Sears Tower
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Architect Bruce Graham/ SOM
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Location Chicago, Illinois   map
Date 1974 to 1976   timeline
Building Type corporate headquarters, skyscraper, commercial office tower
 Construction System steel frame with bronze-tinted glass curtain wall
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Corporate Modern
Notes Now officially the "Willis Tower". At 1450 feet and 110 stories, the tallest building in the United States. Until recently the world's tallest building (surpassed by the Petronas Towers) and the highest occupied floor level in the world (surpassed by Taipei 101). 75-ft square tubes end at staggered levels to step back the overall massing.


Photo, exterior overview from a distance

Photo, exterior overview, looking up

Photo, exterior, base of tower


Available on The GBC CD-ROM.

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Discussion Sears Tower Commentary

"The Sears Tower [was] the world's tallest building. The stepback geometry of the 110-story tower was developed in response to the interior space requirements of Sears, Roebuck and Company. The configuration incorporates the unusually large office floors necessary to Sears' operation along with a variety of smaller floors. The building plan consists of nine 75 x 75 foot column-free squares at the base. Floor sizes are then reduced by eliminating 75 x 75 foot increments at varying levels as the tower rises. A system of double-deck express elevators provides effective vertical transportation, carrying passengers to either of two skylobbies where transfer to single local elevators serving individual floors occurs."

—from Bruce Graham. Bruce Graham of SOM. p56.

The Creator's Words

"Tall buildings are man-made. Towers have historically been not only the pride of their temporary owners, but of their cities as well. So the Sears Tower, one more mountain, was created for this city on the plains. Sears is very direct in its structural solution, a new concept of cluster tubes, originally fifteen, reduced to nine when the hotel was eliminated from the plan. The Sears Tower itself is much like the idea behind San Gimignano, but unlike most tall buildings in New York, it is a tower of the people, not the palace of a bank."

—Bruce Graham. from Bruce Graham. Bruce Graham of SOM. p56.


1450 feet tall (1468 or 1470 feet by some sources) — about 100 feet taller than the World Trade Center twin towers.
110 stories (109 stories by some sources)
4.4 million square feet — second in office space area only to the Pentagon

The plan consists of a square bundle of 9 square tubes, each 75 feet on a side. All nine tubes reach up through the 49th floor, where three terminate. Two more opposite corner tubes terminate at a slightly higher floor, two more end with the 91st floor, and two tubes extend to the full height.

Sources on Sears Tower

Judith Dupre. Skyscrapers. Black Dog and Leventhal, June, 1996. ISBN 1-8848-2245-2. — A fun and informative gift book in skyscraper format, 18" tall and 7.5" wide, with perfect pictures and key information on tallest buildings over the decades, up to the 1998 Petronas Towers. Available at

Bruce Graham. Bruce Graham of SOM. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1989. ISBN 0-8478-1087-9. LC 89-42 689. NA737.G715B7 1989. discussion p56.

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture, Volume 2. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. commentary, p411. aerial photo, f329, p413. — An excellent survey of American architecture. Reprint Edition available at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Sears Tower

Web Resources
Links on Sears Tower

The Sears Tower Home pageofficial site by the building owners.

Sears Tower at ArchiplanetFind, add, and edit info at the all-buildings collaboration

Chicago Hotels - Find hotels near the Sears Tower in Chicago.

We appreciate your  suggestions  for links about Sears Tower.

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