The John Hancock Center at 875 N. Michigan Ave. in Chicago, Illinois, is a 100-story, 1,127-foot (344 m) tall skyscraper designed by structural engineer Fazlur Khan of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. When completed in 1969, it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. It is the third-tallest skyscraper in Chicago and the fifth-tallest in the United States, after the Sears Tower, the Empire State Building, the Bank of America Tower and the Aon Center. When measured to the top of its antenna masts, it stands at 1,500 feet (457 m). The building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums and contains the highest residences in the world. 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. The Hancock Center's observation facilities (called the Hancock Observatory) compete with the Sears Tower's Skydeck across town. The Hancock Center is in a commercial district, while the Sears Tower is in the financial district. The Hancock Center 94th floor observation deck displays exhibits about the city of Chicago. Maps explain the view in each direction and a special meshed-in area allows the visitors to feel the winds 1,030 feet (314 m) above ground level. The 44th-floor sky lobby features America's highest indoor swimming pool.
One 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.
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 holidays.
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 25 Year Award from the American Institute of Architects in May 1999.
Including its antennas, the John Hancock Center has a height of 1,500 feet (457 m), making it the fourth-tallest building in the world when measured to pinnacle height (after the Shanghai World Financial Center, Sears Tower and Taipei 101)
The John Hancock Center was erected on the site of Cap Streeter's 19th century steamboat shanty. The area is called Streeterville after him, and consists of landfill reclaimed from the lake.
Construction delays due to a credit crunch in 1967 left the tower truncated briefly as construction was halted.
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 2008 is 9 minutes 38 seconds.
The Skydeck elevators of the John Hancock center, manufactured by Otis, travel 94 floors at a top speed of 1800 ft/min (Feet Per Minute), or 20.5 MPH.
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