hotel occupancy

Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago)

The Trump International Hotel and Tower, also known as Trump Tower Chicago and locally as the Trump Tower, is a skyscraper condo-hotel under construction in downtown in the United States. Architect Adrian Smith, who worked for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill during the building's planning and design stages, designed the building, named after real estate developer Donald Trump. Bovis Lend Lease is building the 92-story structure to a height of including its spire, with its roof topping out at . It is adjacent to the main branch of the Chicago River with a view of the entry to Lake Michigan beyond a series of bridges that cross the river. The building received publicity when the winner of the first season of The Apprentice, 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. According to the current design, upon completion in 2009 it will be the second-tallest building in the United States after Chicago's Sears Tower, rising above the Empire State Building in New York City and Chicago's current second-tallest, the Aon Center, and third-tallest, the John Hancock Center. It is expected to be surpassed by the Freedom Tower in New York City in 2010 and by the Chicago Spire in 2011. Trump Tower will surpass the Hancock Center as the building with the world's highest residence above the ground until the Spire claims this title.

The design of the building includes, in order 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 accommodations and services. A restaurant on the 16th floor opened in early 2008 to favorable reviews for its cuisine, decor, location, architecture, and view.


The tower sits at 401 North Wabash Avenue in the River North District, part of the Near North Side community area of Chicago. The building occupies the site vacated by the Chicago Sun-Times, one of the city's two major newspapers. It is at the foot of Rush Street and close to numerous Chicago landmarks, sitting on the north side of the Chicago River just west of the Wrigley Building and the Michigan Avenue Bridge, and just east of Marina City and 330 North Wabash. This location borders the Michigan-Wacker District, 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 locations to the east along the river, such as the mouth of Lake Michigan, the Lake Shore Drive Overpass, and the Columbus Drive Bridge.

The building is across the Chicago River from the Chicago Loop, the city's business district. It is a block away from the southern end of the Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenue. The restaurant on the 16th floor 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 Tower, 333 North Michigan, and 360 North Michigan). The building's location in the River North Gallery District places it in the neighborhood with the most art galleries in the United States outside of Manhattan.


The design of the building incorporates three setbacks to give it a visual continuity with the surrounding skyline. Each of the setbacks is designed to reflect the height of a nearby building: the first was designed to align with the Wrigley Building, the second with the Marina City Towers, and the third with the 330 North Wabash building (formerly known as IBM Plaza); however, some views belie the alignment of the second setback. The setbacks and rounded edges of the building will combat vortex formation.

The building will contain of floor space, rise to 92 stories, and house 486 luxury residential condominiums. These will include studios, one- to four-bedroom units, and five-bedroom penthouse units. The tower also features a luxury hotel condominium with 339 guest rooms. The 3rd through 12th floors will house lobbies, retail space, and the parking garage, the 14th floor and its mezzanine host a health club and spa, the 17th floor through the 27th floor mezzanine contain hotel condominiums and executive lounges, the 29th through 85th floors will have residential condominiums, and the 86th through 89th floors will have penthouses. Plans call for a riverfront park and riverwalk along a space in the area surrounded by the hotel to the west, the Chicago River to the south, Rush Street and the Wrigley Building to the east, and River Plaza to the north.

The building will break the record for the world's highest residence, which has been held since 1969 by the nearby John Hancock Center. Because the Trump Tower has both hotel condominiums and residential condominiums, it will not contest the record held by the 80-story Q1 Tower in Gold Coast, Australia as the tallest all-residential building. The Chicago Spire, however, is set to break the records for tallest all-residential building and highest residence on its completion in 2011.



The hotel had originally planned to have a partial opening of three of its floors on December 3, 2007 with a grand opening to follow, but this was delayed until January 30, 2008, at which time four floors of guest rooms in the hotel opened. This included 125 of the 339 rooms. The opening was delayed until the City of Chicago granted occupancy approval for the staff of the hotel in the first 27 floors. By this time, construction on the exterior of the building had passed the 53rd floor. The grand opening of the entire hotel, including amenities, was originally scheduled for March 17, 2008, but took place on April 28, 2008. Initially, the hotel was charging higher room rental rates than the three five-star hotels on the Magnificent Mile. 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 is scheduled to open in Summer 2009 when construction is complete. 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 foyer is T-shaped, and the 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.

Executive Chef Frank Brunacci has worked in two AAA Five Diamond establishments, Diamond Victor's at The Ritz-Carlton in and The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia, and also at restaurants in London and Australia. In addition to using European techniques, he relies on spices from North Africa and India. The cuisine, decor and architecture have all drawn impressive reviews. Fodor's praised the food as a "unique fusion of European and Asian flavors". Some consider it more of a place to impress clients and dates, due to the perception of its association with Donald Trump and the restaurant's views, than a top–notch dining experience, with top-notch cuisine. Kamin remarks that although many are not as supportive of the entire structure as they are of the restaurant, the restaurant provides an opportunity for people to emulate Guy de Maupassant, who is said to have disliked the Eiffel Tower so much that he ate at the tower's restaurant daily so as not to have to look at its iron monstrosity.

Sixteen has a bar that Kamin complains has limited views, but that Chicago Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel says was pleasant. Fodor's notes that the views may cause you to overlook the food, but nevertheless endorses the food, especially the breakfasts. In addition to its entrees and appetizers, the restaurant has six-course and ten-course tasting options, with optional wine pairings.

The restaurant has been described as pricey, and one critic partly attributes the prices to Sixteen's status as a hotel restaurant. However, others feel the prices are appropriate for the ambiance created by the interior design, architecture, views, and association with Trump. According to Vettel, the prices are respectable given the overall experience.

Hotel bar

Located on the mezzanine level, the Rebar bar opened on April 18, 2008. It touts itself as a "Liquid Kitchen" due to its use of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. Two weeks after its opening, it was selected by David Himmel, a contributing editor to RedEye from Metromix, as the best new bar to take a date to. Himmel described Rebar as "sleek" and spoke highly of its eastward Chicago River views. The bar was named after the of reinforcing steel bars, called rebar, that support the hotel. Another Metromix contributing editor spoke highly of the views and described it as a hotel bar with a cozy feel. Rebar has both a main bar and a standing room only bar. One member of the WMAQ-TV Street Team commended it for its signature cocktails and sushi, while another gave kudos for the design and the stainless steel swizzle sticks that the bar calls "stirs". Rebar is equipped with a 25-person VIP room overlooking the lobby.


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 salts and the "Deluge shower". The gem massage uses an organic oil imported from Dubai, and a later reviewer mentioned a fourth gemstone (emeralds). The spa has also partnered with Kate Somerville, a Los Angeles skin care specialist with clients such as Jessica Alba, Kate Beckinsale, Debra Messing, and Nicole Richie. The deluge shower is described as "a waterfall that comes at you from all angles with color therapy" by one reviewer, although the Spa merely describes it as a "mood enhancing 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 glowing terms for both the treatment and the physical spa itself, but warned against expecting full enjoyment before construction was complete. During the summer of 2008, 53 spa guest rooms will 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 and of floor space and cost approximately $77 million for the entire property. Three architectural firms were in consideration for the building design: Lohan Associates, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Trump selected Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in August 2001, and Adrian Smith headed the Skidmore team. With Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Smith had previously designed the Jin Mao Tower and AT&T Corporate Center. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill had also designed the Sears Tower 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 meetings about erecting the world's tallest building in Chicago were occurring during the September 11, 2001 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 of the proposed skyscraper from 1999 shown in the Chicago Tribune in 2005.

The building's design by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill was first released in December 2001. However, the first design did not meet with approval from other architects and the residents of Chicago. A subsequent revision in July 2002 resulted in an 86-floor design for use as an office and residential structure that is similar to the current design, although the current design is for a different combination of uses. Smith's 2002 plans put broadcast antennas (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. Smith decided to top the building with an ornamental spire, instead of communications dishes, in his May 2004 plan. The communications dishes would not have counted toward the building's height, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, but the spire 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 Sears 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 Center, 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.

On March 17, 2005, construction began with the initiation of the process of sinking 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 Chicago River began seeping into the building site, which is adjacent to and partly below the level of the river. The water was entering through crevices in a corner where the wall meets the Wabash Avenue bridge. Divers discovered that the leak could not be sealed from the water side. After several other attempts to correct the problem failed, they "drove a steel plate next to the gap, dug out the space between and filled it with concrete", according to Bovis Lend Lease Construction Manager, Paul James.

In October 2005, a fleet of thirty concrete trucks made 600 trips to pour of concrete in a single 24-hour period to create the 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 largest privately owned ready-mix concrete company in the United States until it was acquired by Toronto-Based VCNA (Votorantim Cimentos North America) in February 2008. Prairie used a formula of concrete that has never been used in the business to meet the specifications, which exceeded the standard 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. There was extensive debate and publicity regarding the issue of whether advertising of this type should have been allowed. Two distinct pieces of legislation in 2002 and 2003 by the Chicago City Council had authorized the kiosk, but sidewalk billboards 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 only agreed 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 has been sued by former Chicago Sun-Times publisher F. David Radler and his daughters for rescinding all "friends and family" condominium purchases, including Radler's. Radler had negotiated the joint venture purchase of the property for the purpose of building the skyscraper. The purchase price had been at a 10% discount and required only a 5% deposit instead of the standard 15%. Radler and family were part of a group of 40 insiders who were able to purchase property at about $500 per square foot. When the market value of the property eventually rose to over $1300 per square foot, 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". Earlier in the same month, Ivanka Trump, his daughter and an executive of the company, 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 that Trump and his daughters had entered into, a group of four owners sued over revisions in the closing terms, which both place limits on the owner occupancy of condo hotel units and exclude the meeting rooms and ballrooms from the common elements that the owners have an interest in.

At the time of the partial opening, Trump and the hotel had still not come to terms with the hotel workers' union, Local 1 of UNITE HERE, which is the same union he uses for one New York City and three hotels. The disagreement is over the inclusion of food and beverage workers in the bargaining collective. The union disagreement continued for a few months.

On May 30, 2008, crane accidents occurred in Manhattan and Shanghai, killing two and three respectively. Subsequently, there was heightened awareness of the risks of both building cranes and skip hoists. Builders claim that they are under stricter building inspection and permit regulations in Chicago than almost any other American city. With cranes sitting atop approximately eighty floors of completed structure, the Trump International Hotel and Tower was considered to have the most visible crane in the city. In response to concerns about crane safety, representatives from the Chicago Department of Buildings and city officials say that there is often weekly inspection of the installation, use, and maintenance of tower cranes in Chicago and that the Trump International Hotel and Tower crane is inspected nearly every day because the building is partially occupied.


Bill Rancic, The Apprentice's season one winner, was originally hired to manage the project for a $250,000 salary as a result of his victory on the show on April 15, 2004. Rancic's title was President of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, but the title was a bit of a misnomer because he was learning on the job as an "Apprentice". Rancic's contract was renewed after his first year, but in September 2005 during his second year, it appeared that Trump and Rancic would not renew their employment contract. Donald Trump, Jr., who had been involved in the building since its earliest stages in 1999, was overseeing the construction with weekly visits in 2005, while Rancic worked on sales and marketing. In December 2005, Rancic made it clear that he wanted to continue working for Trump, and by April 2006 his contract was renewed for a third year. In 2006, Donald Trump's children began to assume prominent public roles as top executives 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 company. By the time the hotel opened in the building in January 2008, Donald Trump and his three adult children were overseeing the construction and standing in the spotlight.

Bovis Lend Lease, noted for work on Disneyland Paris, Petronas Towers, and the Time Warner Center, is the construction company. James McHugh Construction Co, the concrete subcontractor, is implementing a comprehensive formwork for the construction of the building. The building will be the tallest formwork structure in the world, and follows in the footsteps of its neighbor, Marina City, as well as Chicago's Two Prudential Plaza, as past recordholders. Concrete moulding is being used, because using a traditional ironwork structure would require a building footprint that would be too big for the property size, proportional to the height of the designed building. A steel frame would have to be wider to support 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 leverages more fluid liquid concrete facilitates 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 the 420 million-year-old limestone bedrock formation that is underground. It uses -wide stilt-like pillars that have been drilled beneath the building. Every around its perimeter, steel-reinforced cement 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 is earmarked for the James McHugh Construction Co, who is handling the concrete-only portion of the job.

A pair of business decisions by the Chicago Sun-Times saved a lot of construction time and money. During site preparation, the company avoided large cleanup costs because of the decision in the 1970s to switch from petroleum-based to soy-based ink, reducing ground pollution from the printing plant. Also, the original 1950s sea wall was built to bomb-shelter thickness to withstand a Cold War attack and thus did not have to be broken down and rebuilt.

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 plans to attend the spire-erecting ceremony in late September. On September 24, 2008 the Donald, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump were in Chicago to celebrate a topping off party. In October, the windows on the top floors will be completed and the spire will be erected. At the topping off ceremony, Donald Trump marketed his hotel by expressing doubts about the Chicago Spire ever being completed due to the Financial crisis of 2007-2008. The hotel was 25% unsold at the time of the ceremony and in mid 2009 it may need a construction loan extension, but Donald, Jr. said that they were fortunate to complete the project while the Spire and Waterview Tower were among the developments hit by the slowdown. Occupancy had begun on lower-floor condominiums at the time of the ceremony. Hotel occupancy was approximately 65% at $350/night, which was slightly lower than the four premium hotels at the northern end of the Magnificent Mile that were averaging $390/night but was more than much of the rest of the competition.

Pop 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". A scene from the 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight was shot inside.

See also




  • 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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