Willis Tower Fast Facts


(FILE PHOTO) The Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Towers, is shown in this file photo.

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Here’s some background information about Willis Tower, located in Chicago. Formerly the Sears Tower, it is now named for its tenants, the Willis Group Holdings.

The visitors’ observation deck, called the “Skydeck,” is located on the 103rd floor.

Other Info: The Sears Tower was the world’s tallest building until 1996, when it was surpassed by the Petronas Twin Towers.

100 tallest completed buildings in the world.

25,000 people enter the skyscraper every day.

1.3 million visitors go up to the Skydeck each year.

The Skydeck elevator can travel to the Skydeck in one minute, ten seconds.

Characteristics: Structural Height – 1,450 feet or 110 floors

Height with the two antennas – 1,730 feet

Height to Skydeck/103rd floor – 1,354 feet

Lowest level – 43 feet below Franklin St.

Building Size – 4.56 million gross square feet

Weight – 222,500 tons or 445 million pounds

Cost to build – $150 million

Windows – 16,100

Building exterior – black aluminum and bronze-tinted glass

Architectural firm – Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Architect – Bruce Graham

Structural Engineer – Fazlur Khan

Timeline: 1970 – Construction begins.

May 3, 1973 – Construction is completed, the last floors are “topped out.”

1973 – The Sears Tower is open to tenants.

1974 – The Skydeck opens to the public.

1994 – Sears, Roebuck and Co. sells the building to Aldrich, Eastman & Waltch.

1996 – The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, surpass the Sears Tower in height to become the world’s tallest buildings at 1,483 feet each. The Sears Tower becomes the world’s third tallest building, at the time (behind Petronas Tower 1 and Petronas Tower 2).

December 3, 1997 – AEW Partners LP sells the building to Canadian real estate firm, TrizecHahn Corp.

August 28, 2003 – MIAC (Metropolitan Insurance and Annuity Company), an affiliate of MetLife, purchases the tower.

March 2009 – The owners of the Sears Tower announce that the building will be renamed Willis Tower in 2009, after new tenant Willis Group Holdings.

July 2009 – Skydeck’s attraction, the Ledge, opens on the 103rd floor. It is a series of glass bays, with glass floors, that extend 4.3 feet outwards from the building. Visitors can now look directly down 1,353 feet to the street below.

August 2009 – The Sears Tower is officially renamed Willis Tower.

January 2010 – The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, U.A.E., becomes the world’s tallest building measured at 2,717 feet, making Willis Tower the world’s fifth tallest building, at the time.

May 28, 2014 – Cracks develop in the protective coating on the Ledge attraction. Officials say no one was ever in danger.

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