Sunday, March 15, 2015


Large office buildings are unoccupied during the weekends.  Even when they are occupied, office management, by custom if not fact, feels entitled to turn down the heat.  On Monday mornings the heat is turned up again and the ice that has collected on these buildings falls off onto the streets below.  Certain buildings seem designed to take maximum advantage of this effect.  In particular the diamond topped Smurfit Stone building at Michigan and Randolph used to be the best example of this effect.  The diamond roof dropped all the ice directly on the entrance. 
If there ever is a nuclear disaster I am sure that Chicagoans will still go to work.  I vividly remember people inching along the walls of the building hoping to get to their offices before being brained by the ice.  The ice dramatically shattered in the plaza before them sending fragments up into the air. Since then the building has constructed an entryway with shops on its plaza giving tenants greater safety. 
The Citibank center, formerly the Northwestern train station was a wonderful example of architectural spite. The scalloped roof would gather heat at the top, sending the ice and snow onto the lower levels, each iteration gathering more mass until some hapless commuter would be buried under an avalanche. The management finally built a large awning over the entrance area, spoiling the entertainment, or at least moving it to the street.
 The sensible bungalow solution of an awning in front of many Chicago sky scrapers is not for concern over rain or sun but because while we are willing to accept the occasional rare fatality from falling ice in the street it is more difficult for a building to get a favorable settlement if they were injured or killed in an entrance.

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