Trump Tower (401 North Wabash Avenue)

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401 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL

Trump Tower (401 North Wabash Avenue)

Trump Tower Chicago - another Supertall building for the skyline
Building Information
Developer Bovis Lend Lease
Architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
Number of Units 486
Number of Floors 92
Year Built 2009
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof IRMA
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401 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL, United States
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region Chicago
Municipality Chicago
Zoning PD 835
Title of Land Condominium



A shiny new neighbor in Chicago

Trump Tower at 401 North Wabash Avenue is yet another building in the long list of Donald Trump's portfolio. Topping out at 1,389 feet (423 m), and built in a modernist style, this latest development is categorized as a Supertall structure, as it exceeds the 300 m threshold of a Supertall definition. Even without its spire, the building still comes in at a height of 1,170 feet (360 m).

Numerous proposals for the development of this site where the former seven story Sun-Times Building sat, have been put forward over the last 10 to 12 years. As early as July, 2001, Donald Trump announced plans for a Supertall building of 460 m, or 1,500 feet. However, after the horrific events of 9/11, Trump scaled back the proposed height to about 78 stories, or 1,073 feet (327 m), still within the Supertall category.

Several more project iterations were presented over the next few years, however, disagreements from architects and disapproval from politicians prevented the project from launching.

The final phase of the purchase was completed on October 16, 2004. Shortly after, a ceremony took place to mark demolition of the old Sun-Times Building, and construction commenced in March of 2005 with the sinking of the building's first caisson into the 420 million year old limestone bedrock.

The construction of the building was not without its problems. In July of 2005, water was discovered leaking into the foundation from the river. Divers were unable to stop the leakage from the river side. Finally, after some other failed attempts, a steel plate was driven into the ground between the river and the structure. Once the earth between the two was excavated, concrete was poured in to seal the leak.

Trump Tower, also known as Trump Tower Chicago as well as the Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago), is a prominent new addition to the Chicago skyline as the world's seventh tallest building ... at the time of its completion. Record building heights seldom last long in this era of mega-construction all over the world.[1]



Trump Tower Chicago is located on the bank of the Chicago River less than half a mile from where the river lets out into Lake Michigan. It is on North Wabash Avenue as it crosses the Chicago River at the Irv Kupcinet bridge.

The building is in the heart of the downtown business area of Chicago close to downtown restaurants and bars, more than 30 within a 600 foot range. But of course the Trump Tower Chicago is part hotel, residents may also enjoy the services that an upscale hotel offers in the form of dining.

Across the river a short stroll away, lies the Chicago Loop, the business and commercial district of Chicago, second in size to only Midtown Manhattan. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Civic Opera House, Buckingham Fountain, the Chicago Theatre, and many other historic landmarks can be found in the Chicago Loop.[2]

For dinners in, groceries are steps from the door at City Groceries. Other selections and specialty food stores are within a third of a mile, less than 1800 feet. Schools abound within a one mile radius. From pre-schools to art schools, from early learning to universities, from alternative to prep schools, many, many choices are available.[3]


241 supports, called caissons, were driven into the ground at the excavated site of the former Sun-Times Building. These caissons would support the weight of the entire structure. Most were driven to a depth of 75 feet. However, 57 of them needed to go down to a depth of 110 feet, including 6 feet into the solid bedrock underneath the limestone layer.[4] Special high-strength concrete was formulated to meet a 10,000 psi rating specification. Conventional concrete has a standard rating of 7,000 psi (pounds per square inch). This never before used formula was used to unite these caissons with a steel reinforced concrete mat measuring 240 feet by 60 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The tower's core walls rest upon this mat.

What the crane operator saw

The specially formulated concrete was chosen over a steel skeleton in part due to cost saving, as steel had doubled in price the previous year, and in part because a traditional steel frame structure would have required an area larger by 25 feet in order to support the proposed building, estimated to weigh as much as 330,000 tons, or the the equivalent 240,000 cars, or four aircraft carriers.[5]

A new chemical technology was used to make concrete more fluid. This allows builders to pump concrete to a height of 1,700 feet, rather than the conventional 700 feet. This height will be more than enough to complete the 1,392 foot tall Trump Tower.

The shape of the building and the weight of the concrete pits the force of gravity against the force of the wind to withstand Chicago's sometime heavy breezes. Part of the design features three setbacks which provides visual continuity. The setback heights align with existing nearby buildings and the curtain is comprised of reflective low-emmissivity coated glass and clear anodized aluminum. Also incorporated into the curtain wall are brushed stainless steel spandrel panels.

Residential floors are from 28 through the 85th floor. Floor 86 through 89 have the penthouse apartments. 486 luxury residential condominiums are housed on these floors. The Trump International Hotel portion is contained on the 17th to 27th floors. The health club and its affiliated services starts on the 14th floor. Floors 3 to 12 contain the lobbies, retail areas and parking levels.

The communications spire was installed on January 9, 2009, after several aborted attempts due to those strong Chicago breezes. A large helicopter was used to place the completed spire atop the building to complete the project.

A time-lapse video of the the entire build is available in the References Section of this document.[6] Here are a few images of the creation of this building:

Layout and Features

As one comes to expect from the Trump brand, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago delivers. It is a luxurious mixed-use building housing a hotel, residential condominiums and retail space.

A high ceiling in the lobby greets hotel visitors and residents. The Spa at Trump offers relaxing massages, hydrating masques, exfoliating salts, and even a private couples treatment suite. An editorial review by Citysearch has described the spa as the "Bentley of hotel spas".

Rooms for residents range from studios to five bedroom penthouses. For fine dining, the restaurant called Sixteen is located on the 16th floor. Passageways are lined with floor to ceiling architectural bronze wine racks and views from the restaurant are considered "more intimate", rather than expansive.[7]

Views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding city are available depending which the side is being faced.

True to the branding that one expects from a Trump Hotel, there is 24 service at the door. The concierge can assist with many details large and small, simple or quirky. Ten foot ceilings and walk in closets enhance the sense of space.

Granite counter tops, custom vanities, over sized whirlpool baths, and marble or limestone flooring are some of the finishes used for the residences.[8]

Floor Plans

Some very elaborate floor plans have been included. Here are a few samples:


The list of amenities for residents and hotel guests is long. Here is a brief overview of some of the highlights:

  • Concierge and doorman
  • Health club and spa
  • Pool
  • Valet parking
  • Room service
  • Storage
  • Hotel restaurants
  • Housekeeping and laundry services (additional fees)


Trump Tower (401 North Wabash Avenue) Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No

  • Pets are OK. Some limits may be imposed
  • Rentals are permitted
  • There is no age restriction for ownership of a condominium


Trump Tower Chicago did not set out to follow "Green Building" standards. Experience has shown that to conform to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) guidelines for LEED Certification, buildings tend to cost more to construct.

Trump and his developer, Bovis Lend Lease had already taken steps to reduce costs in the construction of this building. One option was opting for a specially formulated mix of concrete over steel. Steel had doubled in price over the year before ground was broken and concrete had only increased about 14.5%. Concrete also had other advantages. It is heavier than steel causing the building to stand its ground more firmly during wind storms. It is also more fire resistant.

As such, it was not likely that this building would be completed following USGBC standards. Nevertheless, it is in compliance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidelines. Ventilation systems and mechanical equipment needed to supply clean outdoor air were found to meet minimum requirements set forth by the criteria described in ASHRAE Standards 62.1 and 90.1.[9]

Meanwhile, residents themselves may take up the mantle and participate in Chicago's recycling programs. The building has already installed energy efficient lighting and low flow Kohler fixtures. These steps help to contribute to a greener and more sustainable environment.


St. Patrick's Day on the Chicago River
  • The Chicago River is spanned by 38 movable bridges, down from a historical high of 52.
  • The river is dyed green on the annual event of St. Patrick's Day, where for one day, everyone is Irish.
  • Prior to 1900, the Chicago River drained sluggishly into Lake Michigan. Sewage from the growing population accumulated and typhoid was a serious threat. A man-made canal was cut through a low ridge about a mile inland from Lake Michigan. It joined the Mississippi watershed. After canal was finished, the flow of the river was reversed, augmented by a series of canal locks.[10]
  • On the north bank of the Chicago River is the Centennial Fountain. It shoots a massive water jet forming an arc right across the river for a ten minute period each hour. In 1989, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the "Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago". They are perhaps best known for reversing the flow of the Chicago River in 1900.
  • During construction of the Trump Tower Chicago, the concrete "mat" that serves as the base of the building and unites all the caissons was poured. It measures about 240 feet by 66 feet and is 10 feet thick comprised of the specially formulated concrete mix asble to withstand 10,000 psi of force. In 24 hours, 30 cement trucks made 600 trips and poured 5,000 cubic yards of concrete.
    • As concrete sets, a chemical reaction occurs creating heat. In a 'pour' as large as the one for this "mat", temperature differential between the outside areas and the deep interior of the "mat" may vary vastly - cooler outside and warmer inside. This presents a danger of thermal cracking during the setting period of the concrete.
    • Challenging specifications were given to the 'Ready Mix Supplier, Prairie Materials Sales, Inc. The specifications were set at a maximum of 80 degrees (F) during the pour and for concrete in place not to exceed 170 degrees (F). Additionally, the specification called for a strength of 10,000 psi at 56 days. Conventional concrete would reach temperatures of 200 degrees (F) at the center.
    • Prairie Materials used a self-consolidating concrete mix with super plasticizers included. It was a special cement that supported low water usage and the temperature of the pour never exceeded 77 degrees (F). Concrete in place did not rise above 155 degrees (F). The compression strength of the "mat" reached 9,950 psi at 7 days and was well over 12,000 psi at 28 days, all well within the guidelines set forth.
    • The "Big Pour", as the day has become known, is perhaps one of the largest continuous pours in the history of American construction.[11]


  1. Wikipedia - Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago)
  2. Wikipedia - Chicago Loop
  3. Walk Score
  4. Wikipedia - Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago)
  5. Chicago Tribune - March 27, 2005
  6. Trump Tower Chicago - YouTube video time-lapse of construction
  7. Wikipedia
  8. See Chicago Real Estate
  9. Engineering Thesis
  10. Wikipedia - Chicago River
  11. Wikipedia - Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago)

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