Visitors to Chicago’s Willis Tower often enjoy standing on the building’s glass enclosures, which extend out from the side of the 103rd floor, allowing people who can overcome a fear of heights to see themselves “above” the city. This week, though, one group of visitors to the Sky Deck were more than a little startled when, after getting up from sitting to pose for a photograph, the glass beneath them started to shatter.
“We see it completely just shatter all the way through, and at that point, all four of us just completely rushed right out of it,” said Tony Saldana, who was visiting Chicago at the time. According to Willis Tower officials, however, the glass itself didn’t actually crack — only its protective coating did. The coating, when damaged, cracks in order to protect the glass underneath against scratches, but does not affect the structural integrity of The Ledge at all.
“Occasionally, the coating will crack, as it is designed to in order to protect the surface of the glass,” explained a spokesman for The Ledge, and he further said that a visitor using a sharp object likely cracked the coating during the previous previous.
All four enclosures were temporarily closed last week in order for the crew to conduct routine inspections, but are now open again to the general public. The glass enclosures are suspended 1,353 feet above the ground, and first opened back in 2009. Since 1973, the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the U.S. until construction on 1 World Trade Center was finished this year.