Sears Ledge to offer unobstructed views

On top of the world in Chicago
May 1, 2009 4:32:36 PM PDT
There will be a new view of Chicago for visitors to the Sears Skydeck this summer.But you might want to avoid it if you are afraid of heights.

The Skydeck is getting four glass- bottomed balconies. So people will be able to walk out on a glass floor and look directly down on the city below.

You can see north, south, east and west from the top of the sears tower. But beginning in June, you'll have a new view. Straight down.

Ferris Bueller showed us how to do it. Next month, the staff at the Sears Tower will take it one step further.

"For decades people have come to our four views. Come to experience four states, 50 miles. It's been terrific but we're adding a fifth view," said Randy Stancik, Sears Skydeck general manager.

Visitors will be able to walk into one of several glass enclosed cubes that will extend a little more than four feet off the side of the Sears Tower.

"Sounds scary," said Jacob Bodine of Matteson, Illinois. "It would be cool too!"

Crews are already at work preparing to install the extensions. It's complicated by the fact he Sears Tower's automated window washing equipment means the cubes will have to be retractable.

"It's tricky but we used a mechanism that's quite commonly used in industrial applications to move the whole box back into the building," said Ross Wimer, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Design partner.

"I'd be a little afraid of the heights but once I get out there, it'd be pretty exciting," said Michelle Garrett, tourist from Atlanta.

At the Grand Canyon, a clear skywalk allows visitors to stand 4,000 feet above the Colorado River.

If all this is giving you the spins, here's one way to enjoy the view without the vertigo.

"We laid on the steps downstairs and looked straight up to say 'wow, that's tall!'" said Kevin Bodine of Matteson, Illinois. "Pretty neat to be able to look right straight down and straight out and say beneath my feet is the city. That's cool."

As for the safety of standing on nothing but glass 103-stories above the street below... We're told not to worry.

There will be three layers, each pane a 1.5 inches thick. The glass will be like your car windshield. Meaning it'll have a heavy plastic film so if it fractures, it'll crack but not break.

The Skydeck ledge opens in June.


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