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Official Name

Trump International Hotel & Tower


401 N. Wabash Ave.

Completion Date



Near North Side

Use Type

Mixed Use

When our docents explain that the Trump International Hotel & Tower reflects its surroundings, they aren’t only referring to its shiny glass and steel exterior.

The reflection they’re referring to isn’t only a literal one. When the Chicago architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) envisioned this contemporary tower, the building’s place and neighbors influenced its design. While it is true that the building’s materials mirror its neighbors, it can also be argued that its design communicates its relationship to them.

The Trump Tower is designed with three setbacks. Each setback points toward an architecturally significant neighbor. The setbacks allow for "communication" with surrounding buildings. At 16 stories, the first is to the east of Trump Tower and corresponds to the height of the Wrigley Building. At 29 stories, the second points both north toward River Plaza and west to Marina City. All the way up at 51 stories, the third setback is west of Trump Tower and relates with Mies' last Chicago project, 330 N. Wabash Ave.

A Double Duty Design: The Trump Tower’s structure provides strength and context

SOM’s attention to the building’s location and architecturally significant neighbors wasn’t what earned the firm this commission. The Trump Organization originally considered three architecture firms for the project: Lohan Associates, Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. But it was SOM’s experience building tall towers in the U.S. and abroad that cinched the deal. The firm was, and continues to be, an innovator in structural design throughout the world.

To enable the Trump Tower to withstand Chicago’s punishing wind loads, SOM used a concrete structural system often referred to as core and outrigger construction. The building has a central core of concrete with concrete arms (outriggers) that reach out across several key floors. The outriggers connect its central core with an exterior ring of structural columns. This method—also used in the Burj Khalifa that was designed by the same SOM engineers—allows for design flexibility and structural strength.