Posted on 16 Jul 2009
The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere was renamed Willis Tower today in a changing of the guard that underscores Chicago's increasing importance as a major global financial and business center. Joseph J. Plumeri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Willis Group Holdings, the global insurance broker, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley officially introduced the new name together at a ceremony at Willis Tower attended by Chicago business, community and government leaders, the building’s owners and management, and Willis’ Chicago-area Associates.
Opened in 1973 as Sears Tower, the 110-story glass and steel structure remains the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1,450 feet (442 meters). Willis Tower will be one of Willis’ three largest office locations, alongside New York and London. The company will occupy more than 140,000 square feet (13,000 square meters) of space in the building when nearly 500 Associates move in this summer from five area offices. Willis plans to add more jobs in Chicago in the coming years.
“Every member of the Willis family is honored to be associated with such an architectural icon and privileged to call this prestigious business address our new Midwest Region headquarters,” Plumeri said. “Above all, the naming of Willis Tower is an affirmation of our strong commitment to the great city of Chicago, its people and its future. Willis has been in Chicago since 1885, the same year that William LeBaron Jenney built the Home Insurance Building, the first skyscraper in the world. Over the years, we’ve grown as Chicago has grown, and we are delighted to be a part of the great future this dynamic city is building as a global financial center. We’re proud to call Chicago our home.”
Mayor Daley said: “Especially in these difficult economic times, a decision such as the one Willis has made sends an important message to all Chicago residents that our city is a vital place and that we are working hard to take the steps necessary to keep our economy moving. So I want to thank the company for their decision to locate in Chicago and for adding their presence to our skyline.”
At today’s ceremony, Willis presented a check for $100,000 to Chicago Cares, the city’s premier volunteer organization. Willis’ Chicago-area Associates have pledged thousands of hours of their time to serving the community. The company is also making a $100,000 donation to Chicago 2016 to support the bid to bring the Olympic Games to the city.
Scott Lorenz, Executive Director of Chicago Cares, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Willis and thank them for their generous investment in the Chicago community. Their commitment will support our work throughout the year, and we look forward to engaging Willis Associates in meaningful community service projects that help fellow Chicagoans in need.”
Patrick G. Ryan, Chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, said: “Chicago 2016 has always received strong support from corporate donors, and we thank the Willis Group for their donation to help us bring the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Chicago. We are in the final stretch of our campaign for the Games, and the continued support and guidance from the Chicago business community is vital to our success.”