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It Came From The Aughts: 7 South Dearborn's Joyride

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The Chicago Spire's sad spire-ral into oblivion a few years back was hardly the first towering architectural ambition to be toppled before its time in our glass and steel-gazing city – it's not even the first in recent memory. Take the ambitious 7 South Dearborn.

When the Chicago City Council approved European American Realty Ltd.'s sky-scraping plans in September 1999, the proposed structure at Madison and Dearborn would have been the tallest building in the world at a staggering 2,000 feet (that's including those 450-foot antenna).

The project was also notable for its innovative design: Architect Adrian Smith, then with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who would go on to design the Trump Tower and reigning tallest building title-holder, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, envisioned the 118-story mixed-use tower with a unique stayed-mass structural system. Smith's 2003 design called for columns, radially linked to the building's core by multi-storied trusses, ringing its perimeter. This would have made smaller interior space and a taller tower possible on the site that was once home to the Chicago Tribune before Tribune Tower went up in 1925.

But alas, things didn't exactly turn out as planned for the might-have-been-giant. Sure, the imaginative design inspired other buildings like the Trump Tower (and perhaps even the long-shot Post Office redevelopment), but even after all the frenzied excitement about the 7 South Dearborn proposal, the developer wasn't able to secure financing for the project. By mid-2000, plans had fallen through completely. Rumors swirled briefly afterwards that others were interested in reviving the project, but in 2003 DeStefano Keating and Partners' One South Dearborn, a far more modest addition to the Loop's skyline at 571 feet, was announced instead. The building was completed in 2005.

Little-known developer Scott Toberman's 7 South Dearborn, it seems, wasn't meant to be; falling before it could rise. And as a businessman Toberman himself didn't fare much better: He was sentenced to 64 months in prison on fraud charges unrelated to this project in 2010. You lose some, you lose some, eh Scott?
·7 South Dearborn [SOM]
·Life at the Top is About to Rise 175 Feet or so [NYT]
·Curbed's Could Have Been [Curbed Chicago]

—Gwendolyn Purdom