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Willis Tower says goodbye to its ‘lunchbox’ entrance along Wacker Drive

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The glass and steel structure was demolished to make way for a new dining and retail complex

The lunchbox is dead. Long live the lunchbox
Photo courtesy of Equity Office

Demolition crews are removing an entrance pavilion attached to Wacker Drive side of Chicago’s Willis (formerly Sears) Tower as part of the iconic skyscraper’s ongoing $500 million renovation project.

Photo courtesy of Equity Office

Affectionately dubbed the “lunchbox” for its resemblance to an old-school domed lunch pail, the structure was well-known despite it not being original to the 1973 tower. It was added some 12 years later in 1985 when Sears, Roebuck & Company re-hired local architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in an earlier (and arguably not incredibly successful) effort to make tower’s lower levels more pedestrian friendly.

The lunchbox isn’t the only casualty of the ongoing renovation. Also missing from the skyscraper’s Wacker Drive frontage is the eight-ton steel globe created by Poblocki Sign Co. in 2010. The 25-foot diameter sculpture will, however, live on at its new home at the headquarters of Christopher Glass & Aluminum in suburban Elmhurst, Illinois.

Even the old lunchbox is poised for a second life, albeit in raw material form. According to building owner Blackstone Group and partner Equity Office, roughly 180 tons of metal and glass from the demolished atrium will be recycled.

Completion of the tower’s new Gensler-designed retail and dining annex is expected in late 2019 or early 2020.

At the opposite end of the 1,451-foot-tall building, an extensive overhaul of the popular 103rd-floor “Sky Deck” observatory is in discussion. Plans may include expanding the tourist magnet to a second level as well as adding new “thrill attractions,” including a chance to rappel down the side of the tower.

The “lunchbox” entrance pavilion and the globe sculpture were both removed to make way for the tower’s new ground floor revamp.
A rendering of the completed project as viewed from Wacker and Adams.
Gensler/Blackstone/Equity Office

Willis Tower

233 South Wacker Drive, , IL 60606 Visit Website