The Magnificent Hancock Center and Bruce Graham - and the White Sox' Paul Konerko!

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I recently took on a listing at the Hancock Center, and since I enjoy learning about the buildings I work with I wanted to share some interesting history on the building and the famous architect who designed it, Bruce Graham!

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Graham became famous as the leader of Chicago’s biggest architectural firm, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, which he led from the 1960’s through the 1980’s.  He had a keen feel for what makes Chicago architecture so famous and for the legacy of the Chicago-based giants who came before him – Sullivan, Burnham, Wright, etc.  He expressed this feel in a 1992 video, saying “To my mind, American architecture, born in the Middle West, is an architecture born of people who know how to make things.”

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Besides coming up with the unique grid of girders that helped make the Hancock Center a world renowned building in 1969, he also designed the Sears Tower, which reigned as the tallest building in the world from 1973 to 1996 when it was toppled by the Petronas Towers in Malaysia.

The Hancock Center was never the tallest building in the world, although it did reign for three years as the tallest building in Chicago until it was surpassed by the Standard Oil Building, now the Aon Center, in 1972.

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The unique X style girders on the outside of the structure are 18 stories tall!  The great engineer Fazlur Khan was the genius behind the construction of both the Hancock Center and the Sears Tower.  His concepts on making tall buildings that can resist the force of strong winds have been adapted around the world.  Besides creating great strength, the methods he used led to much less steel being needed.  In fact, the 95 story Hancock Center was erected for the cost of a contemporary 45 story office building!

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It is called the Hancock Center and not the Hancock Tower because there were two skyscrapers planned for the development.  The second tower was to be erected to the East of the Hancock building, but the exclusive Casino Club at 195 East Delaware refused to give up rights to the land and the plans for the second skyscraper were abandoned!  A letter from the developer to the then-President of the Casino Club, Doris Winterbotham, was simply ignored!

Originally the residential units were rental apartments, but they were converted to condo units in 1973, only four years after the building was completed.  There were originally 720 units, but that number has gone down as owners have purchased multiple units and made them into larger homes. 

As a broker, I am impressed with the full range of amenities for residents of the building, making it one of the more exclusive and elegantly appointed sites in all of Chicago!

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Here are some final fun facts about the Hancock Center for you all to amuse your friends with and maybe win some bets!

  • Number of stairs from the Lobby to the Observation Deck – 1,632
  • Number of stories – an even 100!
  • Number of Light Tubes at the top – 555
  • The building sits on what used to be the first City of Chicago Cemetery!
  • The residential portion of the building is its own Voting Precinct!

Hope you enjoyed learning more about one of our City’s most striking buildings.

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Besides stunning architecture our town also has those Cubbies and the White Sox!  I got to use the Coldwell Banker tickets for Friday's White Sox versus Minnesota Twins game, right behind home plate.  I'm a big Paul Konerko fan, and right after this photo he pounded out a double to right center field.  Very exciting evening - and it was Fireworks Night! 

Keep having a Great Summer Everyone!

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