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So Long, Urban Igloo: City Tears Down Glorious Downtown Ice Hut

By David Matthews | January 8, 2016 3:56pm | Updated on January 8, 2016 4:00pm

DOWNTOWN — Chicago's urban igloo that captured the attention of seemingly anyone on the Internet is no more.

The city on Friday morning tore down the ice hut, a structure at Columbus and Wacker drives, built by a nearby resident who said he was fed up with unshoveled crosswalks near his high-rise home.

By Friday afternoon the igloo was reduced to nothing but some scattered salt. Though the igloo's architect, David Sudler, said he was sad to see his creation go, he thought he had a "great conversation" about his concerns with the officials who took it down, including Charles Williams, the city's streets and sanitations commissioner.

"He's a real cool guy," Sudler, 58, said of Williams.

Made of big ice blocks and constructed around a streetlight, the approximately five-foot-tall igloo was first spotted by a freelance news photographer. Many speculated it was built as shelter by a homeless person, but Sudler said he built it simply to make use of the ice piled around his Wacker Drive home. 

"I'm tired of seeing people do face plants," Sudler told DNAinfo Chicago on Wednesday.

Sudler would also like to clarify: He wouldn't call his ice home an igloo.

"An igloo is round. This is a totally different type of building."

Sudler and his igloo as shown during happier times Wednesday. [DNAinfo/David Matthews]

Sudler was still beefing up his igloo Thursday, and planned to sleep in it a few nights. But he said he received calls that day from city officials saying the structure had to go, out of fear for motorists' safety on Wacker, a main thoroughfare in and out of Downtown. 

"With the rain and the higher temperatures today, we had concerns about the structure breaking down and falling into traffic," said Jennifer Martinez, a spokeswoman for the city's streets and sanitation department. "We wanted to work with the resident to hear what his concerns are."

With just a chisel, shovel and salt, Sudler said he began his work around New Year's Eve and built the igloo in 16 hours over two nights. He lifted the ice slabs himself, some of them weighing up to 80 pounds, and used a milk crate to stack the snow on the igloo's "roof."

Sudler said he never got to sleep in his igloo, but he hopes his interaction with the city will lead to improved environs around him. The Friday conversation was a good start. 

"I showed [Williams] all the plugged drains and piping around," Sudler said. "I'm going to be a consultant for the city." 

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