Willis Tower Commemorates 50 Years
Following transformative $500M redevelopment, Willis Tower celebrates milestone with series of community programs
EQ Office, Blackstone’s US office portfolio company, announced plans to celebrate Willis Tower’s golden anniversary and iconic status in Chicago’s skyline. Today marks 50 years since the landmark’s original topping-out ceremony, where it stood as the world’s tallest building for 23 years and today remains one of the most popular destinations for tenants and visitors from around the globe.
The Willis Tower of today is vastly different than its original form, which was brought to life in 1973 by the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) when Sears Roebuck and Company needed a central office space for its employees. With a $500 million redevelopment project completed last year, EQ transformed the 110-story building into a top destination for the surrounding community and next generation of talent.
Today, all are welcome to enjoy the offerings of Catalog, a new 300,000-square-foot retail, dining and entertainment destination constructed at the base of the tower that brings the best of Chicago into one bustling, light-filled space. Populating the destination are renown eateries such as Kindling from James Beard award winning chef, Jonathon Sawyer. Additionally, tenants and visitors can take a trip up to the completely reimagined Skydeck observatory for spectacular views of the city.
“As we experience this new era for Willis Tower, this is a moment to recognize our historic past while celebrating the future,” said Kirsten Ekdahl Hull, SVP, Portfolio Management, EQ Office. “Between our state-of-the-art office spaces, new restaurant options, sustainability enhancements and re-imagined Skydeck experience, we have approached this building as stewards of our community to ensure the Tower remains a fixture in Chicago for decades to come.”
Kathleen McCarthy, Global Co-Head of Blackstone Real Estate, said: “We are proud to have delivered a revitalized Willis Tower, preserving the building’s profile as an architectural treasure and positioning it to thrive for the future of work. Today, Willis Tower is so much more than an office building as it has been transformed into a destination for tenants, as well as tourists and locals alike.”
“For many Chicagoans, Willis Tower is emblematic of the fabric of this proud city,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “An anchor visible from all our diverse 77 neighborhoods, Willis Tower has stood the test of time over the last 50 years. Thanks to EQ Office’s stewardship of the building, it has been adapted to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workers and will stand tall for years to come.”
“Willis Tower has been an iconic piece of the city of Chicago for the last 50 years,” said Alderman Brendan Reilly. “The Blackstone and EQ Office teams achieved a tremendous accomplishment in transforming the building and cementing its space, not only as a symbol of our city, but as a destination for so many.”
Willis Tower is the largest building in the country to have achieved LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
To commemorate the semicentennial, Willis Tower will be rolling out a series of community programs anchored in the Tower’s newly redeveloped spaces including:
A Chicago Story Temporary Art Installation
In partnership with Elevation Worldwide, Willis Tower will be hosting a temporary art installation curated by Gary Green featuring local artists. Titled “A Chicago Story” and running Wednesday, May 3 – Thursday, August 10, the installation is a tribute to Chicago’s storied skyline and Willis Tower’s place in it. The exhibit stems from EQ’s Art of the Neighborhood initiative, drawing inspiration from the city’s creative energy to foster art programming throughout the property and support Chicago’s vibrant arts community.
Open House and Summer Series Kick-Off
On Thursday, June 15, join Willis Tower for an open house with Catalog specials, Chicago-centric performances, live music, and more. The celebration will take place in Catalog and the 4th floor outdoor terrace from 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The open house will also serve as a kick-off to Willis Tower’s Summer Concert Series, a bi-weekly event on Thursdays throughout the summer.
Antenna Lighting Social Media Contest
Between Monday, June 5 – Friday, June 9, Willis Tower is inviting all to share their favorite memory or experience at the Tower on Instagram. The winning selection will have the opportunity to light the building antenna the color of their choice.
For more information about Willis Tower's anniversary and to RSVP for events, visit http://www.willistower.com/fifty.