The Ledge transforms how visitors experience Chicago. At 1,353 feet up, The Ledge’s glass boxes extend out 4.3 feet from the skyscraper’s Skydeck on the 103rd floor, providing never-before-seen views of the city.
The tower is a world-renowned building, a Chicago icon. The eighth-tallest building in the world, it remains the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, standing 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall.
The Ledge brings an exhilarating new experience to the tower. Opened in 1974, the Skydeck attracts more than 1.7 million visitors annually who enjoy views of up to 50 miles and four states. Now, The Ledge dares visitors to attempt a new Chicago experience: stand on The Ledge and feel the city from 103 floors over Wacker Drive and the Chicago River.
The inspiration for The Ledge came from hundreds of forehead prints visitors left behind on Skydeck windows every week. From the memorable scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to curious children going right up to the window, visitors are constantly trying to catch a glimpse below. Now they have a unique and unobstructed view of the city.
An unmatched view is not all the Skydeck offers. From the moment visitors arrive they enjoy interactive and educational attractions that highlight the iconic building and celebrate Chicago’s sports, architecture, pop culture, history, food, music and people.
Original Sears Tower architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) designed The Ledge so that the fully enclosed glass boxes retract into the building, allowing easy access for cleaning and maintenance.
Experts in international structural glass design, Halcrow Yolles, fully designed and detailed all the glass and steel components. Beginning with the architect’s original concept, the engineers took the design one step further by eliminating all perimeter structural steel at the sides and along the floor of the glass enclosures and creating a near-invisible support system.
MTH Industries, the Chicago-based 120-year-old glass and architectural metal contractor that installed the Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, installed The Ledge’s 1,500 pound glass panels. Each box is comprised of three layers of half-inch thick glass laminated into one seamless unit. The low-iron, clear glass is fully tempered for durability.
The Ledge, opened in July, 2009, was in engineering design for one year and then took six months of construction to complete. Check out the attached video to learn more about The Ledge’s intricate design.