Twenty-five years ago this month, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright caught the architectural imagination of the world with drawings of a building exactly one mile high on Chicago's lakefront.
Wright never really planned on building his 528-story creation: The drawings were part of an effort to create something splashy for Frank Lloyd Wright Day, proclaimed by then-Mayor Richard J. Daley.
But now, developers are planning a $1.25 billion, 169-story building that would be 2,300 feet tall--almost double the height of the Empire State Building.
The proposed skyscraper would be almost a half-mile-tall and 850 feet higher than Chicago's Sears Tower, the world's tallest building.
However, the superskyscraper might remain little more than a paper dream if high interest rates and the high costs of construction remain at current levels.
"I put the chances of the skyscraper being built at no more than 50-50," said an unnamed Chicago-area attorney, whom The Chicago Tribune said was involved with the "financial maneuverings" of the project. Other prominent city developers have expressed doubts the building could ever become a reality.
Three of the world's five tallest buildings are in Chicago.
The architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is putting the dream on paper and a site has apparently been scouted out north of the city's Loop.
The height of the giant building is second only to its estimated cost--$1.25 billion, much of which developers are attempting to raise from foreign investors.
Officials at Skidmore, which designed the Sears Tower the John Hancock Center, the fifth-tallest building in the world, declined comment on a report in Monday's Chicago Tribune.
The new skyscraper would be nearly double the size of New York City's Empire State Building, the world's third-tallest building.
As many as 45,000 people could live, work and play in the skyscraper, which would have a volume of 4 million to 6 million square feet, 1 1/2 times the size of the Sears Tower and up to three times the interior space of the Empire State Building.
While architects see no problems in design and construction, financing the project looms as the biggest obstacle to its birth.
The attorney said more than a dozen investors and banks in Chicago, Canada, New York, California and overseas would be included.
Unlike most large real estate projects though, the soaring structure would involve none of the major U.S. insurance companies. The attorney said the project's developer was a middle-aged native Chicagoan, but refused to identify the individual.