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The Ledge, Chicago's Newest Attraction, Offers Thrill Seekers a Glassy Experience
July 1, 2009

The newest addition to Skydeck Chicago, part of the Sears Tower, dares visitors to be among the first to step onto The Ledge, a series of glass bays that extend from the building's 103rd floor. Reaching out more than 4 feet from Skydeck Chicago's west side, visitors have unobstructed views of Chicago —1,353 feet straight down.

MTH Industries, the Chicago-based 120-year-old glass and architectural metal contractor that installed Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, installed The Ledge's glass panels. Each glass box is comprised of three layers of glass laminated into one seamless unit. The low-iron, clear glass is fully tempered and heat-soaked for durability. The glass panels weigh 1,500 pounds.

The Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), the building's original designers, provided an innovative plan for this architectural and engineering achievement. SOM designed The Ledge so that the fully enclosed glass boxes rest between conveyer belts. The boxes retract into the building, allowing easy access for cleaning and maintenance. Each box provides unobstructed views of people, taxis, boats and bridges over Wacker Drive and the Chicago River.

"The Sears Tower set architectural and engineering standards when it was first built and now we are able to carefully craft new elements that expand the capabilities of the original design while retaining its integrity," said Ross Wimer, design partner, SOM.

"The Sears Tower has always been about innovation. For this new Skydeck experience, we have kept with that tradition. Cantilevering out from the side of America's tallest building, the viewing platform will allow visitors to see the incredible city of Chicago literally beneath their feet. This is a great addition to the Sears Tower and to Chicago," added Bill Baker, structural engineer partner, SOM.

For those not daring enough to step onto The Ledge, those visitors can stand on video screens to see what Chicago staples would look like if they were standing on The Ledge, 103 floors above the pitching mound at Wrigley Field, Millennium Park's Cloud Gate, North Avenue Beach and many other locations.

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