In 2009, Donald Trump completed his first major tower in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architect Blair Kamin called it “dazzlingly luminous,” and praised its public plaza as “vibrant.”
Two years later, Kamin said the tower was the greatest example of how skyscraper architecture had triumphed over terror, since at 1,362 it is the tallest building built after the 9/11 attacks (as well as the tallest in the U.S. since the Willis/Sears Tower).
But Donald Trump has never been one to leave well enough alone.
This month, he decided to literally stamp his name on the building, installing a giant “Trump” sign on its riverfront facade. Here’s what it looks like while riding up the Chicago River:
You may have seen the view looking up the Chicago River looks like elsewhere. It’s pretty great. Here’s a “before” photo, showing pre-be-signed Trump Tower on the right:
So we’re talking about a major alteration to a city that is highly protective of its architectural legacy.
As brash as a cowboy’s belt buckle, the freshly installed sign flaunts stainless steel letters that reach more than 20 feet high and stretch 141 feet across, or nearly half a football field. It’s a self-disfiguring act that blights Trump’s refined, 96-story hotel-condominium skyscraper — and threatens the riverfront’s dignity and beauty.
The building’s architect himself, Adrian Smith, said the sign lacks taste, according to the Wall Street Journal. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also called it “tasteless”, adding that it “scars the architecture, beauty and taste” of Smith’s tower.
Of course, Trump is not sitting idly by. He immediately went ad hominem at Kamin, Tweeting that he was “the worst architectural critic in the business” (again, Kamin won a Pulitzer prize and recently finished a residency at Harvard). He also noted that for decades the Chicago Sun-Times’ logo besmirched the riverfront just where Trump Tower stands today.
Kamin doesn’t dispute this, and agreed that it was ugly. But two wrongs don’t make a right, he said — “…as if the absence of the old bad sign rationalized the presence of the new bad sign.”
Emanuel has not discussed what if anything can be done to get the sign removed, only that his administration is looking into rezoning the riverfront so prevent similar signs from springing up.
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