John Hancock Center at 875 North Michigan Avenue in the Streeterville area of Chicago, Illinois, is a 100-story, 1,127-foot (344 m) tall skyscraper, constructed under the supervision of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, with chief designer Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Khan. When the building topped out on May 6, 1968, it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. It is currently the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the sixth-tallest in the United States, after the Willis Tower, the Empire State Building, the Bank of America Tower, the Trump Tower Chicago, and the Aon Center. When measured to the top of its antenna masts, it stands at 1,506 feet (459 m). The building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums and contains the third highest residence in the world, after the Trump Tower also in Chicago and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. This skyscraper was named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, a developer and original tenant of the building.
The 95th floor has long been home to a restaurant, the latest tenant being "The Signature Room on the 95th Floor." While patrons dine, they can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. John Hancock Center's Observatory attraction (called John Hancock Observatory) competes with the Willis Tower's Skydeck across town. John Hancock Center is in the heart of Michigan Avenue, a prime tourist hotspot in Chicago, while the Willis Tower is in the financial district. John Hancock Observatory is complete with full 360 degree views of the city, up to four states and over 80 miles. The Observatory has Chicago's only open-air SkyWalk and also features a free multimedia tour in six languages, narrated by actor David Schwimmer. From January to March, starting in 2011, the Observatory will also offer what the building management claims to be the world's highest ice skating rink, using a synthetic surface that will enable the use of standard ice skates at normal room temperature. The 44th-floor sky lobby features America's highest indoor swimming pool.
Construction of the tower was briefly halted in 1967 due to a credit crunch experienced by the owner, briefly leaving the building in a truncated form approximately 20 stories high. This situation is similar to the one currently being experienced with the construction of Waterview Tower. However, originally, the construction was halted due to a foundation engineering and soil mechanics miscalculation. The engineers were getting the same soil settlements for the 20 stories that had been built as what they had expected for the entire 99 stories. This forced the original owner to go bankrupt, which resulted in the insurance company of John Hancock to take over on the project.
The building's first resident was Ray Heckla, the original building engineer, responsible for the residential floors from 44 to 92. Ray and his family moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in April 1969 before the building was completed.
On November 11, 1981, Veterans Day, high-rise firefighting and rescue advocate Dan Goodwin, for the purpose of calling attention to the inability to rescue people trapped in the upper floors of skyscrapers, successfully climbed the outside of the John Hancock Center. Wearing a wetsuit and using a climbing device that enabled him to ascend the I-beams on the building's side, Goodwin battled repeated attempts by the Chicago Fire Department to knock him off. Fire Commissioner William Blair ordered Chicago firemen to stop Goodwin by directing a fully engaged fire hose at him and by blasting fire axes through nearby glass from the inside. Fearing for Goodwin's life, Mayor Jane Byrne intervened and allowed him to continue to the top.
The John Hancock Center was featured in the 1988 movie Poltergeist III.
On March 9, 2002, part of a scaffold fell 43 stories after being torn loose by wind gusts around 60 mph (100 km/h), crushing several cars and killing three people in two of them. The remaining part of the stage swung back-and-forth in the gusts repeatedly slamming against the building, damaging cladding panels, breaking windows, and sending pieces onto the street below.
On December 10, 2006, the non-residential portion of the building was sold by San Francisco based Shorenstein Properties LLC for $385 million and was purchased by a joint venture between affiliates of Chicago-based Golub & Company and the Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds. Shorenstein had bought the building in 1998 for $220 million.
An annual stair climb race up the 94 floors from the Michigan Avenue level to the observation deck called Hustle up the Hancock is held on the last Sunday of February. The climb benefits the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. The record time as of 2007 is 9 minutes 30 seconds.
On April 16, 2009 at 6:00AM CDT, WYCC-TV transmitting off the John Hancock switched to all-digital broadcasting, becoming Chicago's first television station to stop broadcasting in an analog signal. WYCC-TV is one of only two Chicago market full-power television stations which broadcast from the top of the John Hancock Center. The other is WGBO-DT, while all of the other area stations broadcast from the top of the Willis Tower.
Jerry Springer, host of The Jerry Springer Show, maintains a residence on the 91st floor. Prior to Chris Farley's death, the two lived in adjacent residences, and Farley later died in the building.
The John Hancock CenterOne of the most famous buildings of the structural expressionist style, the skyscraper's distinctive X-bracing exterior is actually a hint that the structure's skin is indeed part of its 'tubular system'. This idea is one of the architectural techniques the building used to climb to record heights (the tubular system is essentially the spine that helps the building stand upright during wind and earthquake loads). This X-bracing allows for both higher performance from tall structures and the ability to open up the inside floorplan (and usable floor space) if the architect desires. Original features such as the skin have made the John Hancock Center an architectural icon. It was pioneered by Bangladeshi-American structural civil engineer Fazlur Khan and chief architect Bruce Graham.
The interior was remodeled in 1995, adding to the lobby travertine and textured limestone surfaces. The elliptical-shaped plaza outside the building serves as a public oasis with seasonal plantings and a 12-foot (3.7 m) waterfall. A band of white lights at the top of the building is visible all over Chicago at night and changes colors for different events. For example, at Christmas time the colors are green and red. When a sports team goes far in the playoffs, the colors change, too. When the Chicago Bears made the Super Bowl the colors were blue and orange.
The building is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers. It also has won various awards for its distinctive style, including the Distinguished Architects Twenty-five Year Award from the American Institute of Architects in May 1999.
As seen from the Willis Tower. Lake Michigan is seen in backdropIncluding its antennas, the John Hancock Center has a height of 1,500 feet (457 m), making it the fifth-tallest building in the world when measured to pinnacle height (after Burj Khalifa, Willis Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, and Taipei 101).
The Skydeck elevators of the John Hancock center, manufactured by Otis, travel 94 floors at a top speed of 1800 ft/min (20.5 mph).