Office N Illinois

Renovations continue as iconic Willis Tower alters its streetscape

Construction crews give Willis Tower a face lift, removing the main entrance lobby as part of the building’s $500 million renovation. Photo courtesy Equity Office. Construction crews give Willis Tower a face lift, removing the main entrance lobby as part of the building’s $500 million renovation. Photo courtesy Equity Office.
Construction crews give Willis Tower a face lift, removing the main entrance lobby as part of the building’s $500 million renovation. Photo courtesy Equity Office. Construction crews give Willis Tower a face lift, removing the main entrance lobby as part of the building’s $500 million renovation. Photo courtesy Equity Office.
A rendering of the new lobby, scheduled for completion summer 2019. A rendering of the new lobby, scheduled for completion summer 2019.

Crews working on Chicago’s Willis Tower have removed the notable “lunchbox” at the base of the high rise. This is part of the building’s $500 million renovation of the skydeck, lobby and streetscape scheduled for a summer 2019 completion. According to Equity Office, the the Blackstone Group-owned management firm for the building, 180 tons of metal and glass will be recycled as the main entrance is demolished.

The arched, glass atrium was not original to the tower, but added years later in an effort to improve visitor interaction with Chicago’s tallest building. The new renovations aim to take that further with 300,000 square feet of new retail, entertainment space and both five-star and casual restaurants. A winter garden will cap the lobby with an undulating, glass atrium and a 30,000-square-foot public outdoor space.

New York-based Blackstone Group, who bought the iconic building in 2015 for a record price, recently borrowed $305 million, the building’s second refinancing in a year. The building has seen a spateof newleases in that time, as occupancy has grown from about 77 to 90 percent.