It all started out so bright and innocent, nearly four years ago, as the huge, fire engine red crane was constructed above the concrete core, a bright, wireframe cherub reaching high to full extension as it began to raise the Waterview Tower two and a half city blocks into Chicago's skyline, creating a new Shangri-La (the tower's hotel client), promising a place of grace and beauty.
Chicago architecture and engineering firm Teng & Associates had decided to jump start the project with its own money. Like Garrett Kelleher and Shelbourne Development's Calatrava Spire, they took the rare and risky step of starting construction without having financing in place. Two years later, in mid-2008, the giant crane was arrested in its ascent at the 25th floor as the project, itself, staggered into the 25th hour. The money had run dry. Construction ground to a halt.
Until now. Marina City News has an excellent article on the deconstruction of the mighty Waterview crane, done by the erection of another, smaller crane. Early in 2009, the Circuit Court had declared the Waterview an abandoned property, after hopes of a $340 million cash infusion and takeover by a Chinese corporation fell through the year before. Central Crane Rental Service and Adjustable Forms, who both hold liens against the property, agreed to spend a reported $800,000 to dismantle the crane.
The Chicago Sun-Times' David Roeder is reporting that the building has a negative $15,000,000 net worth. It's now our own Lost Horizon, one of the two great memorials to Chicago's ought decade housing bubble. The Spire, concave, is a hole in the ground. Waterview, convex, is a 25-story concrete shell, a tombstone for the death of developer exuberance, irrational and otherwise.
For better or worse, it's one of the most distinctive structures in the city. What now? What should we do with it? Leave it rot, as a warning? Turn it into a parking garage? Aviary? Municipal mausoleum? Have Tracey Dear create a night time lighting scheme for it? Use it to mount the world's largest video screen from which Mayor Daley can make his pronouncements to the city? An eco casino? A childrens museum? Maybe we should have a competition.
What's your idea?