Sears Tower


Structural engineers have a challenge designing skyscrapers in Chicago--the famous strong winds want to blow the buildings down. To keep skyscrapers standing, engineers need to find the right balance between a rigid structure, which won’t sway in the wind and make people sick, and one flexible enough not to snap like a stick. The Sears Tower is another monument to that design know-how. Opened in 1973, it rises 1,454 feet high and is the second tallest building in the world--and the tallest if one considers the highest occupiable space as the criterion. It took three years to build at a cost in excess of $150 million.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Civil
Topic(s):Structures
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:From the top of the Sears Tower you can see four states--Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan--on a clear day. When you’re up there, the building can sway about 6 inches from true center. And how do they keep the approximately 16,100 bronze-tinted windows clean? Six roof-mounted robotic window washing machines--designed by engineers--do it.
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