THE CHICAGO SPIRE : FOUNDATIONS
Perhaps no construction project over the last five years in the United States symbolizes our great economic collapse than that of the 2000 foot tall Chicago Spire designed by Santiago Calatrava. A short time from now the 1500 or so condominiums in the building were to have been sold and occupied over the course of the next year or two until the the financial world changed, credit dried up and the real estate markets all but collapsed. I was fortunate enough to know the developer Garrett Kelleher, and asked him if I could make a photographic record from the start to finish of his massive work and he agreed. What you see on this page of thumbnails does not in any way do justice to the scope and breadth of what was to be the tallest and potentially most spectacular modern architecture built in years in the United States. Image (#2) is the model in Garrett's office photographed on May 24, 2007, then in (#9) in September of 2007 we see the simple piece of steel with the vertical line on it which represents the very center of the great circular core of the structure. Image (#17) in early 2008 takes us down into the 100 foot deep center core hole, where the workers appear as tiny specs and finally in the last image (#32), after hundreds of millions of dollars spent, the abandoned site with its simple core hole as seen on August 25, 2008, with the just completed 94 story Trump Tower in the background. The saddest image for me is (#30), the green rectangle painted on the side of the very last deep caisson with the thoughts of all the workers and people involved in bringing this work so far along. They had such high hopes.
As a footnote, I happened to run into Garrett Kelleher a few months ago in Chicago on the corner of Armitage and Sheffield. We had coffee and reminisced a bit and got caught up. He told me he had until October 31 of this year to buy The Spire property back out of bankruptcy. I sent him and his publicist some of the images from the site and others I had made, with the hope that they might use them and help with their ongoing financing concerns. Well as they say, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray" and late last week it was reported that they were unable to raise the necessary funds to regain the site. So now all that exists are memories of what lay beneath the ground and what could or might have been. I never thought I would see the day when all that was left of The Spire were my photographs.