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ESD Poised to Embark on Big Upgrade at Willis Tower

When the Willis Tower opened in the 1970s, it lacked a welcoming lobby by design, an effort aimed to keep pedestrian street traffic into the skyscraper at a minimum.

That was then. It was announced on February 1 that the second-tallest building in the United States is about to undergo a $500 million facelift – and ESD will play a big role in the success of an expanded entry experience featuring restaurants, retail stores, first-class amenities and more to invite pedestrians in.

“Making the first floor open, accessible . . . is a smart idea. . . . It’s an investment in the South Loop,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’ll be more receptive to foot traffic for people coming, staying longer and also not going outside the South Loop for lunch.”

ESD will be involved on the ground floor (so to speak), though our team knows there will be challenges. One example: expanding the lobby of a 1970s-era building with breathtaking skylights and glazing while applying modern energy codes is no easy feat.

Our role in making the vast Willis Tower lobby energy efficient and sustainable is one more way ESD is Improving Society Through the Built Environment.