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According to the engineers, the design for the Vista tower “would result in building occupants feeling ill and possibly afraid for their safety,” Chicago’s zoning administrator, Patricia Scudiero, wrote in an April 26 letter to Jack George, a lawyer for project’s developers.

To prevent that, the developers requested — and the city OKed — an unusual change to the already-approved plan for the building: The 83rd floor of the 98-story, 1,198-foot East Wacker Drive tower will be an empty space that Chicago’s famous winds can blow through. If all goes as planned, this so-called “blow-through floor” will ensure that the riverfront tower’s residents and guests of its hotel won’t be grabbing for motion-sickness medicine.


Such measures have started to pop up among the supertall, superslender skyscrapers that are altering skylines in Chicago, New York, Dubai and other glittering city centers where the super-rich and the merely rich choose to live. Although experts say the Vista tower’s blow-through floor will be the first of its kind in Chicago, structural engineers here already have adopted other measures, both inside and outside buildings, to steady ultrathin skyscrapers