spire glowing warmly in the center of the eclipsed lesser marvels of the Chicago skyline, a stream of tiny headlights pulsing along the length of Lake Shore Drive.
Chicago Spire, Santiago Calatrava, architect
See the video here. Hear the music (click on styles) here. Full coverage on the Spire here.

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Renderings: Shelbourne Development
© 2008 photos and text Lynn Becker All rights reserved.

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