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The sign is so ugly we couldn't bear to show it prominently

Co.Design

Chicago's Best Burns About Trump's Ugly New Sign

In which Chicagoans flip the hell out about gigantic, "New-York-ish" branding on their newest skyscraper.

Chicago is nothing if not proud of its architecture—and rightfully so, given the originality and daring of the city on the lake. It is also fiercely protective of its skyline and fiercely opposed to all things New York, all of which have come to a head thanks to Donald Trump. When the Trump International Hotel and Tower was announced back in 2001 it was greeted with skepticism at first. After all, Trump is nothing if not the apex (or nadir, probably nadir) of a certain kind of Manhattanite, famed for his gaudy-bordering-on-repulsive buildings, which are coated in a sort of misinformed, outdated notion of luxury.


And yet when it was completed in 2009, the Trump International Hotel and Tower was not that ugly! A tiered, sky-blue skyscraper, the tower was greeted with grudging approval from Chicago's architecture critics. And then the sign went up.

This week, a massive T-R-U-M-P was spelled out across the tower in 20-foot-tall letters. When finished, it'll be 141 feet in length, but it's hard to get a sense of how huge the branding is in pictures, since it's on the second-tallest building in the city. Chicagoans seem to widely despise it; everyone from the man on the street to architectural critics, to journalists. The mayor is trying to have the size of the letters reduced, or taken down entirely. In Chicago, this is no small thing. To give you a sense of the civic vitriol sweeping across the Windy City, here are some of the best burns about the sign.

1. Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago
"Mayor Emanuel believes this is an architecturally tasteful building scarred by an architecturally tasteless sign," his spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said in a statement.

2. Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic
"To be sure, the nearby Tribune Tower has a prominently displayed sign, but it’s on an attached structure, not the neo-Gothic skyscraper itself. The Trump sign, by comparison, is a poke in the eye."

3. Chicago Sun-Times Op-Ed
"Trump’s sign—"TRUMP"—now being affixed to his skyscraper on the Chicago River, is no friendly beacon. It is no candlelit dinner. It is anything but a good neighbor. It is, rather, an obnoxious New York interloper, not unlike The Donald himself."

4. Richard Roeper, Movie Critic
Leave it to @realDonaldTrump to besmirch a beautiful building with a ghastly salute to his insecurity and ego.

5. David Schaper, NPR
Best headline: "Trump Stamp Has Chicagoans Irked At The Donald"

6. Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times
"A big Trump sign is not the Chicago way. Not to go all Garrison Keillor on you, but we’re Midwesterners. Modest people, the Pritzkers notwithstanding. Self-flummery is New York-ish."

7. Chicago Tribune Editorial
"At this writing it's T-R-U-M with the P under construction by judicious sign-hangers perched on scaffolding 16 floors up. The scaffolding is attractive by comparison."

8. Donald Trump Himself
The Chicago Sun-Times, loving the attention this story has given them, changed their lead picture on their Facebook page to a particularly ludicrous quote from Trump in which Trump calls the sign "magnificent and popular."

9. Mark Wilson, Senior Editor (And Proud Chicagoan) Here At Co.Design
In defense of @donaldtrump, his sign is actually the least repulsive part of Trump Tower.

10. Adrian Smith, Architect Who Designed The Damn Tower
"I think it hurts the image of the building and is done in poor taste. It also hurts the image of Chicago. How could the city officials that must approve these signs let this happen?"

Scott Olson/ Getty Images

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9 Comments

  • Funny 1 - Chicago, the crime capital of the country.
    Funny 2 - Chicago, the government corruption capital of the country Funny 3 - Chicago skyline, almost every single building has a name on it

    Why would anyone care about another building having a name on it???????

  • durwin

    So where is the Photoshopped "FRUMP" tower. That might mess with the enormous ego sufficiently to precipitate a change.

  • There's little "fun" in a Koons' chrome poodle, or a basketball in lucite. Just evidence of the "there's one born every minute" of the modern art market and buyer.

  • Marc Posch

    I think it's a fun piece of art, like the Ballerina Clown in Santa Monica or a Jeff Koons chrome poodle. I hope they'll cover it in gold with rhinestones

  • Eric Gockel

    It may hurt the image of the building. But let's check back next year and see how condo sales are doing and Sixteen restaurant.

    As far as reaching out to the city officials, how often do they (alderman) attempt to castrate architect's designs, sending them back to the drawing board for more watered down designs. I'm not sure about asking them for help when it comes to signage (see also: digital billboards)