(Source: Reuters)

CHICAGO – There is a gaping hole where one of the world’s tallest buildings is supposed to go up.

The planned 150-story Chicago Spire would be 2,000 feet tall if it gets built atop its completed foundation, ranking the tower the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth-tallest among the world’s planned skyscrapers.

The Spire was supposed to be finished by 2012 and the Irish developer staged a global marketing campaign. Buyers snapped up a third of its 1,194 luxury condominiums priced between $750,000 and $40 million. Ty Warner, creator of the Beanie Baby toys, opted for the top-priced penthouse.

But after digging a 76-foot-deep hole and sinking caissons, construction on the twisting Spire — inspired, its famed architect Santiago Calatrava said, by swirling smoke from a Native American campfire — was stalled in January by the credit crisis that is stifling construction worldwide.

Globally, work has been halted on 142, or 11 percent, of 1,324 skyscraper projects, including 29 of 301 U.S. projects, according to Emporis GmbH, a German company that tracks development. Work is stalled on the five tallest buildings on five continents, including the Spire — Emporis refers to these landmark buildings as “Babel” projects.

Work was stopped on the kilometer-tall (.6 mile) Nakheel Tower in Dubai, one of scores of construction projects idled in the former Gulf Arab boom town. A January HSBC report said $75 billion worth of projects in the United Arab Emirates were suspended or canceled. Contractors complain of not being paid.

Other tall towers on hold are Moscow’s Russia Tower and the Gran Torre Costanera office building in Santiago, Chile.

Read Andrew Stern’s full article “Global recession stalls skyscraper construction” as seen in Reuters (March 23, 2009).

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