Naysayers Say Nay to Hancock Center Name Change

Chicago’s most influential neighborhood group is giving a big fat raspberry to plans to sell naming rights to the city’s iconic John Hancock Center (875 North Michigan Avenue).

John Hancock Center - Chicago, Illinois - May, 2009 - 005aNIMBY group SOAR has fired off a letter to 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti letting them  know that they are opposed to a scheme by the Hearn Company to sell the name of the building to the highest bidder.  The Hancock Center was until recently in the 42nd ward.  It is now in the 2nd Ward.

The idea came to light last month when the Chicago Sun-Times published a rendering of the long-planned redevelopment of the skyscraper’s retail space.  The newspaper published a rendering which included a sign reading, “Naming rights for sale.”

The written thumb’s down was sent to the aldermen last week and includes the group’s reasoning:

While we respect the concept of private property rights, we believe that owners of iconic properties should be held to a high standard of stewardship.

SOAR supports and encourages ‘placemaking’ and creating gathering places for everyone to enjoy.  The newly proposed structure with enormous lit signage is not the direction we feel would be in the best interest of the future of North Michigan Avenue and the Streeterville neighborhood.  The architectural significance of the John Hancock Tower [sic] and the open plaza is renowned and celebrated.  It needs to be protected now as well as in 1988.

The 1988 date refers to a previous retail redevelopment plan for the Hancock Center, that SOAR helped defeat.

SOAR Hancock Center name change opposition letter


Location: 875 North Michigan Avenue, Gold Coast

Author: Editor

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

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