Water Tower Place
In this article we showcase the Water Tower Place in Chicago Illinois. Many people are unaware of Water Tower Place, but for 15 years this historic structure was the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world - for its time, it was cutting edge technology that was impossible only a few years before.
Water Tower Place
Water Tower Place in Chicago Illinois was the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world from 1975 to 1990, when it was surpassed in height by 311 South Wacker Drive, also in Chicago. Water Tower Place is 76 stories, 859 feet tall and contains concrete with a strength of up to 9,000 psi.
Named after the Chicago Water Tower, the building was designed by Loebl, Schlossman, Dart & Hackl. The commercial construction company who built Water Tower Place was Inland-Robbins Company. A conventional design was used for the bottom 12 floors and a tubular design for the top 64 stories, using lightweight and normal weight concrete, as well as high strength concrete.
Water Tower Place could not have been built before the mid-1970s because concrete made before then would not have supported the massive structure. In the 1950s, any concrete with a compressive strength of 5,000 psi was considered high-strength. That definition changed in the 1960s, when high-strength concrete was anywhere between 6,000 and 7,500 psi. It wasn't until the early 1970s that concrete with a strength of 9,000 psi, the strength of some of the concrete used on Water Tower Place, was developed.
Advancements in improving concrete's strength have continued to improve the material even beyond the time Water Tower Place was created; modern concrete can reach strengths approaching 20,000 psi.
Only some of the cement in Water Tower Place is a strength of 9,000 psi. Commercial concrete contractors used 11 different mixes, varying from 3,000 psi for the slabs to 9,000 psi for the columns. The structural system of the building consists of reinforced concrete on the outside with steel columns on the inside and steel slabs topped with composite concrete. At 2/3 the height of the tallest steel building when it was built, Water Tower Place serves as an example of how cement's abilities make it a strong rival of steel.
Not only is the building composed of concrete, but concrete also lies underneath the building site. Commercial construction was delayed unexpectedly for several weeks when the commercial construction company discovered a stream running under the building site. They resolved the problem by creating a giant concrete dome to plug the water so that commercial construction could continue.
Even though taller buildings have been built since 1975, Water Tower Place, which remains fully operational today, marked a major milestone for commercial construction companies in the advancement of high-strength concrete and the new capabilities this innovation afforded.