This article originally appeared in Curbed Chicago on September 13, 2018.
A plan to create a new retail, dining, and entertainment destination at the base of Chicago’s 110-story Willis Tower came into clearer focus on Thursday as property owner Blackstone Group and EQ Office unveiled new info and images of the $500 million project.
Now known as “Catalog”—a nod to the tower’s former name and most famous tenant, the Sears Roebuck Company—the addition includes a food hall from Urbanspace, an undulating glass skylight, rooftop green space, and a somewhat vague “immersive-entertainment experience.”
The wraparound annex will span more than 300,000 square feet across five levels (two below the street plus three above). It comes from the Chicago offices of global architecture firm Gensler and will be visited by the 15,000 people that work in the building, the more than 1.7 million tourists that visit to the tower’s observatory each year, and a growing number of residents moving to the Loop,
The overhaul of the skyscraper’s base was unveiled in early 2017 and has been under construction for nearly a year. Crews demolished the building’s “lunchbox” entrance pavilion along Wacker Drive and have started assembling Catalog’s steel frame. The 110-story tower is also adding new tenant amenities, a modernized elevator system, updated lighting for its iconic twin antennas.
Catalog is expected to be complete in mid-2020. Meanwhile, a possible renovation and two-story expansion of the tower’s popular 103rd-floor Skydeck attraction is said to be on the drawing board. Specific details regarding the observatory overhaul have yet to be released to the public.