The Home Insurance Building, Chicago.

CTBUH Returns Home for its 50th Anniversary

With the longest history of any modern city in building skyscrapers, Chicago is perfectly positioned to contemplate the integration of tall buildings into our urban fabric – from both a technical standpoint and a socially responsible one. The world’s first skyscraper – the Home Insurance Building – was built in downtown Chicago in 1885, initiating the now-essential use of the structural steel frame. In 1974, the Sears (now Willis) Tower took the title of World’s Tallest Building – and held it for nearly a quarter of a century. With a world-famous skyline that contains buildings like the John Hancock (now 875 N. Michigan) and the Aon Center, and an eponymous architectural style that emphasizes height through vertical lines, Chicago’s architectural signature is unique. Furthermore, the United States’ third largest city borders the country’s third largest freshwater lake – the massive Lake Michigan – granting Chicago the potential to lead urban environmental stewardship policies as climate change threatens resource access.

Chicago Skyline from the north.

When the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat relocated from its former headquarters in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Chicago in 2004, it was with the knowledge that the Windy City’s capacity to push architectural boundaries was what percolated the skyscraper typology over 100 years prior. It is with this same awareness that the CTBUH chose its home city for the 2019 World Congress, “50 Forward, 50 Back” in celebration of its 50th anniversary, through a conference that examines the past to inform riveting visions for sustainable cities of the future.

Join CTBUH in Chicago this October and November for an unforgettable experience as we take part in conversations that will shape the next 50 years of our urban planet.

A History of Tall Buildings and the CTBUH

Click the timeline for more detailed information on the history of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.