Sears Tower

views updated May 14 2018

Sears Tower

The Sears Tower looms over downtown Chicago, an unmistakable symbol of the city's pride in its heritage as the birthplace of a uniquely American concept, the modern skyscraper. Built in 1974 to a height of 1,468 feet, the Sears Tower succeeded the Empire State Building as the world's tallest building, and held that title until 1996. The building was designed by the distinguished and world famous firm of architects, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to serve as the corporate headquarters for Sears Roebuck and Company. Its architectural style, while incorporating significant engineering advances, relates back to the impersonal glass boxes of the 1950s and 1960s rather than looking forward to the more idiosyncratic towers of the 1980s and 1990s. Though large and impressive, the building never quite captured the hearts of Chicago's citizens in the way that the city's John Hancock Center did. Nevertheless, the Sears Tower epitomizes the bustling prairie metropolis that Carl Sandburg called the "City of Big Shoulders."

—Dale Allen Gyure

Further Reading:

Douglas, George H. Skyscrapers: A Social History of the Very Tall Building in America. Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, 1996.

Goldberger, Paul. The Skyscraper. New York, Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1992.

Sears Tower

views updated May 23 2018


SEARS TOWER was built in downtown Chicago as the headquarters of Sears, Roebuck & Co. It opened in 1974 as the world's tallest building, 1,474 feet, with 110 stories and 4.5 million square feet of office space. The building was designed by architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and constructed in only thirty months. Engineer Fazlur Khan structured the building as nine square tubes of varying heights, bundled together to resist high winds. Most Sears operations were moved to a suburban location

in 1995. In 1998, Sears Tower was officially surpassed as the world's tallest building by the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Pridmore, Jay. Sears Tower: A Building Book from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. San Francisco: Pomegranate, 2002.

Saliga, Pauline A., ed. The Sky's the Limit: A Century of Chicago Skyscrapers. New York: Rizzoli, 1990.


Sears Tower

views updated May 23 2018

Sears Tower a skyscraper in Chicago, the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1973. It is 443 m (1,454 ft) high and has 110 floors.