Aon Center Views Will Start Before You Even Reach the New Observation Deck

It was back in 2015 that we told you the Aon Center (200 East Randolph Street) is going to convert its 83rd floor into a public observation deck.

At the time we wondered how the building would handle a sudden influx of thousands of daily tourists.  The skyscraper has very tight security in its lobby area, and the notion of letting tourists share the elevator banks with office workers seemed like a non-starter.

Now the Chicago Tribune has the answer: A private elevator for tourists.  But not just a regular elevator.  A glass elevator that will climb the outside of the building, giving gawkers a thrill while keeping the office workers safely ensconced in their security envelope.

The Trib reports that 601W Cos has hired SCB up the street to design the glass-enclosed elevator shaft which will be on the northwest corner of the building, giving views of the heart of downtown like these, taken from the very corner where the elevator is proposed to be built:

With the Aon Center beloved by locals, though mostly unknown to outsiders, it remains to be seen how smoothly this idea will progress through the approval process.  However, it would be ideal for the city’s tourist industry since it places yet another tax-generating attraction in close proximity to other tourist draws like Millennium Park and the Chicago River.

Until the observation deck opens, we give you these photos from the Aon Center’s 83rd floor to enjoy, and get an idea of what the view will eventually look like.


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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  1. Needed and I’m excited for the outside elevator-

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  2. Very bad idea. Chicago does not need another observation deck. This project will not add revenue to the city it will simply divert revenue from the 2 existing observation decks in close proximity.
    Local neighbors will not want a lighted glass elevator delivering 2 million visitors looking into their hotel rooms, apartments and condos. Not sure the local offices will appreciate it either.

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