John Hancock Tower 200 Clarendon Street
Pei Cobb Freed and Partners 1976
(Henry Cobb, lead partner)
The John Hancock Tower is the tallest building
in New England, and stands sleekly on its own in Copley Square, away from the high-rise
area of Boston's downtown.
Despite is enormity in its local area, its
presence is made less overpowering by its pure, crystal-like geometry and reflecting glass
skin. The dominant view when you are close to the building is of the nearby historical
buildings reflected with subtle distortions of color and shape in the Hancock Tower's
The glass skin suffered massive technical problems when first built: many of the 10,000
windows habitually fell out, as the building responded to the pressures of wind and
changing heat. Solutions to this problem included installing a network of 10,000 sensors
stuck on each window, giving a special control room early warning of when a window's
vibration suggested it might be next to go. Not a story to remember when you're standing
next to the floor-to-ceiling windows on the (now closed)
60th floor observation deck.
With its windows now securely in place, the
Hancock Tower has regained its purity and elegance - especially on a sunny day when it
appears almost transparent against a deep blue sky.
Simon Glynn 1999,
How to visit
2001, the interior of the building, including the 60th floor observatory,
has been closed to the public.
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