Protective Coating of Willis Tower Skydeck Ledge Cracks Under Visitors

June 12, 2019 Updated: June 12, 2019

Visitors were terrified after the protective layer of the famous ledge in Chicago’s tallest building cracked under their feet on June 10.

The incident occurred at the observation deck on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower, an attraction that gives visitors unobstructed views of the city at 1,353 feet up. Along with the panoramic views, visitors can experience feeling suspended midair by walking on any of the glass boxes, known collectively as The Ledge, each extending a bit over 4 feet from the building.

It was at this ledge where visitors experienced a new type of fear when the floor appeared to crack before their eyes.

Jesus Pintado, who filmed the incident, told WTHR that there was a “ksh ksh ksh” sound when the protective layer started cracking.

“A woman with two little kids and they looked like pale because the whole glass is cracked,” Pintado told the news channel.

He went on to surmise that the crack was caused by an object that fell from the ceiling.

“I think something fell from the ceiling because I saw like a little metallic piece, like a square, and it was in the middle of the crack of the glass,” he said.

A spokesperson from the tower told the news station that no one was ever in danger when the incident occured.

“The protective coating which acts like a screen protector for the Ledge experienced some minor cracking. No one was ever in danger and the Ledge was immediately closed. We replaced the coating last night and the Ledge is open for business as usual,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

This is not the first time the observation deck had to be closed to due to cracking on the protective layer in 2014.

A family who was visiting the tower discovered the cracks immediately informed the staff, reported Fox News.

Bill Utter, a building spokesman, told the news broadcaster that the integrity of the structure was not compromised during the incident, but instead, it was the additional top layer that had cracked. The layer is intended to take scrapes and scratches from routine use of the public, he added.

According to the Skydeck website, Willis Tower is the eighth-tallest building in the world, standing at 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall.

The tower attracts about 1.7 million visitors yearly since opening in 1974. The website said the inspiration of the ledge came from seeing forehead prints of visitors that are left on Skydeck windows during their attempts to get a glimpse of the views below.

The ledge was installed by the glass and architectural metal contractor, MTH Industries. The glass enclosure is made up of three layers of half-inch thick glass laminated into one seamless unit, the website states.

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