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Willis Tower's Iconic Globe Sculpture Has A New Home In The Suburbs

The 8-ton globe sculpture installed at Willis Tower in 2010.

A popular component of Willis Tower's public art installations has a new home. The 8-ton globe sculpture, designed by Archigrafika and built and installed by Poblocki Sign Co. in 2010, is being restored and reinstalled at the headquarters of Christopher Glass & Aluminum in suburban Elmhurst. The sculpture, located in front of Willis Tower's entrance, was a popular photography subject of tourists and visitors to the skyscraper's observatory.

Downtown public art installations were among Preservation Chicago's 2017 "Chicago 7" list of endangered landmarks. The group included Willis Tower's artwork in the list, specifically Alexander Calder's "The Universe" sculpture inside the tower's lobby. Blackstone Group's $500M renovation plan for Willis does not address what will happen to the Calder sculpture or other public art.

The first phase of Willis' renovations involves building a new 300K SF retail annex and adding a new structure to the base of the building, putting the globe in danger. Christopher Glass & Aluminum was contracted to assist with that build-out. Project Manager Bob Wolf said Blackstone Group set a Dec. 31 deadline to remove the sculpture, so CGA bought it and spent four nights, working 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shifts, to disassemble the globe into 16 pieces, using a spider crane and a boom lift, and transport it to its headquarters.

Christoper Glass & Aluminum broke down the Willis Tower globe sculpture in December and is installing it outside its Elmhurst headquarters.

Wolf said CGA spent the past six weeks inspecting, cleaning and preparing the 25-foot-diameter globe for installation. The company poured an 11-foot by 11-foot concrete base to hold the sculpture, and the base was attached. The remaining pieces will be installed in the coming months.

Wolf said CGA is planning to install a time capsule, which will hold memories from the company's history and commemorate the globe's installation, near the globe's base.

CORRECTION, MAY 7, 1:23 P.M. CT: An earlier version of this story failed to identify Archigrafika as the sculpture's designer. It has been updated.