Here is my rendition of the Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois. Although a very simple build at face value (there are less than 40 unique pieces, yet over 2,500 overall pieces used), it became complex considering the strength needed to make the build and using the exact scaling of the real thing on more than one dimension.
But first, just some fun facts about the build.
•The Willis Tower contains approximately 4.56 million gross square feet and has a rentable area of 3.8 million square feet.
•4.56 million gross square feet would cover 105 acres if spread across one level, or the equivalent of 16 city blocks in Chicago.
•Within the building, there are 25 miles of plumbing, 1,500 miles of electric wiring, 80 miles of elevator cable, and 145,000 light fixtures.
•The building weighs more than 222,500 tons, and it cost more than $175 million to build.
•Each floor of the building is divided into 75-foot, column-free squares, or “mega-modules,” which provide maximum planning, flexibility and efficiency.
•Large windows provide maximum light and views, further enhanced by the corridors created by the tower’s set back on all sides.
•Only the finest materials are used throughout the buildings common areas to highlight the property’s prestige, such as the lobby’s walls of travertine highlighted with stainless steel trim, polished granite flooring, and decorative ceiling lighting.
One other unique aspect of this building is that although it is not the tallest in the world (used to be close, no longer is), of all the tall buildings in the world it has one of the largest floor spaces (square footage floorspace). It even has more floorspace than the tallest building in the world, the Burj Kalifa! To accomplish this task, it carries a unique structure that was actually inspired by a ciragette box! No joke! The original structural engineer of the building, Fazlur Rahman Khan, was inspired of the structure of such a build when he saw a pack of cigarettes with cigarettes poking out of the box at different lengths, such as this:
This inspired the bundled tube structure of the tower. The form of this structure is now commonly-used; a linchpin in the building community. For example, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Kalifa uses the bundled tube structure. The evolution of structural design as integrated this design with others involving tubular structure to create ever-increasing heights of structural buildings.
My goal for this project was to not only perfectly scale the building, but also maintain the scale for each one of the tubes. As can be seen from the diagram below, the tubes, nine in all (3x3 matrix), rise to different levels, with opposing tubes helping balance (offset physical pulls and pushes) of the other.
My build followed the exact structural plan of the Willis Tower, with the first two floors stopping at the same relative height as those in the diagram above (purple in color), the second two stopping at the same relative height as those in the diagram (green) and so forth. The relative heights of each tube is public domain information, so I had access to it.
In the pictures below you can see the varying heights of each tube. The height of the tower is 1450 ft. (some reports 1451…. but……meh…..whatever). Convert this to inches to you have 17400 inches (1450x12 = 17400). I build this model just over 52 inches (52.15 to be exact) and therefore 17400/52.15 = 333.65, an approximately scaled model of 1:333. I used this same scaling for each tube, so each tube of the build is approximately 1:333 of 75 ft.
Thanks for looking! Hope you learned something and enjoyed the read.
This is an interesting departure from the typical architectural landmark model. I could imagine a series of these for several well-known skyscrapers revealing some particularly interesting structural similarities to LEGO's system of parts.
Quoting Jeremy McCreary
Quite a feat of structural engineering. Will have to come back and study your joinery. The problem with building in black -- a tendency we both share -- is getting the details to stand out in photos.
Thanks Jeremy. What I should add is the dimensions that I mention but do not discuss. Thinking about redoing the page with more of a write-up and history b/c there is much to discuss. This was an early post and I didn't know that much of a write-up would be very beneficial, but have learned that it really is! Although this model is simple, what is cool is that not only is the whole building scaled, but each indivdual pillar is to scale as well, exact same dimension as the whole 1:333. The Sears tower got its inspiration from a box of cigarettes (no joke) standing at different heights. Therefore, each pillar draws strength from other pillars and have the same dimensions, the exact principle used in this build.