Chicago’s Willis Tower Skydeck Has Cracked

The tower owners claim the protective glass worked as designed. But will the experience ever be the same?

Chicago’s Willis Tower Skydeck Has Cracked
[Image: Willis Tower, Chicago via Shutterstock]

The Willis Tower Skydeck suspends tourists over 1,500 feet above the streets of Chicago. The clear flooring is like a roller coaster ride–thrilling but presumably safe. Except last night, NBC Chicago reports that one of the Skydeck’s transparent ledges cracked right beneath visitors.


Technically, the structural glass–which is actually three layers of glass rated to support up to five tons–may not have shattered. Public relations firm FleishmanHillard told NBC that it was only a protective coating over the glass that cracked. A Willis Tower spokesperson confirmed the same to the Sun-Times:

“Occasionally this happens, but that’s because we designed it this way,” he said. “Whatever happened last night is a result of the protective coating doing what it’s designed to.”

Image via NBC Chicago

But whether or not the Skydeck ledge’s structural integrity was ever in question isn’t really the point. The experience of the Skydeck is incredible because you feel like you’re cheating certain death by floating on air. It’s an architectural roller coaster, and to have that roller coaster derail beneath one’s feet–even visually–only adds to our innate fears that we should have never trusted this glass box floating 1,500 feet above the ground in the first place.

Read more here.

[Hat tip: Gizmodo]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.