Monthly Archives: March 2014

John Hancock Observatory renovation nearing completion

The John Hancock Center

The John Hancock Center

One of my favorite things to do in Chicago is fly up to the top of the John Hancock Center and take in the view from the Observatory. I say fly because the fastest of the more than fifty elevators in the buildings travels at more than 20 mph. If you live anywhere near downtown and like to get away from it all for a little perspective on the world, an annual Sky Pass is one of the best deals in town.

Men at work: contractors have been readying for the opening of "Chicago 360."

Men at work: contractors have been readying for the opening of “Chicago 360.”

Recently they’ve been doing a lot of work up on the 94th floor, in what is to be a complete overhaul of the observatory experience. Apparently a new company is taking over, and will rename the venue “Chicago 360.” All the old “John Hancock Observatory” memorabilia is marked way down in the gift shop to make way for the new and improved gear that is soon expected. (Wish they would have told me that before I bought my jigsaw puzzle a couple months ago!)

View to the North from the 94th floor John Hancock Observatory.

View to the North from the 94th floor John Hancock Observatory.

I’ve chatted up a few employees around the observatory and apparently, there will be a new attraction when Chicago 360 opens, allowing visitors to be somehow “strapped in and suspended” for an even more miraculous – and intense – viewing experience. That was confirmed this Friday in local news reports, as ABC News Channel 7 informs. “Tilt” is designed to compete with the glass viewing deck over at Sears Willis Tower, no doubt.

It also looks like there’ll be additional casual seating areas and potentially a lighter, airier feel with a floor plan that seems to open up a little more than it does currently. At a minimum, all the construction mess that’s been there for months will be out of there!

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Much of the work is being carried out behind temporary privacy barriers that have been erected out of platform boards, mostly on the South side of the building where the screened-in, open air viewing deck is. Visitors are being treated to previews of the new look, however, in a series of artists renderings that adorn the makeshift walls.

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