The chance to see a view of Chicago that few others have seen

In the News


cranes & access published by The Vertikal Press December/January 2010

Ken Derry is a highly experienced crane  and heavy equipment operator based in Chicago, Illinois. In his 30 year  career, mostly with James McHugh Construction, he has worked from the  depths of the city's deep tunnel project to a 400 meter perch high above  the city operating its highest tower crane, on the Trump International  Hotel and Tower. It was during this three year period that Derry took  the fantastic photographs that make up his first book, Chicago - A view  from the top.

As a keen and clearly highly accomplished  photographer, Derry charts the period from the cranes initial erection  through to the last skip of concrete poured and the erection of the  building's antenna, all from the top of his beloved Liebherr crane. This  is a beautiful book for both crane and photography lovers alike, not to  mention anyone with a love of the 'Windy City'. 

 The book is short on words, with the  occasional caption or poignant observational comment, the pictures say  it all. From fantastic sunrises, to icy scenes, views of the city and  candid pictures of iron workers in action, the book gives a unique view  of life at the top of a high rise construction project. This is a superb  piece of publishing, carefully and lovingly designed with a quality  hard back binding. A book to dip into now and again it would make an  excellent gift. 


"Derry’s book is a must-have for any enthusiast of architecture, construction and engineering. A 30-year crane veteran and shutterbug, Derry, 53, artfully illustrates the fear, guts, skill and pride it takes to build tall buildings." 


International Operating Engineer Spring 2009 Towering over Chicago's skyline

From the seat of his tower crane, Local  150 operator Ken Dery's "office" had some of the most scenic views of  the Chicago skyline. While his pictures, which accompany this article,  are proof of the breath-taking sights that he and other members of Local  150 had, perhaps what is even more breath-taking is the scope of the  project they have been working on over the last five-plus years.
   Rising 1,362 feet above the Windy City, sits the new 92-story Trump  International Tower and Hotel. Second only to the 1,450-feet-tall Sears  Tower in height, the $750 million project is scheduled for completion in  the next several months.
   Located on the Chicago River at the juncture of the Loop and N.  Michigan Avenue, the Trump Tower Chicago covers 2.6 million square feet  and will have 339 hotel guest rooms, 486 residential condominiums, a  world-class spa/health club, a 20,000 square-foot conference center and a  variety of retail shopping and restaurants along the riverfront.
   More than 100 operating engineers from Local 150 collectively worked  over 154,000 man-hours with the project's contractors to help make  Chicago's newest landmark a reality.
   The initial phase of the project began in 2003 with Local 150  operators working hand in hand with Brandenburg Industries Company, the  wrecking company responsible for taking down the former Chicago  Sun-TImes building to make room for the Trump Tower.
   "The professionalism of the companies we dealt with, as well as the  Operating Engineers Local 150 made the aggressive schedule and  formidable size of the project achievable," said Tom Little, owner of  Brandenburg Industries Company. "Their skills, from crane operators to  skid steer loaders, were on full display throughout the project and were  a key ingredient to the successful completion of the demolition phase."
   Bovis Lend & Lease, in Chicago, has worked at the Trump Tower  with Local 150 operators for over five years. General Labor Foreman Rick  Padilla directly manages both inside and outside hoist operators, which  accounts for about half of the operators throughout the Trump project.  Padilla states that having good operators controlling the elevators and  hoist in a high-rise of this stature is vital to the job.
   "With the hoist operators having to load 92 stories of a building  with material while moving over 800 workers throughout the day, in  addition to the 10 or more 20-yard dumpsters of garbage brought down in a  day throughout the mix, I credit the efficiency of the job to good  operators," Padilla said. "It was a pleasurable experience working with  the members of Local 150 and I look forward to the next big one.
   With over 40% of the total man hours worked by Local 150 operators at  the Trump Tower being with James McHugh Construction Co., the  contractor was yet another integral part of the project that  demonstrated the success that labor and management can have on a project  of this scale.
   Together with Bovis Lend & Lease, McHugh poured more than 180,000  cubic yards of concrete in just under three years as the concrete  subcontractor for the 92-story tower, making it the tallest concrete  building in the United States.
   Despite the building's size, McHugh work on a rapid schedule, pouring  a floor a week for the building's massive lower levels, and a floor  every three days for the upper levels. To handle the volume of concrete  and the extreme height, McHugh acquired a 680-horse-power Putzmeister  concrete pump, one of the first of its kind in the United States, to  drive the river of liquid concrete up through more than 1,700 feet of  tubing. The pump could push more than 6,000 pounds of concrete to the  top per minute, as opposed to 10-plus minutes per bucket via crane.
   "As to the operators for their long hours and patience, knowing that  cranes determined the schedule, they did a great job," said Dale  Hendrix, senior vice president of McHugh Construction. "Hats off to the  guys of Local 150."
   "On certain days the Trump Tower project would have over 900  tradesmen working," said Local 150 Business Representative Kevin Burke.  "With each craft needing their own aerial or manlifts to hoist them to  the ceilings, Local 150 is proud of their success in organizing the  rental equipment shops over the last decade. All 60 to 70 aerial and  manlifts used on this project by all the trades were delivered, repaired  and maintained by Local 150 members."
   In what couldn't be a more fitting ending to the Trump Tower Chicago  project, not only was it build by IUOE members, but it is also  maintained by IUOE members – with approximately 12 stationary engineers  from Local 399 working round the clock to ensure that the Trump  International Tower and Hotel is a first-class Chicago landmark.