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Legible  Structures  


Anthony  Louis  Allegrone  



Presented  to  the  Faculty  of  the  Department  of  Architecture   Wentworth  Institute  of  Technology     in  Partial  Fulfillment  of  the  Requirements  for  the  Degree  of       Master  of  Architecture       May  2012    






Approved  by  the  Committee:  


  Chair  of  Graduate  Studies:  ________________________________________                     Professor  John  Stephen  Ellis,  AIA                            Primary  Advisor:    ________________________________________                          Professor  Marc  Neveu,  Ph.D.      







Chaper 1 - Thesis Overview

9 - 14

Chapter 3 - Site Information

41 - 54

Chaper 2 - Research Exploration 15 - 40 part 1: visual studies 16 - 19 part 2: tall building research 20 - 31 part 3: research eassay 32 - 40 Chapter 4 - Program Information

55 - 58

Chapter 5 - Design Process 59 - 72 part 1: form studies 60 - 63 part 2: structural sketches 64 - 67 part 3: ETABS testing 68 - 69 part 4: structural abstracts 70 - 72 Chapter 6 - Final Design

73 - 88

Chapter 7 - Bibliography 89 - 91



How can Legible Structures, structure in which the forces are expressed, assist in the creation of an architectural aesthetic while improving lateral stability for tall building design? Structural expression can be defined as an approach that gives the rolls of engineering and architecture equal importance when designing a building. The utmost importance of this thesis is to exist within the realm of a specific type of structural expression, that being the work of 20th century architects Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan in order to improve and innovate their dialogue of tall building design. Both of these architects vigorously utilized and investigated the combination of structure and aesthetics through the use of authentic strategies. By exposing a building’s structure via an authentic approach, the structure is able to become a dynamic aesthetic by expressing the forces within the structural system while still fulfilling its primary roll of lateral stability. In other words, by being authentic, structural forces are able to become Legible and laterally stable. This legibility can be achieved though the understanding of structural

types such as the framed tube structure, tube in tube structure, diagonally braced tube structure, and bundled tube structure, all of which Goldsmith and Khan had large contributions in the development of. While the understanding of structural types is important to achieve a successful proposal for this thesis, many detailed and conceptual investigations must be utilized extensively through the use of structural analysis programs, form studies, and structural diagramming.



Expression - The exposure of a buildings structure as a way to achieve an architectural aesthetic. Structural Architecture - Utilizing both engineering and architecture as a design approach; giving equal priority to both fields to produce the overall design. Authentic - An efficient approach to design; only use what you need without adding extra, useless materials; utilize components that are needed, and leave out those that are not; a minimalist approach.

Legible - To show how a building is working, primarily through the use of exposing a buildings structure. Legibility is achieved by being authentic.

Important terms


1. Gained knowledge of tall building structural types.

2. Developed an understanding of the work of Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan in order to improve their dialogue. 3. Developed an understanding of what authenticity can do for architecture.

4. Achieved a proposal that sits within the realm of work of Goldsmith and Khan that offers a way to improve Structural Architecture for tall building design.*

5. Gained immense knowledge of the city of Chicago in relation to its tall building history and achievements. 6. Developed an understanding of the meaning of the skyscraper, especially in relation to the city of Chicago and the work of Goldsmith and Khan.



EXPLORATION visual process - part 1

Tectonics - 09.08.2011 - 09.15.2011

Graffiti Architecture - 09.08.2011 - 09.15.2011

Part 1 of the thesis exploration primarily includes visual process. The most relevant visuals include an array of collage work in which the main goal was to explore the word reveal. This process began due to an interest in structural “reveals” that directly relates to an interest structural expression. Exploring structural “reveal” through collages then lead into idea maps that allowed for more organization to occur in terms of what the interest in structural expression could evolve into. Questions that arose during the process were: what can revealing structure do for architecture? What are different ways in which structure can be revealed? How can the building skin be “pealed” or removed in order to expose the structure? What does it mean to expose the “truth” of a building? Can thresholds help achieve reveals? Are reveals merely an aesthetic component of architecture or is there a deeper meaning to structural expression? Towards the end of this process, there became an interest in experiencing these reveals in order to further understand how a building is working. By experiencing a building’s structure, can one develop an understanding of how it’s standing up?

Continuity collage 1 - 09.08.2011 - 09.15.2011

Continuity collage 2 - 09.08.2011 - 09.15.2011

Reveal collage 1 - 09.08.2011 - 09.15.2011


Reveal collage 2 - 09.08.2011 - 09.15.2011

Reveal collage 3 - 10.5.2011 - 10.13.2011

Reveal collage 4 - 10.5.2011 - 10.13.2011

Idea Map 1 - 10.15.2011 - 10.24.2011 Idea Map 2 - 10.15.2011 - 10.24.2011 Idea Map 3 - 10.15.2011 - 10.24.2011













EXPLORATION tall building research - part 2

Part 2 of this thesis exploration includes a more in-depth research of the work of Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan and their expertise in structural expression and the idea of Structural Architecture. Researching the dialogue of these architects triggered the exploration of tall buildings due to the significance of structure that tall buildings poses. Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan allowed for the understanding of how authenticity in regards to structural expression is the key factor in achieving structures that show how their working. The utmost importance to this thesis, through researching these architects, evolved into understanding their dialogue and noble approach in order to improve and innovate their strategies for tall building design. In order to do this, research for this thesis became centered on studying tall buildings that touched on their ideas, understanding the variety of structural types, understanding the issues with tall buildings, achieving knowledge about the purpose of tall buildings, and understanding the structural strategies taken when designing tall buildings. The best way to accomplish this analysis was to study the tall buildings that exist within the dialogue of Goldsmith and Khan.







Structural expression can be de- the structural system, which is the basis

fined as an approach that gives the rolls of all artistic design, is hidden by a chaos of engineering and architecture equal im- of meaningless and trivial forms…”1 Both

portance when designing a building. By Goldsmith and Khan had a strong passion way of this approach, the exposure of a to implement and innovate this concept

buildings structure creates the architec- through the use of tall building structural tural aesthetic while still fulfilling its pri- types commonly used today that they in

mary role of allowing the building to func- fact largely contributed to the develoption structurally. This strategy, combining ment of. These structural types are known

structure and aesthetics, has been vigor- as the framed tube, bundled tube, tube in ously utilized and investigated in a very tube, and diagonally braced tube. These specific manner by Myron Goldsmith and tubular structures essentially are an arFazlur Khan, architects of the twentieth rangement of perimeter columns placed century whom both had large contribu- on the exterior of a building that act as a

tions to the innovation of tall building de- cantilever extending perpendicular from

sign. Mies van der Rohe, another architect the ground in order to solve lateral loads.2 of the twentieth century whom had great- Through the use of these tubular strucly influenced Goldsmith and Khan, said tures, both architects were able to perform

“Skyscrapers reveal their bold structural their specific design technique, that being patterns during construction. Only then 1 Mir M. Ali, Art of the Skyscraper: the Genius of Fazlur Khan (New York, NY: does the gigantic steel web seem impres- Rizzoli, 2001), 10. sive. When the outer walls are put in place, 2 Ali, Art of the Skyscraper: the Genius of Fazlur Khan.

EXPLORATION research essay - part 3

an authentic approach. In other words,

prove it and innovate it. Therefore, Legible

1950’s for tall building design was the

are expressed, assists in the creation of

for example, Goldsmith’s thesis from the

Structures, structure in which the forces

structure changes as the scale of the build-

an architectural aesthetic while improv-

ing changes (Fig. 1). This meant that due

ing lateral stability for tall building design.

Authenticity is very much a driving

to the dominant loads being placed at the

base of a tall building’s structure from the

force that has caused Goldsmith’s and Khan’s

ture should be denser at the base and more

ture3, as it is the authentic approach that cre-

very authentic due to the structure strictly

of its structure. Other than Goldsmith’s the-

created the aesthetic of the building. The

Khan’s consistent innovation and improve-

use of tubular structures defines the dia-

process that Khan endeavored very much

for this thesis, this dialogue is referred to

strategy. “Khan’s philosophy was to create

the structure being visibly expressed as

terials work naturally without being over-

stress caused by lateral loads, the struc-

work to be referred to as structural architec-

spread out as it rises. This approach was

ates the building’s aesthetic through the use

being place only where it was needed and

sis, this approach is most dominantly seen via

combination of this authenticity and the

ment of the structure of tall buildings. This

logue of work of Goldsmith and Khan. As

clarifies how it resulted in an architectural

as Legible Structures due to the forces of

a structural configuration in which the ma-

seen in Goldsmith’s thesis. It is the utmost

importance of this thesis to exist within this dialogue of these architects and to im-

Figure 1

3 David Billington, Techniques and Aesthetics in the Design of Tall Buildings (Bethlehem, PA: Institute for the Study of the High-Rise Habitat, 1986), 68.


stressed. The result was honestly designed

rally achieving a “wave pattern” façade. Khan

structures that became the visual expressions

carried these strategies further when he de-

of his buildings.” An example of this is his

signed the more recognized John Hancock

One Shell Plaza in Houston, a 714 foot, 52

Center and Willis Tower in Chicago in which

story building that utilized the tube in tube

he implemented the diagonally braced tube

structure. During the design of this building,

and bundled tube which gave him his re-

there were a number of problems including a

nowned name of the “father of tubular design”.

differential creep and shrinkage shortening of

The tubular structures are the struc-

overstressed columns. The creep issue caused

tural systems that went hand-in-hand with

two groups of six columns on each of the four

Khan’s authentic decisions during his inno-

elevations to receive higher loads due to slab

vative process and the same is true for Gold-

bands. Khan’s solution was to gradually in-

smith’s thesis. Therefore, it is important for

crease the size of these groups of six columns,

a general understanding of how the vari-

creating an equal stress level in all perimeter

ous tube structures are able to achieve their

columns of the building and eliminating the

lateral stability. The tube in tube structure

differential creep4 (Fig. 2). Khan’s solution

combines a structural frame and shear wall

was an authentic decision by only increas-

interaction. In simplest terms, the frames

ing the size of the columns that received the

and shear walls would tend to sway indepen-

added load, which caused the higher stressed

dently under lateral loads in their own way,

areas of the building to become legible. This

but when utilized together, both components

resulted in the aesthetic of the building natu-

are able to bend appropriately to aid in lateral

4 Billington, Techniques and Aesthetics in the Design of Tall Buildings, 42

stability (Fig. 3). The diagonally braced tube, Figure 2

an example being the John Hancock Center, essentially replaced the core shear wall with “x-bracing” on the exterior that would then account for lateral loads (Fig. 4). Then came the bundled tube, which combined a series of individual framed tube structures that were gradually removed as the structure got taller (Fig. 5). The Willis Tower, an example of the bundled tube, consists of nine modular areas that decrease to two modular areas upon the highest floor of the building. By understanding these two components of Goldsmith and Khan’s work, authenticity and tubular structure, this thesis offers an innovative approach to this dialogue that not only improves it, but also is able

to demonstrate its individuality by understanding two contemporary examples

that exist within the dialogue of these architects. One example is the China Central

Television (CCTV) tower in Beijing by Rem Figure 3

Koolhaas while the other example being

Figure 4


the Swiss Reinsurance Company building

in London by Norman Foster. The CCTV

tower is a direct response to Goldsmith’s thesis, as “the structure is developed on the façade as a triangulated grid of varying density reflecting the stress distribution.”5 (Fig. 6) It is an authentic approach in which structural members are added and removed from the baseline structural grid to account for the stress distributions caused by its unique form. In order to account for lateral stability, these legible stress areas of the building are very much needed. On the contrary, the Swiss Reinsurance Company building focuses less on the placement of its individual structural members to solve its lateral loads and expands on the tubular structure by steering more towards its overall structural form to reduce the wind loads through the use of a diagrid tube.

Figure 5

5 Guy Nordenson and Terence Riley, eds., Tall Buildings (New York, NY.: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2003), 76.

Figure 6

In other words, since its form is cylindrical, the wind pressure and vortex shredding is drastically reduced in comparison to a typical rectangular floor plan (Fig. 7).6 In conclusion, the CCTV tower takes an authentic approach through the use of its individual structural members to solve the building’s lateral loads, while the Swiss Reinsurance building relies heavily on its structural form to improve its lateral stability, neither building is accounting for both authenticity and structural form for its innovation and improvement to the dialogue of Goldsmith and Khan. Legible Structure’s does exactly that; achieves both an authentic approach and a structural form to improve its lateral stability rather than solely relying on one or the other (Fig. 8). Architectural accomplishments such as that of Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan 6 Mir M. Ali, Kyoung Sun Moon. 2007. Structural developments in tall buildings: Current trends and future prospects. 50.3.

Figure 7

Figure 8


tend to be placed in history and become somewhat forgotten. For example, this may be true due to the drastic improvements of tall building structures that exist within contemporary architecture or simply the focus of tall building design steering towards maximum floor space. Rather than offering the next step or new proposal for a contemporary tall building, Legible Structures, acknowledges the noble approach of Goldsmith and Khan by offering a proposal that exists within the dialogue of their work in order to redefine the design approach for tall buildings.



SITE - Chicago, Il 400 north lake shore road

The site chosen for this thesis is the Chicago Spire site, which is where a previously proposed tallest building in the world

was to be placed. Chicago not only offers

a significant site, but the city itself is very relevant for this thesis considering it is the

“inventor of the skyscraper”. The Spire site is the key factor for this thesis that al-

lows for the dialogue of Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan to be improved and inno-

vated. Specific site forces of this Chicago

site strongly enforced decisions for the

final design. These site forces include the

site being located on both sides of North Lake Shore Road, encouraging the design to stratal the road. The other important

site force is Chicago’s well-known nickname being the “windy city”. This simple

characteristic of Chicago sprung the idea of the building’s orientation and structural

form to be determined by the wind. This site is the dominant component for this Existing site plan

thesis that allowed the final design to answer the question of Legible Structures.

Aerial view of site

Previously proposed Spire building

Existing site condition (west side of road)


SITE - Chicago, Il building research


Site buildings - analysis

1. River East Art Center This section of buildings is located in downtown Chicago, Illinois. It contains the River East Art Center, Lake Shore Drive, and several local shops and stores. The East River Art Center is great destination for art lovers. It is home to galleries, studio spaces, history, shops and other related events. On the eastern side of the block resides the 61 story, Lake Shore Drive Condominium tower standing tall at 581 feet. The condos are also known as the North Pier Apartments. Construction of the structure was completed in 1990 under the architectural design of Dubin, Dubin, Black & Moutoussamy, and Florian-Wierzbowski.

another site in the River East complex, at the corner of North Water Street and Lake Shore Drive. At that location it was supposed to be 54 stories. The 70,000 square foot landscaped park is located atop the underground parking garage which will be shared by Parkview West and Parkview East.

2. Lake Point Tower Two students of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, George Schipporeit and John Heinrich, designed Lake Point Tower, in part inspired by one of the their first teacher’s conceptual projects. The skyscraper is one of the first to be constructed with curving glass walls and was at the time of its construction the world’s tallest apartment building. Mies van der Rohe himself has no projects in the list of 150.

Building set 1

3. Parkview West Parkview West is a 141 meter high residential tower at Chicago, IL. The name “Park View” was previously reserved for


4. Navy Pier (Part 1 of 4) Designed by Charles Sumner Frost, Navy Pier is located on Lake Michigan, just East of Chicago’s Downtown, Navy Pier has been a Chicago landmark since it first opened in 1916. Originally designed as both a shipping and recreational facility, the Pier also served as a military training site during two world wars, a venue for concerts and exhibitions, and the temporary home for a once-fledgling University of Illinois’ Chicago campus. As the Pier fell into disuse during much of the 1970s and 1980s, the State of Illinois and Chicago embarked on a joint plan whereby, in 1989, ownership of the Pier was transferred to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the same body which oversees Chicago’s McCormick Place. This section of the pier houses the Family Pavilion that includes a food court, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and an IMAX theater, and many retail shops. Another feature of this section is the six-story glass atrium, Crystal Gardens, a one-acre indoor palm court.

Building set 2

5. North Lake Shore Drive Bridge Also known as the “Link Bridge”, “Outer Drive Bridge”, “US 41 Bridge”. The North Lake Shore Drive river crossing has a relatively short history. This is the first and only bridge built at this location. This bridge was part of the larger plan to build a major highway through downtown Chicago to facilitate traffic flow into and out of the city.

Planning began in 1926 and construction began in 1931. Funding ran out in 1932 with the crash of the municipal bond market. The WPA stepped in with assistance in 1935 and the bridge was completed in 1937. At the time of construction it was the widest, longest, and heaviest double leaf bascule bridge in the world. Boats pass under the N. Lake Shore Dr. bridge on the journey to and from Lake Michigan. The original southern approach to this bridge was described as an “S-curve.” It ran on Field Boulevard (through the current Lake Shore East Development) to eastbound Wacker Drive and then onto northbound Lake Shore Drive. In the 1980’s, the alignment of Lake Shore Drive was changed to its current location along the lake front east of the Lake Shore East development. It was during this project that the second traffic deck (lower deck) was added and the bascule bridge over Ogden slip was removed and replaced by the current fixed bridge. 6. CityFront Place CityFront Place is one of the premiere residences along the Chicago river. It’s 45 degree offset to the street grid allows for twice as many river view condo. It’s proximity to the mouth of the Chicago river and it’s adjacency to Lake Michigan has made this a poplar address for people hoping to live in downtown Chicago.

7. Onterie Center Upon its completion in 1986, the Onterie Center’s main tower became one of Chicago’s 50 tallest buildings at 570 feet (174m). The Skidmore, Owings and Merrill building takes its name from the two streets at its entrance, Ontario and Erie. The concrete X formations along the sides are infill concrete panels that form a truss tube, not needing any steel support. The building won the 1986 Best Structure award from the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois. The building houses office space, apartments, and retail space with an above-ground parking structure. Model by Catherine Moats.

winner of the first season of The Apprentice television show, Bill Rancic, chose to manage the construction of the tower. The building was originaly designed as the worlds tallest building but redesigned after the 9/11 atacks in New York.

8. NBC Tower The NBC Tower in Chicago was finished in 1989. It was designed in a postmodern interpretation of the Art Deco style. This building was designed by Adrian D. Smith of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. It stands at 627 feet and is topped with a 130 foot spire.

Building set 3

9. Trump International Hotel and Tower Designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill and completed in 2009, the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago stands 1,362 feet (415 m) over the Chicago river at 401 North Wabash Avenue in Chicago. The building was named after the owner and real estate developer Donald Trump. The building received publicity when the


10. John Hancock Center The one hundred story tall John Hancock Center, is recognized as an icon to local Chicago and skyscraper enthusiasts worldwide. The Skidmore, Owings & Merrill building stands 343.5 meters to the roof and is an additional 114 meters to the top of the tall antenna.

Building set 4

11. Willis Tower ( Sears Tower ) Willis Tower, formerly named Sears Tower, is a 108-story 1,451 feet skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. At the time of its completion in 1973, it was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the World Trade Center towers in New York. Currently, Willis Tower is the tallest building in the United States and the fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the world as well as the fifth tallest building in the world to the roof. Although Sears’ naming rights expired in 2003, the building continued to be called Sears Tower for several years. However, in March 2009 London-based insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., agreed to lease a portion of the building and obtained the building’s naming rights as part of the agreement. On July 16, 2009, at 10:00 am Central Time, the building was officially renamed Willis Tower. In January 2009, the Skydeck began a major renovation including the installation of glass balconies extending approximately four feet over Wacker Drive from the 103rd floor. The all-glass boxes allow visitors to look

through the floor to the street 1,353 feet below.

12. The Regatta The Regatta at Lake Shore East Type: Skyscraper Stories: 45 Height: 471 feet Construction start: 2004 Construction finish: 2006 Designed by: DeStefano + Partners.

13. The Chandler Built in 2007; designed by Destefano + Partners, Loewenberg + Assoc. A 36 story residential tower part of the Lakeshore East development.

14. Marina City and House of Blues Marina City was designed by Architect Bertrand Goldberg. Located in Chicago, Illinois, it is said to be a “city within a city.� It was completed in 1964 to be 588 feet tall. Marina City is an early example of urban design as a mixed use high-rise building. The twin towers can easily be recognized by their unique corn cob shape. 15. River East Center The River East Center in Chicago, Illinois is composed of two towers connected by an arcade. The eastern tower is contains 620 condominiums, and stands 644 feet tall. To the west is the 18 story Embassy Suites Lakefront Hotel. Located between the two towers is an AMC theatre with 21 screens, as well as several smaller businesses.

Building set 5


16. Two Prudential Plaza The Two Prudential Plaza building is located in Downtown Chicago. It was completed in 1990 and its 64 floors rise 995 feet. The building is joined at the lobby with its neighbor, One Prudential Plaza. The architect Loebl, Schlossman & Hackl designed the building and at the time of its completion it was the worlds second tallest reinforced concrete building.

Building set 6

17. Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower The Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower is located on the north end of Grant Park along E. Randolph Street at the NE corner of Randolph and Columbus Drive, in Chicago, Illinois.The building’s address is 300 E. Randolph. The building is located next to the Aon Center and original plans hoped to connect the two buildings via an underground pedway but the plans never came to fruition. Architect James Goettsch of Goettsch Partners designed the building. The 33-story first phase was completed in 1997 under the firm name of Lohan Associates. The 24-story second phase is scheduled for completion in 2010. BCBS was originally designed to allow for many more floors to be built later as market conditions warrant and indeed in the center of the building you can see a large open space where more elevators can be inserted into the building to accommodate additional floors. The building and the large expanse of windows facing Grant Park are often

used to spell out words to commemorate or celebrate events and happenings in Chicago. In 2006 the City of Chicago granted a building permit to Health Care Service Corporation dba Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois to build up instead of out. The “new” tower is 57 stories and is the first project in Chicago to build up.

18. 340 on the Park 340 on the Park is a residential tower in the Lakeshore East development of the neighborhood of New Eastside/ East Loop Chicago and was completed in 2007. It is currently the second tallest allresidential building in Chicago at 672 feet with 62 floors. The architectural firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz designed the tower and it was built by Magellan Development. The structural engineering firm Magnusson Klemencic Associates designed the building using Post-Tensioning in order improve the floor-to-ceiling height for residents. The tower is located in the Lakeshore East complex which, when com pleted, will house thousands of new residents. 340 on the Park is set flush next to Randolph Street, allowing unobstructed views of Millennium Park, Grant Park, The Park at Lakeshore East and Lake Michigan. The tower’s design also allows for nearby buildings to maintain some views of the park.

Building set 7

19. Streeter Place sell her residence in Water Tower Place, This apartment tower, in Chicago Illinois, according to the Chicago Sun Times. USA, has 55 floors and is 554’ tall. It was built from 2007-2009. 21. Tribune Tower The Chicago Tribune wanted to celebrate 20. Water Tower Place its 75th anniversary by building the “most Water Tower Place is a large urban, mixed- beautiful office building in the world.” use development comprising a 758,000 sq To that end, the company held one of the ft shopping mall and 74 story skyscraper most storied architectural competitions in in Chicago, Illinois. The complex is located American history. The winning design was at 835 North Michigan Avenue, along the a Gothic one belonging to John Mead HowMagnificent Mile. It is named after the ells and Raymond M. Hood. The building nearby Chicago Water Tower.Originally is steel framed and sheathed in Indiana li conceived in the late 1960s by the Mafco stone. Modeled by Mason Thrall. Company, the skyscraper was eventually built in 1975 by Urban Retail Properties, a company led by Philip Morris Klutznick and his son Thomas J. Klutznick. The project received a J.C. Nichols Prize from the Urban Land Institute in 1986. The tower section is a 74-story 859 foot (262 m) reinforced concrete slab, faced with gray marble, and is the eighth tallest building in Chicago and the twenty-sixth tallest in the United States. When built, it was the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. It contains an award winning Ritz-Carlton hotel, luxury condominiums, and office space and sits atop a block long base containing a highly successful, atrium-style retail mall that fronts on the Magnificent Mile. The building’s most famous full-time resident is Oprah Winfrey Having bought a $6,000,000 condo on November 28, 2006, Oprah says she is planning to eventually


22. Cook County Building & Zoning Department (Brunswick) The Brunswick was an early collaboration between SOM high-rise pioneers Bruce Graham, Myron Goldsmith, and Fazlur Kahn. For the Brunswick Building, Khan conceived a first-of-its-kind concrete tube structure. This innovation enabled the modular approach to high-rise construction later used on the John Hancock Center and Sears Tower.

Building set 8

23. Chestnut and Dewitt The Plaza on DeWitt was completed in 1966 as a residential apartment building at 260 E. Chestnut Street in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. It was converted to condominiums in 1975.[1] On the ground floor, a French bistro, Le Petit Paris, formerly Zaven’s, serves traditional French cuisine.[2] It has been noted[by whom?] to have many problems, including frequent dangerous elevator malfunctions and unrenovated units, and has suffered from poor management.[original research?] Recently,[when?] there are reportedly bedbug problems in the building and the Plaza on Dewitt management will not pay for bed bug eradication. It is most well known[says who?] for its two fires in 2002 and 2009 that injured over two dozen people and killed two people. However, the Plaza on Dewitt has not installed a sprinkler system to protect its tenants, and future deaths and injuries from fires

may result. The recent voice-activated alarm system has had flaws, with unintelligible voice alarms. In 2002, a fire on the 14th floor killed one and injured 11,[3] and on December 10, 2009, another fire, on the 36th floor, also killed one person and injured 12 people. About one third of the Chicago Fire Department’s equipment, with about 300 firefighters, responded to the 2009 fire.



PROGRAM athletic facility

The chosen program for this site is an athletic facility due to the eighty-foot-high spaces that were established during the design process.

These spaces brought

about the topic of recreation or training facilities due to the drastic height of the

spaces. Once considering an athletic training facility for the program, the reduction

of urban sprawl became a high possibility for the proposal, causing the chosen program to become even more viable. Reduc-

ing urban sprawl is achieved by this design through raising athletic fields and courts

vertically, rather than occupying large areas of a landscape or city with the drasAthletic area - basketball court

tic amount of horizontal space needed.

Athletic rooms Residential units Stadium seating/workout facility Circulation core


The design process for this thesis primarily entailed testing various structural ideas. In order to perform these tests, the process began with structural sketches as the first stage, then into form model

studies, and then into structural analysis models through the use of ETABS. Once the sketches and form studies allowed for a gen-

eral idea of the form of the building and how it should be oriented on the site, ETABS became the driving force for making decisions on which structural ideas worked and which ones did not. Once a successful ETABS model was established, perfecting the building’s legible instances became the main priority. This phase of the

process was done through the use of abstract structural drawings

using a combination of Revit Architecture and hand sketching.


DESIGN PROCESS form study - part 1

Form models were a successful way to quickly test structural form ideas and various ways to orient the building. All of the

form studies accounted for wind direction and the way the building would stratal the road.

From study 1

From study 2

From study 3

From study 4

From study 5


From study 6

From study 7

From study 8

From study 9

From study 10

From study 11


DESIGN PROCESS structural sketches - part 2

Structural sketches were a way to begin

to visualize the structure of the various form ideas that came from the form model

studies. The structural ideas are primar-

ily revolved around diagrid and x-braced

tube structures as well as studies of how to scale the road.

Structural idea 1 & 2

Structural idea 3 & 4

Structural idea 5 & 6

Structural idea 7 & 8

Structural idea 9 & 10


Structural idea 11 & 12

Structural idea 13 & 14

Structural idea 15 & 16

Structural idea 17 & 18

Structural idea 19 & 20


DESIGN PROCESS ETABS testing - part 3

ETABS models were the primary way to test structural ideas and allow official decisions to be made for the overall structure.

Structural test 1

Structural test 2

Structural test 3

Structural test 4

Structural test 5


DESIGN PROCESS structural abstracts - part 4

Structural abstract drawings were a suc-

cessful way to quickly visualize ideas for transforming the previous process into

a design project. These sketches tested ideas of how the building would touch the

ground, how it would touch the sky, and how the core would operate.

Structural abstract - ground

Structural abstract - core

Structural abstract - sky



FINAL DESIGN A legible structure

Site plan

Located at the site of Chicago’s previously proposed Spire building, this proposal expands on the work of Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan by continuing their innovation of authentic structures. While continuing this innovation is a top priority of this thesis, the Chicago site offers challenges and opportunities that allow for a new approach. The “Windy City” has influenced the form and orientation of the building, while North Lake Shore Drive has influenced the way in which it touches the ground. The result is a central core with three “fins” oriented towards the strongest winds that alternate from solid to void that allow for a rather slender and permeable form to reduce wind loads on the building. The “fins” have multiple purposes: other than reducing wind loads, they have a large contribution in distributing gravity loads that remove some of the load from the core. In the locations where the loads are transferred to the “fins” is where opportunities of legibility occur such as the increase in size of the diagonals that carry most of the load to the “fins”. The ground floor is then able to touch the ground with a single, large column as an authentic expression. The result is a legible structure in which the structural form assists in lateral rigidity rather than solely relying on the members of the structural system.

Aerial perspective



These images show the spatial experiences of the final proposal including the training area, ground floor plan, second floor green space, and the void space. Within each of these images, legible instances of the structural can be noticed such as the joint condition at the second floor, the single column transition at the ground floor, and the joint condition at the void space.

Training room perspective

Ground floor perspective

Second floor green space perspective


Northeast elevation

Southeast elevation

West elevation

Void perspective


Chicago skyline



The drawings for this thesis are meant to portray the legible instances that occur throughout the final design. As seen in the elevations, the red areas are showing the increase in size of the structural members due to the increased dead loads. As seen in floor plan A, three columns of the base grid are able to be removed to open the floor plan, allowing the training rooms to occur. The design of the details are meant to emphasize the removal of certain areas of the supercolumns, furthering the portrayal of authenticity that results in a legible expression.

Wind rose with plan orientation

Column connection details

Floor plan A


Northwest elevation - w/ legible members

Southwest elevation - w/ legible members

Building section

Floor-to-column detail

Floor plan B


FINAL DESIGN graphic summary


Anthony Louis Allegrone







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Graduate Thesis