Five Challenges Facing Chicago’s Skyline


Chicago doesn’t have an iconic tourist attraction.  There’s no giant Ferris wheel, no observation tower, no famous bridge.  Entrepreneurs Lou Raizin and Laurence Geller want to change that with a gondola.  Over the past four years, the men studied more than fifty signature attractions in cities around the globe and came up with the Skyline as an iconic attraction for the Windy City.  As presented to the City Club of Chicago on May 3rd, the plan includes a gondola from Navy Pier with multiple stops along the Chicago Riverfront. David Marks, the architect behind the London Eye, collaborated on the innovative design with New York-based Davis Brody Bond.  Marks also designed the British Airways i360 observation tower with a passenger capsule built by Poma and Sigma.  The Skyline project would likely bring together the same team from the Eye and i360 with engineering firm Jacobs Inc. and ropeway technology from Leitner-Poma.

Mr. Raizin and Mr. Geller say they’ve spent millions designing and studying the Skyline, which will cost an estimated $250 million raised from private investors.  The premise is sound but the proposal comes with significant challenges.

1. What is it?

“This is not your typical aerial gondola,” Mr. Geller told the City Club.  The system would transport 3,000 visitors per hour at 800 feet a minute.  That’s pretty standard for a monocable gondola.  The challenge is architects want big, beautiful cabins while also keeping a “light footprint” for the system.  Renderings show approximately 25-passenger cabins with only one haul rope and no grips.  To date, the largest monocable gondolas in the world carry 15 passengers, not 25.  Larger cabins require track ropes, bigger terminals and complex towers with saddles.


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News Roundup: Skyline

  • Two men want to build an iconic gondola called Skyline along the Chicago Riverfront.
  • Sandia Peak unveils new tram cabins for its 50th anniversary.
  • Sugarloaf updates the public on its summer lift maintenance projects.
  • BMF wins contract for its first 10-passenger gondola to be built next year in Switzerland.
  • The owner of Gletscherjet 3+4 built last summer in Austria say it has already carried 3 million passengers, believed to be a record for a winter lift.  The system is an 8/10 combination lift interlining with a 10-passenger gondola.
  • Poma’s 2015 Reference Book is now online highlighting last year’s projects from around the world.
  • Are Vail Resorts and Powdr Corp. bidding on Eldora?
  • A New Zealand developer will test whether a Whistler-style bike park with its own high speed quad can stand alone without skiing.
  • Doppelmayr and its contractors take responsibility for a construction accident at one of the terminals under construction in La Paz that injured ten people on Saturday.