A Structural Engineer

Harold Sandberg

Harold and his wife, Alice, are not only some of the first residents of Harbor Point, but Harold[1] was also the building’s structural engineer, working along with John Buenz, its architect.

After college and a stint with the Navy, Harold arrived in Chicago and began working for Alfred Benesch & Company which was an overseeing consultant for the construction of Harbor Point.[2] It was his job to make sure that the building was constructed to stay upright! If the designers wanted to move a column, for example, it was Harold who determined whether the change could be accomplished without compromising the integrity of the building.

Harold helped convince the architect that it would be more economical to support the building with circular rather than four sided columns since they require only two forms versus four forms needed for four sided columns. Steel forms were built to shape the columns. They were made of two halves, and when bolted together looked like huge pipes. Before concrete was poured into them, vertical steel rods rose up through the columns and round steel ties encircled the rods to give them additional strength making it so the rods could not buckle. After the concrete was poured and set, the halves of the cylinder forms were unbolted, and reused on the floor above. The columns on the Lobby Level of Harbor Point have a larger than needed circumference to help give the building a sturdy look.

In order to know how to build a structure which would be sitting on new and old landfill, Harold consulted a Soil Mechanic Engineer, Clyde Baker.[3] Harbor Point is resting on a series of caissons that are sitting on bedrock.

Harbor Point is part of an area that was called the Illinois Center. A corporation, Management Structures, Inc., bought the air rights over the train yards and the ship slips, and made plans to develop the space. Part of the plan was to create an area of landfill. Those plans were also Harold’s responsibility. On the landfill side of the proposed wall, steel braces were set at an angle. Just below the top of the brace, a steel beam was attached against which were placed steel pilings that formed a retaining wall. The retaining wall went from just east of Michigan Ave., along the south side of the Chicago River, and east towards Lake Michigan. At the bridge that crosses Lake Shore Drive, the retainer wall stopped. It began again immediately east of the bridge, and went along the west side of the boat harbor towards an old retainer wall that went along the north side of Randolph Street. The area within the newly created area formed by the retaining wall was filled with material upon which buildings were to be erected, one of which was Harbor Point.

When Harold and Alice were thinking about moving into the building, they wanted to actually set foot in the space they were considering. They had to ride up the north side of the building in the construction elevators to reach the unit so they would have a good view from their future apartment. They moved into Harbor Point in the spring of 1975. (March 12, 2013)

1. Formally established in 1969, Harold was a founding member of Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings (CCHRB) which also included John Buenz, architect; and Irving (Gus) Cherry, Metropolitan Structures, Inc.
2. Harold became President and then Chairman of the Board for Alfred Benesch & Company.
3. Clyde Baker is a world renowned consultant who worked on the construction of the giant tower in Burj Dubai. Clyde was featured in the April 7/14, 2008 issue of Engineering News-Record, “For firming up the science of soil to support the skyscrapers of tomorrow, the editors of Engineering News-Record have selected Baker to receive this year’s Award of Excellence.” In the article he is referred to as a Geotechnical
Engineer.