The Willis Tower continues to excel in pioneering architectural redevelopment.
In this article, I will show you how Willis Tower succeeded with its historic redevelopment by Blackstone.
The Willis Tower is a 108-story, 1,451-foot skyscraper, once known as the world’s tallest building for 25 years.
This building, with its black aluminum and bronze-tinted glass, has come to represent Chicago, a city that is passionate about its architecture.
It served as the model for the current generation of extremely tall structures.
Under one roof, the tower houses all of the city's energy.
It offers welcoming hospitality and enduring experiences from ground to sky.
It is a downtown urban destination that offers Chicago residents and tourists the best opportunities for both business and life.
The $500-million redevelopment of the Willis Tower was completed in May 30, 2022.
This project gained the Willis Tower LEED Platinum status, the largest building in the U.S. to have done so.
This iconic tower in the heart of downtown Chicago, Willis Tower offers awe-inspiring views of Chicago and Lake Michigan.
And its 103rd-floor Skydeck attracts more than 1.7 million visitors annually.
So let’s get into business. Why did Blackstone redevelop Willis Tower?
Why did Blackstone redevelop Willis Tower?
Blackstone purchased Willis Tower for $1.3 billion in 2015.
Then in early 2017, Blackstone and EQ Office announced the redevelopment project, the biggest in the building’s history.
The mission of the redevelopment was to create an all-season, urban destination that brings the surrounding community together and creates a true neighborhood that is the heart of downtown Chicago.
And the main reasons for this move by Blackstone are: a) to adapt to changes in office culture, and b) to compete with the Loop real estate market.
A. to adapt to changes in office culture due to the pandemic and remote work
It is undeniable that the pandemic has resulted in several adjustments in all aspects of work.
The remote work revolution surged during the pandemic and led to the latter part of the redevelopment process of the Willis Tower.
Willis Tower changed to adapt to the changes brought about by the pandemic.
“The reinvented Willis Tower is a perfect example of what we believe the future of work looks like,” said Kathleen McCarthy, Global Co-Head of Blackstone Real Estate. “We are proud that, as a result of this project, Willis Tower will continue to thrive as a place where some of the world’s best companies and their brightest minds come together while serving as a wonderful space for the community in downtown Chicago.”
B. to compete with the Loop real estate market
The Willis Tower’s redevelopment gave it an edge in the Loop real estate market.
As always, Willis Tower is a pioneer in Chicago. Now it seeks to lead the trend of transitioning office towers to branded consumer lifestyle experiences.
It intends to reinvigorate downtowns.
With so many other buildings in the Loop, the Willis Tower faces its challenges with the add-more-amenities approach.
It seeks to entice tenants, residents, and investors with hybrid semi-public urban features.
Now let’s check out the different components of Willis Tower.
Components of the Redeveloped Willis Tower
The first part of the redevelopment is the Catalog which derives its name from the Sears Roebuck Company and its popular printed catalog.
It is located at the base of the tower with curated restaurants such as Tortazo by Rick Bayless, Shake Shack, Joe & the Juice, Foxtrot, Starbucks, Brown Bag Seafood Co., Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken, Sushi-San and Sweetgreen.
And it is the home of the largest Chicago meeting and event provider Convene.
It will also have Kindling, a live-fire, two-story restaurant from Chicago’s 50/50 Group, Urbanspace, a food hall featuring a vast lineup of culinary entrepreneurs delivering unique concepts catered to the neighborhood, and Color Factory, a permanent experiential art exhibit.
B. Outdoor Terrace
Another must-see is the rooftop terrace of Catalog!
It provides WiFi, lots of space to sit, a green lawn and walking routes, as well as accessible bathrooms.
There isn't a finer spot to work, eat, or relax.
It also showcases EQ Office’s commitment to sustainability through the 60,000 bees and three beehives on the terrace.
Willis Tower partnered with Marwen, a local organization that educates and inspires young people from under-resourced communities through the visual arts, to decorate the hives.
On The Ledge, which extends over four feet from the Skydeck and 1,353 feet above Wacker Drive, you can step outside the tallest observation deck in the US.
It now features an interactive “best of Chicago” museum-like exhibit before visitors board the elevators to the tower’s famed 103rd-floor observation deck.
D. Public Spaces
The Willis Towers opens more public spaces where residents and guests alike can enjoy the place freely apart from the entertainment areas.
These hospitable lobbies showcase local artists and installations by world-renowned artists Olafur Eliasson and Jacob Hashimoto.
This is a clever way to boast the tower’s amenities, by providing more open spaces for the public.
E. Tenant-Exclusive Amenity Spaces
Despite it being open to public guests and visitors, the tower also has separate amenities to offer for exclusive tenants who wish to enjoy their private spaces with one another.
A vast array of tenant-only seminars, panels, and workshops designed to inspire creativity, promote collaboration and promote success. This includes the Tower House Bar and Café and Steel Room, located on level 33, TONE fitness center, Altitude Café, and The Metropolitan.
The Willis Towers is becoming more popular as it becomes more inclusive and open to the public. Its mixed-use structure offers many opportunities and allows its residents and guests to enjoy different things all at once and other amenities that can be found in one place.
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