On the Wrong Side of the John Hancock Center

Recently I happened to be at the right place at the right time.  That means inside the 100-story John Hancock Center (875 North Michigan Avenue) when some windows were being replaced.

I had the chance to stick my head out into the breeze on a cloudy, wet day and feel the thrill of vertigo in my stomach and head.  As much as I love being up high, I have a fear of edges, so it took a lot for me to put my beloved Canon and my CrappyCameraPhone™ at risk.

I still get a little bit of queasiness when I look at this CrappyCameraPhone™ picture looking straight down the side of the building.  That horizontal member that tapers inward toward the right is one of the building’s famous cross braces.

From my experience being on the unsheltered roofs of buildings like the Carew Tower in Cincinnati, the G.E. Building in New York, and Chicago’s own Shoreham, I can tell you it’s not as windy as people assume it would be.  People who don’t live in skyscrapers have all these crazy notions about tall buildings.  About this time last year, emergency officials in Houston, Texas were telling people that for every ten stories up you go in a building, the affects of a hurricane are intensified by one Category.  Really?  So Hurricane Ike hit the top floor of Houston’s JPMorgan Chase Tower as a category 12 storm?  I don’t think so.

It was a little windy being out on the edge of the John Hancock Center, but it wasn’t any more windy than it was when I went down to the surface an hour later.

Looking up from the gaping hole in the side of the building showed… nothing.  Really.  Since the building tapers away and was receding in distance, too, there wasn’t anything to see but the bellies of grey clouds.  Disappointing.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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