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CAC’s Jen Masengarb partnered with WBEZ’s Curious City to research this story in response to a question submitted by a curious citizen. Listen to the broadcast.

Ever walk past a skyscraper and wonder what its future will hold? WBEZ listener Bill Muscat, an engineer by trade, is curious about just that—especially as it relates to one of the tallest buildings in the world. He asked: What do we do in 150 years when our current buildings are too old? What do we do with an old Willis (Sears) Tower?

In this story, instead of answering a question about the past, CAC’s Jen Masengarb and the Curious City team look toward the future. They investigate three scenarios for the future of the Willis Tower:

  1. The Willis Tower is demolished and replaced with another building.
  2. The Willis Tower is abandoned.
  3. The Willis Tower is maintained and adapted to suit the needs of Chicago in 2166.

“The building is merely the machine that makes the land pay.”

–Architect Cass Gilbert, 1900.


Read the full article with photos from inside the Willis (Sears) Tower and sketches of how our city could look in the year 2166.