John Hancock Center
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Architect Bruce Graham/ SOM
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Location Chicago, Illinois   map
Date 1970   timeline
Building Type commercial office tower, skyscraper
 Construction System steel frame
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Modern
Notes Giant bracing criss-crosses facade. Dr. Fazlur Khan, engineer. (Kahn is a common mispelling of Dr. Khan's actual name).


Photo, exterior overview from a distance

Photo, exterior overview, looking up

Photo, exterior, base of the tower


Axonometric Drawing


Section Drawing

3D Model
3D Massing Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

3D Spatial Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

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Discussion John Hancock Center Commentary

"Situated on prestigious North Michigan Avenue, the one-hundred-story, multi-use tower tapers from bottom to top in order to accommodate the different floor space requirements of a variety of uses. Commercial spaces occupy the base of the tower while parking, office, and residential zones rise above. The tapered form provides structural as well as space efficiency. The exterior columns and spandrel beams, together with the diagonal members and structural floors, create the steel tube. The diagonals, spandrels and columns are clearly articulated to depict the primary elements of this tube. Less than thirty pounds of steel per square foot of floor area were used in the building, equaling that of a forty- to fifty-story traditional tower. The exterior cladding is black anodized aluminum with tinted bronze glass."

— from Bruce Graham. Bruce Graham of SOM. p46.

The Creator's Words

"The design of the John Hancock Center, in Chicago, was influenced by its unique site. Just off Lake Shore Drive, it is surrounded by huge, residential high-rise buildings and yet faces one of the city's most attractive commercial streets. John Hancock insisted on producing a tall building with residences above, offices and commercial uses below. The search for a new kind of structure which would accommodate multiple uses and also express the scale and grandeur of a one-hundred-story tower, lead Dr. Kahn and me to the diagonal tube. It was as essential to us to expose the structure of this mammoth as it is to perceive the structure of the Eiffel Tower, for Chicago, honesty of structure has become a tradition."

— Bruce Graham. from Bruce Graham. Bruce Graham of SOM. p46.


100 story steel structure tower, 344 meters tall.
Floors 1-5 commercial, 6-12 parking, 13-41 office, 44-92 apartment, 93-100 television, observatory, restaurant, mechanical

American Institute of Architects 25 Year Award, 1999

Sources on John Hancock Center

Bruce Graham. Bruce Graham of SOM. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1989. ISBN 0-8478-1087-9. LC 89-42 689. NA737.G715B7 1989. discussion p46. Exterior photo of buiding in context, f73 p49. — Available at

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

Yasmin Sabina Khan. Engineering Architecture: The Vision of Fazlur R. Khan. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, July 2004. ISBN 0393731073 . — Available at

William S. Saunders. Modern Architecture—Photographs by Ezra Stoller. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3816-2. exterior photo, p110. interior, p149. — A wonderful & inspiring book of beautiful photographs by the master of architectural photography. available at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about John Hancock Center


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