Sunday, January 31, 2010

Video and pics: Helicopter Lift at Water Tower Place

Several streets in the Gold Coast were shut down this morning so that new HVAC units could be lifted to the roof of Water Tower Place (845 North Michigan Avenue).

The sky crane picked up the HVAC units one at a time from the ball field at nearby Lake Shore Park, ferried them down Chicago Avenue, and then up to the top of the skyscraper.  Getting them over that lip is quite a feat, as it is 1,059 feet high.

The original lift was scheduled for January 23, 2010 but had to be postponed a week because of bad weather.

Helicopter lifts are much like baseball games -- simultaneously boring and fascinating.  I made a video of a portion of the lift to give you an idea what it looks like. I didn't bother shooting the transport of all six giant silver boxes.

More pictures follow the video.  Click on them to enlarge.


  1. Great video! A couple of interesting facts about this lift:
    · The cooling towers being replaced were the original towers, installed in 1975. These towers were chopped up and the pieces were brought down in a freight elevator and recycled.
    · Eight new cooling towers were installed. Each one weighs about 17,000 pounds and has cooling capacity of 900 tons. If you do the math, this is 7,200 tons of cooling!
    · The cooling towers supply air conditioning to about 3 Million square feet of space including shopping center, offices, hotel, and 260 condominium residences.
    · The top of Water Tower Place is about 860 feet above the sidewalk below.
    · The helicopter is the Erickson Air Crane: This helicopter is able to lift up to 25,000 pounds. The main rotor has a span of 72 feet and is driven by two jet engines with combined horsepower of 9,000 hp!

  2. Thanks for the details, Brian!

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  4. There's 4 cooling towers, each with 2 cells.


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