Hancock Center Trivia

“Spider” Dan Goodwin Wall climber “Spider” Dan Goodwin successfully scaled the Hancock in 1981 (with suction cups!) in spite of a displeased Chicago Fire Department, who trained its hoses on him.

12th Tallest Currently, the John Hancock Center is the twelfth tallest building in the world.

132 Miles per Hour The Hancock’s massive crossbeams and tapering design enable it to withstand winds of up to 132 miles per hour.

191 Feet Down In order to reach the whopping height of 1,127, engineers knew that the enormous 384millionpound tower needed caissons to prevent it from sinking into the soft ground. Today, the John Hancock Center rests on several caissons that extend down to bedrock. One of the caissons actually reaches 191 feet below the ground the deepest ever sunk in Chicago.

344 Meters The John Hancock Center is a 100 story steel structure tower, 344 meters tall.

40,000 at the Base The skyscraper rises from 40,000 square feet at the base to 18,000 square feet at the summit. This tapered design provides additional structural stability against wind forces.

Architects The John Hancock Center’s architects were “Skidmore, Owings & Merrill,” the same firm to design the Sears Tower.

Big John The John Hancock Center is affectionately known as “Big John,” but it wasn’t always this way. Located on North Michigan Avenue along Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile,” the skyscraper was controversial from the start for its enormous bulk and dark metal exterior. Eventually, it was celebrated for its very brashness, and today it remains one of Chicago’s bestloved icons.

Blocked Windows The diagonals in the John Hancock Center completely block the view from two windows on each floor. Ironically, a rental agent has transformed these “blocked” windows into something of a status symbol; it actually costs more money to rent from these rooms.

Fastest Elevator The John Hancock Center boasts the fastest elevator in the world at 20 miles per hour straight up.

Floors Floors 15 of the John Hancock Center are commercial, 612 parking, 1341 office, 4492 apartment, 93100 television, observatory, restaurant, and mechanical.

Giant Steel Tube To keep such a tall building standing in the “Windy City,” engineers had to make the enormous structure super stiff. The John Hancock Center is actually a supertall steel tube. Steel columns and beams are concentrated in the skyscraper’s perimeter, and five enormous diagonal braces on the exterior walls of the skyscraper give it extra strength in the wind.

Hancock Plaza At the beginning of the Hancock project, it was controversial mostly because of the location of this massive tower, near the much smaller and more gentle buildings on Michigan Avenue. After its completion, most of the criticism dwindled. But much like with the Sears Tower, the plaza at the entrance was considered very user UNfriendly, being afflicted by heavy gales and loud traffic noise from Michigan Avenue. The plaza was redesigned in 1995 and now includes a 3.5 meter high fountain to muffle the noise and a recirculation of office and shopping traffic.

Lights On High The lights of the top floor of the John Hancock Center change color. Near St. Patrick’s Day they’re green, orange for Halloween, red, white & blue for the 4th of July, etc.

New Entrance The John Hancock Center redesigned its entrance in 1995 to become more userfriendly. The Sears Tower and Amoco Buildings did the same thing.

Skywalk In 1997, the John Hancock Center was remodeled, and half of the 94th floor’s southern windows were replaced with screens. Tourists can visit the “Skywalk,” as it is called, and breathe the outside air and hear the noise of the city below.

Tallest? When it was completed in 1970, the John Hancock Building was the world’s tallest, a title it didn’t hold long. It tops out at 1,105 feet, and its twin antennae add another 200 or so.

Three of the Tallest Chicago is home to three of the world’s tallest buildings:

Sears Tower. . .1,450 feet
Amoco Building. . .1,136 feet
John Hancock. . .1,127 feet