Hancock Plaza

The John Hancock Plaze in spring (Chicago), © 2013 Celia Her City

It’s hard to imagine the Hancock Building without this wonderful plaza—but so it was for many decades.

Yes, the building has always had a sunken plaza, but the first one was entirely inaccessible from the street and exuded a deadening air of tranquility.  In winters, it became a skating rink, perhaps in imitation of Rockefeller Center.

In the 90s, the plaza was redone, the landscape firm of Jacobs/Ryan coming up with an ingenious steppy design.  The cascading stairs not only provide ingress and egress, but create an inverted small-scale amphitheater that makes the plaza cozy and compact—a perfect place to see and be seen.  The plaza receives thousands of visitors daily when the weather is decent, providing a welcome respite from the Michigan Avenue scene.

Soon the plaza’s curtain-wall of water will be running.  Blooming flowers and red umbrella tables will add a pop of festive color.

Historical images in links from this source.

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