Aon Center Getting an Observatory. Here’s What the Views Will Look Like

Aon Center view (Courtesy of Alex Goykhman)

Four months ago Crain’s Chicago Business reported that at least one of the companies considering buying the then-for-sale Aon Center (200 East Randolph Street) was considering adding an observatory to the 83-story building.  At the time critics were critical, saying that the building’s vertical fins wouldn’t allow for very good views, and that it was a bad location that couldn’t compete with the observatories at Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center.

Aon Center - Chicago, Illinois - July, 2005 - 004

Aon Center (Courtesy of Artefaqs architecture stock photography)

Then came this year’s Open House Chicago from the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and Piedmont Realty Trust opened the entire 71st floor to gawkers.  And man those naysayers were proven to be a bunch of know-nothing chumps.  The views from the Aon Center were the talk of the event, even days later.  Lines to get in snaked through the sunken courtyard as word spread of the spectacular views.

A month later, Crain’s has confirmed that Aon’s new owner, 601W, has decided to move forward with the observatory plan.  Suck it, haters.

As outlined by Mark Karasick, a managing principal at 601W, the 82nd floor would become an observatory, while the 83rd (top) floor would become some kind of restaurant and bar.  Similar arrangements are in place at other observatories around the world, like the John Hancock Center’s 95th-floor aerie.

As for the views, being ten floors higher should be an improvement even over what left mouths agape during Open House Chicago.  The extra height will better clear the spire of Two Prudential Plaza next door, though looking into that needle was a pretty dramatic moment that gave the view a sense of scale.

Couldn’t make it? That’s OK.  Chicago Architecture Blog photographerAlex Goykhman has you covered.  Here is a selection of the photos he took from Aon Center during Open House Chicago.

Aon Center view (Courtesy of Alex Goykhman)

Disclosure: The photos in this story were made possible thanks to a free priority pass provided to the Chicago Architecture Blog by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Location: 200 East Randolph Street, The Loop

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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