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Donald’s Sign Trumps the Rest

Friday, June 20, 2014

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Money may not buy happiness, but it can bring magnificence, if you’re Donald Trump.

One of the billionaire's recent purchases are massive stainless-steel letters—about 20 feet tall by 141 feet long—that spell "T-R-U-M-P."

Sitting 96 stories high, the sign adorns Trump's riverfront tower in Chicago. In true Donald fashion, the eponymous structure has brought out a chorus of critics, including architects and the mayor of the city.

Trump Tower
Screenshot via CBS Chicago

Nearly six years after it opened, the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago now features its owner's name, irritating the mayor, among others.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called the recent installation “architecturally tasteless,” saying it scars the “architecturally tasteful building,” according to reports.

“The sign—which was already reduced in size and scope—does comply with the provisions of the planned development ordinance and the City Council sign order, but [the mayor] has asked his staff to determine if there are any options available for further changes,” spokeswoman Kelley Quinn told media outlets.

Trump Responds

Meanwhile, the real-estate mogul seems to be in no mood to make any changes to the $850 million Trump International Hotel & Tower, which was built in 2008. The city signed off on the branding in 2009, under the previous mayor, reports relate.

Moreover, Trump said via Twitter that many people adore the “magnificent” sign.

“I have the hottest brand in the world right now, and there are those who are saying I’m doing Chicago a favor,” he also told news outlets.

“The fact is that people love it,” he told Matt Lauer on NBC’s TODAY Friday. Trump has ornamented many of his structures with similar branding.

“I just think Chicago has other problems they should be worried about—not a sign,” Trump said.

Architect, Critic Weigh In

Others are not as convinced, seeing the sign as a dent to the city’s architectural reputation.

The sign is “in poor taste, it hurts the image of the building, [and] hurts the image of Chicago,” the building’s architect, Adrian Smith, said in a statement provided to news outlets.

Trump Tower
SolarWind-Chicago via Flickr

The building's architect has weighed in on the sign drama, saying the lettering hurts the image of the 96-story glass building.

Meanwhile, Blair Kamin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, wrote that the “The Donald’s badge of dishonor” is one better suited for Atlantic City or Las Vegas and threatens the riverfront’s dignity and beauty in this op-ed.

Trump retorted with a tweet, “Blair, you may be the worst architectural critic in the business but thanks for your nice reviews about Trump Chicago & sign PR.”

Sign Not Alone

The tower is not the only building with a prominent sign displayed along the Chicago River, CBS Chicago noted.

“The Kemper building and Hotel 71 both have signs facing the river, bearing their name. The Apparel Center also bears a large sign for the Chicago Sun-Times, which is now headquartered there,” the report said.


Tagged categories: Advertising; Aesthetics; Cladding; Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; Design; Government; Regional; Regulations

Comment from David Johnson, (6/20/2014, 7:18 AM)

I’ve been in Chicago all week for a conference. The sign looks good. As long as its compliant with city ordinances, I say leave it alone. I wonder if the democratic mayor and President just dislike having a critic in Chicago. Tough go Rahm and Obama, quit trying to make communists out of us.

Comment from Karen Fischer, (6/20/2014, 8:27 AM)

I don’t think it’s the sign, but the owner that Rahm has a problem with. Chicago is lucky to have someone willing to invest in that city.

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