Is Silver The New Black For Sears Tower?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 25, 2009 6:20PM

2009_02_sears_tower.jpgCould one of Chicago's most famous landmarks be getting a new wardrobe? The owners of the Sears Tower, which has soared over the city's skyline since 1973, have proposed a silver paint job for the iconic black tower. So why is silver suddenly the new black? Is the Sears Tower jealous of the attention the glimmering Trump Tower demands on account of the way it reflects the sun's rays?

Could be, since the ownership hopes a new paint job would help the building stand out and bring fresh attention. Um... it's already the tallest thing in the sky. You don't think it demands enough attention as it is? The building's ownership is hoping that silver will turn to green -- in two ways. They hope that the new look will help boost occupancy by renewing attention on the building. Once a premier corporate address, the SOM-designed landmark has struggled with attracting tenants due to the building's aging infrastructure, fears of terrorism and corporate downsizing.

Sustainability is another hoped for benefit. Already among the forerunners in eco-friendly programs like recycling, there have been discussions about working to gain the tower a LEED silver rating -- certifying its "green" cred. The lighter exterior color would help to reduce the cooling costs.

But how long would it take for the the energy savings to outweigh the costs of the new paint job -- which could cost $50 million or more? And if the building is clad in aluminum, wouldn't it be cheaper to simply sandblast or polish the exterior instead? We admit we're not engineers or architects, so we'd be interested to know if that's an option.

Photo by snoopoz