Chicago Might Plug its Giant Hell Pit With a Highway-Straddling Skyscraper

By Alissa Walker on at

Nearly a decade ago a giant hole was punched into the Chicago landscape and subsequently abandoned. Here’s a plan to make that hole a lot less holey.

Chicago Might Plug Its Giant Hell Pit With a Highway-Straddling Skyscraper

Hellooooooo? (Image: Santiago Calatrava - Chicago Fordham Spire 停擺之工地)

The 33-metre-wide, 23-metre-deep hole was dug with the best intentions. It was supposed to house the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere, Santiago Calatrava’s Chicago Spire. But the development succumbed to the recession and the gaping void never got filled. It just sat there, mouth agape. For almost 10 years.

Chicago Might Plug Its Giant Hell Pit With a Highway-Straddling Skyscraper

Image by Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn, of UrbanLab, courtesy of Chicago Magazine

There were some great ideas for what to do with the hell pit, like turn it into the world’s deepest/scariest swimming pool, but eventually the city just planted more trees around it and tried to forget it ever happened.

Chicago Might Plug Its Giant Hell Pit With a Highway-Straddling Skyscraper

The hole thing. (Image: Gensler)

Now architecture firm Gensler has proposed a brand-new take on the Chicago Spire. No, it’s not really a spire, it’s more like an ironing board propped up over the city. But those straddling limbs of the Gateway Tower, as Gensler calls it, would also serve as a tourist attraction, connecting to the city’s existing Riverwalk and shuttling people directly up to a sky deck that’s 600 metres in the air.

As for the role of the hole, it’s not entirely clear. Perhaps the architects need all that depth to bear the weight of the entire 600-metre building. Maybe visitors who board the special elevators to the sky deck will be plunged deep into the hole first before they’re then rocketed up the supertall, like an architectural drop zone ride.

One thing is for certain. Anything is better than a hell pit. [Dezeen]