The chance to see a view of Chicago that few others have seen has been one of my life's blessings.
In The News
cranes & access magazinecranes & 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.

________________________________________________________________________________ graphic"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."
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Sky Cam-eraman
Tinley resident publishes book out of photos
taken atop Chicago's tallest crane
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Cranes Today magazine
Cranes Today

The independent magazine of the crane industry
February 2009

Above the clouds

Kenny Derry has worked as a crane operator in Chicago for thirty years. Will North spoke to his about his most recent job, the Chicago Trump Tower, and the photos he takes from his cab.

Derry says, "These were the highest tower cranes ever erected in Chicago. The Sears Tower was erected using derricks. At 1,000 ft like that, a lot of the time you're in the clouds.
    "Above 50 floors, once you trolley out you can't see the ground anyway, whatever the weather. It's very stressful sometimes. You can't see the other crane, you can't see the deck, a lot of the time you can't see the end of your own jib."
    Derry was born into a crane family. He says, "My grandfather and my father are retired operators and my (younger) brother is also an operator. We are all members of IUOE Local 150. I have 30 years in the Local, most on cranes. I've worked on tower cranes, crawlers, mobiles, derricks; pretty much any kind of crane. If it's got a hook on it I'm happy." For most of his career, he's worked for Chicago-based contractor McHugh. He says that although it does own cranes, the cranes on the Trump Tower came from Morrow.
    "Since being an operator, I've always kept a camera in the cab. It's useful for safety as well: when you see someone doing something wrong, you can take a snap and show them. I've been so busy though, I've missed a lot of great shots."


International Operating Engineer magazine
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.