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John Hancock Observatory in Chicago getting new name, renovation

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A Chicago landmark is getting a new name and multi-million dollar renovation this year. The John Hancock Observatory will be renamed 360 CHICAGO in March.

"The observatory has long been a place of discovery for visitors and locals interested seeing the views, and who also share a love of history, architecture, and even urban planning," General Manager Nichole Williamson said Thursday in a news announcement.

Located at 875 North Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago, the 94-floor John Hancock Observatory was built in 1968 and billed as the tallest building in the world outside New York City. It is currently the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the seventh-tallest in the United States.

The skyscraper’s new name also comes with a tagline of “Best Views. All Around” to describe what visitors see when they step off the elevator at the 94th floor observatory.

In addition to being able to enjoy panoramic 360-degree views of Chicago, visitors also can see as many as four surrounding states. The observatory also provides interactive learning opportunities.

"For us, the entire new system identity - 360 CHICAGO - reflects the vibrant experience of what one can find here,” Williamson said.

The observatory is owned and operated by the Paris-based Montparnasse 56 Group. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., the skyscraper is home to offices, restaurants and about 700 condominiums. Nicknamed “Big John,” the building was originally named for the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, the developer and original tenant of the building.

360 CHICAGO also will undergo a renovation this spring with an emphasis on blues and greens meant to celebrate the natural land, sky and water elements seen from the observatory. The Gensler firm is doing the new branding.

"The color palette for the brand has been directly derived from actual observation deck views," Gensler Principal John Bricker said in a press release.

"Generating sophisticated, deep colors, the range of what is available within the brand is reflective of the range of perspectives one can get from the 360 CHICAGO experience,” Bricker said. “The palette speaks to the versatility of Chicago and looks to provide a dynamic representation of the city as a whole."

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