Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower ― the tallest building in the USA, formerly known as the Sears Tower ― has opened a new attraction: The Ledge, a series of glass bays that extend from the building’s 103rd floor.
Reaching out more than four feet from Skydeck Chicago’s west side, The Ledge gives visitors unobstructed views of Chicago 1,353 feet straight down. In addition, visitors can experience new interactive exhibit spaces that offer a “one stop Chicago” cultural experience on their way to the top.
The Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), the building’s original designer, provided the plan for the new feature. SOM designed The Ledge so that the fully enclosed glass boxes rest between conveyor belts. The boxes retract into the building, allowing easy access for cleaning and maintenance.
Each box provides unobstructed views of people, taxis, boats and bridges over Wacker Drive and the Chicago River.
MTH Industries, the Chicago-based, 120-year-old glass and architectural metal contractor that installed Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, installed The Ledge’s glass panels. Each glass box is comprised of three layers of glass laminated into one seamless unit. The low-iron, clear glass is fully tempered and heat-soaked for durability. In addition, the motorized system that projects and retracts the boxes from the building uses steel LinearBeams in its construction.
Skydeck Chicago has also developed a new experience for those queuing for the elevator ride up to the 103rd floor. It includes interactive and educational museum-quality exhibits that highlight the Willis Tower landmark and celebrate Chicago’s sports, architecture, pop culture, history, food, music and people. Interactive displays feature the city’s history, major Chicago attractions and fun facts.
Visitors can also stand on video screens to see what Chicago landmarks would look like if they were standing on The Ledge, 103 floors above the pitching mound at Wrigley Field, Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate, North Avenue Beach and more.
The multimedia elevator gives visitors one of the fastest rides in the world up more than one hundred flights, while giving visitors points of reference for the heights they are ascending along their journey to the 103rd floor.
Skydeck Chicago is open daily September through March from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and from April through October from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.theskydeck.com or call 1.877.SKY.DECK.