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Tweezer Tower

By Matt Wood in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 25, 2005 4:06PM

TweezersProminent architect Cesar Pelli, who designed the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, has proposed a 2,000-foot tall broadcast tower shaped like tweezers on the lakefront near Navy Pier. The tower would house antennas for local television stations to broadcast high-definition signals. If built, the tower would top Toronto's CN Tower as the world's tallest free-standing broadcast tower.

The tower, under the catchy working title of "Tall Tower," wouldn't be a building at all. Instead, it would be a tripod with three sets of paired legs with a space between them. The tower would have a few floors at the top for an observation deck and a restaurant, but otherwise it would just be a giant pair of tweezers nailed into the lakefront. The Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin calls the design "loony," a "scaleless hybrid that would be half-building, half-broadcast tower, but nowhere near a satisfying whole." The tower would also contend with another proposed 2,000-foot tall lakefront tower, the Fordham Spire designed by Santiago Calatrava. Calatrava's twisting, drill bit-like design at least comprises a real building. Chicagoist wonders why if TV stations are itching to put up taller antennas than the ones they already have on the Sears Tower and Hancock Center, why don't they just put them on Calatrava's project?

Before we get too up in arms about this, note the operative word in the first sentence: "proposed". The Tall Tower project doesn't have city approval, and the television stations for whom the tower would be built haven't agreed to anything. So at this point the Tweezers are nothing more than some fancy doodlings on a napkin. Chicagoist once had an idea for a sweet skyscraper too, a giant office building shaped like a polish sausage right along the river, but no one would listen. In that respect, the Tweezer Tower does have some potential. Its would-be developers, J. Paul Beitler and LR Development have had a history of high-profile projects downtown, including another proposed "world's tallest" skyscraper that never broke ground.

Chicago is known for its daring architecture, so maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. But personally, we think an homage to the town's eats would be much cooler than a giant set of tweezers.