Sears Tower

1 January 2017

There is something romantic about this building- its tall frame, its minimal design, the elegant black bands running around the building, the use of tinted black aluminum curtain with bronze tinted glazing, the bundled tubular form etc etc. I have always been a fan of minimalism, courtesy Mies Van Der Rohe, and I have a thing for buildings with the ‘skin and bones’ kind of appeal, a characteristic found essentially in the design of this building.

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It is almost like nudism in art, only that the canvas is 110 story tall. The form speaks for itself, and there is no articulation, almost like saying ‘Love me or Hate me, but this is me’. But yes, the Sear’s tower certainly has the ‘Less is More’ kind of appeal. You certainly cannot compare it to any of the ‘freaky, eccentric’ architecture in Dubai, with its Disneyland inspired buildings. The Sears tower has its own class, it is like Al Pacino- It is a legend.

Keeping the Form of the building aside, The Sears Tower has served for decades as a triumph of engineering. The tower is essentially a series of nine tubes, bound together. Think of it as a pack of cigarettes with each tube rising higher than the rest. The shortest tubes are 50 stories, the second set rises to 66, the third set to 90, and the final to 110 stories. At the mechanical floors are extra trusses which act like belts wrapping around the building and helping counteract the forces of strong winds.

The structure of this tower was designed by the Late Fazlur Khan, who was a partner in SOM. He is the first person to introduce the bundled tubular structure in 1973 leading to development of non-box like forms in buildings. With the new Sustainability measures being brought in by the new Owners of the Sears Tower, I was pleasantly surprised with the fact that it is moving with the times. Nobody likes to run a vintage car with a fuel guzzling mileage. I really hope this car is ready for its second innings.

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