Before Donald Trump signed up for the presidential race, he signed his name to buildings. Lots of buildings. Sure, presidential candidates have owned property before. But no other candidate has been such an ostentatious developer of a property empire, with so many gilded phallic structures built in his likeness.
Let’s look at Trump’s Towers. Yes, there are other Trump architectural typologies: Trump Palaces, Trump Residences, Trump City Centers, Trump National Golf Courses, Trump Parks, and Trump Parcs (as well as a loooooooong list of properties which have been sold, abandoned, or were never built). Seventeen properties bear the Trump name in New York City alone. But many of them he doesn’t even own, even if his name is clinging to the side, because he licenses his name to developers. It’s a savvy move on his part: he can duck out of projects financially and still give the illusion his kingdom is growing.
Although Trump’s real estate reach is wider than the ideological gap between him and most American voters, I decided to focus on the towers that were either built from scratch or completely remade by the man. Here’s a quick world tour of the most notable towers of Trump.
Trump Tower | New York City
The mothership. Photo via Google Street View
Perhaps the most famous of all Trump’s real estate holdings, this Midtown Manhattan skyscraper is where he announced his presidential campaign last June. It’s also where a loaded potato skin announced its presidential campaign in July.
Height: 66 stories
Architect: Der Scutt, Swanke Hayden Connell
Signature Motifs: Gold mirror glass, gold marble, gold signage, gold
Famous Tenants: Bruce Willis, Gucci, NikeTown
Controversies: Trump promised to give the Metropolitan Museum of Art two ornate sculptures from the Art Deco building he destroyed to build the tower — but after the cost to restore them was revealed they were mysteriously jackhammered instead. Then he was slapped with a class-action lawsuit after it was discovered that 200 undocumented Polish workers were paid almost nothing and lived at the construction site. He was allowed to increase the height of the tower by a third in exchange for turning the atrium into public space but has been fined for violating the public nature of the space, including turning the atrium into an altar to himself with establishments including Trump Grill, the Trump Café, and the Trump Store.
Political Leverage: The Trump Store in the lobby sells his signature hats reading “Make America Great Again”.
Trump International Hotel & Tower | New York City
Really hasn’t aged well. Photo via Google Street View
For years, many celebrities have made their home at Trump’s poshest address (1 Central Park) on Columbus Circle.
Opened: 1997 (the original building was built in 1969)
Height: 52 stories
Architect: Thomas E. Stanley was the original architect, however, under Trump’s ownership it was given an entirely new curtain wall by Philip Johnson and Costas Kondylis.
Signature Motifs: Gold, gold mirror glass, gold chandeliers
Controversies: Apparently it’s tough getting pipes fixed if you live there.
Political Leverage: A lot of potential rich donors up in there, maybe he should fix those pipes.
Trump International Beach Resort | Sunny Isles, Florida
Making waves in Florida. Photo via Google Street View
Trump’s no stranger to Miami where he owns golf courses and hotels, and once sold a Palm Beach house for $95 million.
Height: 32 storeys
Architect: Seiger Suarez
Signature Motifs: To help New Yorkers feel like they never left home, the hotel has helpfully included a miniature replica of the statue found in Columbus Circle.
Famous Tenants: Lots of NFL and NBA players
Controversies: Not much here, but Trump has come under fire for other shady Florida real estate deals.
Political Leverage: Helpful foothold to help unseat Republican opponent Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Trump International Hotel | Las Vegas
A gamble. Photo via Google Street View
While holidaying in Sin City you may have been blinded by the desert sun reflecting in this gaudy glittering jewel.
Height: 64 storeys
Architect: Bergman, Walls & Associates
Signature Motifs: Gold mirror glass, gold signage, giant gold Ts everywhere
Famous Tenants: The DJT Restaurant (bet you can’t guess that those letters stand for)
Controversies: The sales centre built on the site before the building went up cost $3 million. Trump announced in 2008 that due to the overwhelming success a second tower would be built, but this has never materialised.
Political Leverage: He can throw a heck of a pool party fundraiser here.
Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower | Panama City, Panama
Not as much in his likeness. Photo by Mariordo
Four years ago, Panama City was graced with Trump’s decidedly non-phallic tower which is the tallest building in the city.
Height: 70 storeys
Architect: Arias Serna Saravia
Signature Motifs: Vagina
Famous Tenants: Whoever they are, they’re probably at the private beach club on nearby Viveros Island.
Controversies: Loan defaults. Trump was disinvited to the building’s opening because he said the US “gave away the Panama Canal for nothing”. Accusations that the building’s design copied a famous hotel in Dubai went to court.
Political Leverage: Panamanians in the US have not taken kindly to Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants.
Trump Towers Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey
Euro Donald. Photo via Google Street View
These twin towers are Trump’s first foray into European property.
Height: 66 storeys
Architect: Brigitte Weber Architects
Signature Motifs: Glass curtain wall
Famous Tenants: 15,000 bottles of wine stored there as part of the world’s largest community wine cellar
Controversies: One of his business partners had his yacht raided by helicopters off the Turkish coast and was found to be trafficking young women.
Political Leverage: Absolutely none.
Trump International Hotel & Tower | Toronto, Canada
If you move to Canada... he’ll still be there. Photo via Google Street View
Trump’s foothold in Toronto is currently the tallest residential building in Canada.
Height: 65 storeys
Architect: Zeidler Roberts Partnership
Signature Motifs: Wait, he’s doing silver now!
Famous tenants: Canadians
Controversies: A year after opening the sign on the very top of the tower only read “TRUM” and a public art piece promised to the city was not installed. As a matter of fact, the antenna on top was deemed unsafe and streets were closed around the tower.
Political Leverage: Not much, but Americans who say they’re moving to Canada when Trump gets elected president can move here.
Trump Tower | Chicago
The newest of Trump’s Towers (and why they’re just putting the sign up here in Google Street View).
Height: 89 storeys
Architect: Adrian Smith, when he was at SOM
Signature Motifs: Silver, glass curtain wall, Big Ass Sign™
Famous Tenants: Sanjay Shah, founder of Vistex, bought the penthouse for $17 million. It’s also the second-tallest residence in the Western hemisphere.
Controversies: Chicago planners did not want the gigantor “TRUMP” sign to ruin the view from the river and asked for the size to be reduced by 20 per cent. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin criticised the sign, calling it “as subtle as Godzilla,” which caused Trump to call him a “lightweight”. However, now that the sign is up, Kamin notes that in the right light, it looks like it says RUMP.
Also, site of an actual garbage fire in February 2016.
Political Leverage: Hmmmm. Ask Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Note: This post has been updated now that Donald Trump smashed Super Tuesday and appears increasingly likely to have a shot at running America in 2016. Enjoy!