Closed due to high winds
May 5, 2008 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Some time ago, I was in Chicago and visited the Sears Tower. The observation deck was closed due to high winds. Why?

Are they concerned with the hats or possessions of tourists blowing off or is it some sort of elevator issue? If the latter, does this affect office workers on high wind days as well? None of the above?
posted by Morrigan to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
The top of very tall buildings such as the Sears Tower are designed to sway several feet if the winds are strong enough, which is great for the building but not great for the motion-sickness prone visitor.
posted by jamaro at 5:24 PM on May 5, 2008


Unless there's another observation deck that I didn't go to at the Sears Tower, the observation deck is actually a glass enclosure. Or at least the one I visited about a month or two after 9/11. There weren't any lines to get in, incidentally.
posted by Atreides at 5:36 PM on May 5, 2008


I used to regularly work on the 96th floor of the Sears Tower when I lived in Chicago. On really windy days it was amusing to go to the bathroom and watch the water sloshing in the commodes. And yes, the motion is not for the faint of stomach.
posted by pjern at 6:08 PM on May 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Used to work in the Sears Tower. Even on the lowest few dozen floors, the inner offices would creek like CRAZY on windy days. Drove their occupants nuts. Amplified to the top of the building, you'd probably wind up with people getting seasick up there when it's really blowing.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 6:13 PM on May 5, 2008


Went for one of my first post-university interviews way up high at the Tower. I had to leave in the middle because, even though it was my first interview, it was clear that hurling wasn't polite.
posted by answergrape at 6:33 PM on May 5, 2008


Is it a closed observation deck?

I went to the CN tower in Toronto back around 2000 when there was extremely heavy snowfall and storms in New York. They told us we couldn't go onto the observation deck because the wind was strong enough to knock us over.
posted by tomble at 9:52 PM on May 5, 2008


This has some explanation of how skyscrapers are built to sway, if anyone else was wondering. Kept me busy for an hour or so, anyway...
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:00 PM on May 5, 2008


When the wind blows, the building sways and creaks like an old battleship. The water in the toilets sloshes. Mini-blind wands wag and computers wobble. Your chair wiggles beneath you, sending the nervous energy of the skyscraper up through your torso and into your shoulders.

The wind breathes life into the 110-story tower, making the windows heave on especially gusty days.

The building was designed to withstand a 100-year wind, moving up to 3 feet at the top. In a 60 m.p.h. wind, which occurs once or twice a year, it moves about 8 inches at the top. On especially windy days, management slows the elevators so the cables don't get tangled.

Every now and then the movement of the building makes people sick. At least one visiting client had thrown up in the middle of a power meeting. A queasy client of Gronek & Armstrong once exclaimed to the attorneys that they must be crazy to work there. Pat Radloff, an office assistant whose credenza drawer sometimes slides open by itself, can't argue with that.


More here.
posted by wfrgms at 10:01 PM on May 5, 2008


tomble: "Is it a closed observation deck?"

Yes it is. The one time I went up, it was too cloudy to see anything. (They warned us first but I really wanted to go up.)
posted by IndigoRain at 11:06 PM on May 5, 2008


I've only been up to the Observation Deck twice, on non-windy days, and even on those occasions you could feel a little movement. Can't imagine being up there in a good blow.
posted by briank at 6:34 AM on May 6, 2008


Unless there's another observation deck that I didn't go to at the Sears Tower, the observation deck is actually a glass enclosure.

The Skydeck is on the 103rd floor -- you're not outside, nobody's hat's gonna blow off. The wikipedia mentions an alternate on the 99th floor for when the 103rd is closed.
posted by Rash at 6:11 PM on May 6, 2008


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