A new point of view

12 May 2014

John Hancock Observatory gains unusual visitor attraction in tilting glass facade pod

The latest sky-high attraction in Chicago has opened at the SOM-designed John Hancock Center. Completed in 1969, the 1,127ft-high skyscraper recently welcomed a modern tourist attraction at its 94th-floor John Hancock Observatory, now renamed 360 CHICAGO.

Designed by Thornton Tomasetti with Gensler, Turner, ESD and façade specialists Cupples, TILT is a dramatic feat of engineering that allows visitors to mount a movable section of the façade which is then tilted to a 30-degree angle, giving a unique perspective of the street below and wider Chicago skyline.

TILT is essentially a 26ft-wide form composed of a stationary base structure and a movable viewing platform. The base is connected to the existing steel structure while the platform rotates on one axis, supported at three locations by the fixed structure. A trio of overhead hydraulic actuators extend to rotate the platform 30 degrees beyond the face of the tower.

Thornton Tomasetti details: “The viewing window is composed of several layers of reinforced, fully tempered glass panels. A similar system of layered reinforced glass forms a partial roof to prevent weather and debris from entering and exiting the space. Patrons stand in one of eight individual partitions along the length of the platform.”

The WAN Facade Award is now open for entries. Click here for details of how to enter.

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