Magnificent Metal Monday

200 Clarendon Street (formerly the John Hancock Tower), Boston; Photo credit: Wikipedia

Yes folks, last night was not a dream. The New England Patriots soared to their 6th Super Bowl victory last night and have now tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the highest number of Super Bowl victories. To pay homage to this amazing feat, we head to their home city of Boston where the tallest building in New England “soars” above the skyline. Located in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, 200 Clarendon Street, is one of Boston’s most significant landmarks. The iconic all-glass tower offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Back Bay, Charles River, Cambridge, the Public Gardens, Boston Harbor and the surrounding areas.

Previously known as the John Hancock Towerand nicknamed The Hancock, the skyscraper stands at 62 stories and 790-feet (240 m). The tower was designed by Henry N. Cobb of the firm I. M. Pei & Partners and was completed in 1976. In 1977, the American Institute of Architects presented the firm with a National Honor Award for the building, and in 2011 conferred on it the Twenty-five Year Award. It has been the tallest building in Boston and New England since 1976. 200 Clarendon Street is the only office building in Boston recognized by the American Institute of Architects as one of the nation’s most beloved buildings. 

The tower was originally named for the insurance company that occupied it, which was in turn, was named for John Hancock whose signature appears on the United States Declaration of Independence.

November 7, 1971: The new John Hancock building, still under construction; Photo Courtesy of The Boston Globe

Here are 5 little know facts about the tower:

  1. Trouble from the start — During the excavation of the tower’s foundation, temporary retaining walls were erected to create space in which to build. The walls wound up warping though, giving way to the clay and mud they were meant to hold back. The inward bend of the retaining walls damaging utility lines, the sidewalk pavement and some nearby buildings.
  2. Motion sickness — Early on, occupants of upper floors often suffered from motion sickness. The building would sway too fast for comfort in regular wind conditions, moving a few inches forward and back and at the same time, twisting. Engineers would go on to fix the issue by installing something called a “Tuned Mass Damper,” which is also used for the Citicorp Tower in New York.
  3. Windows falling — Perhaps the most dangerous flaw on the tower was with the windows. Entire 4′ x 11′, 500-lb windows were detaching and crashing down to the sidewalks hundreds of feet below. Police had to close off surrounding streets whenever winds reached 45 mph. After a huge amount of testing, and a period when the building was covered by sheets of plywood, the problem was diagnosed. The issue turned out to be air space between the two layers of glass. All of the windows were replaced with single sheets of tempered glass.
  4. Observation Tower — The observatory atop the tower was once a very popular tourist destination. It was closed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. It has since been used sparingly, mostly for private functions.
  5. Its Worth — 200 Clarendon Street has been bought and sold four times in the past decade. In 2003, Hancock sold the tower and a nearby garage for about $639 million as part of a larger deal. Three years later, the same building and garage sold for more than double – $1.35 billion – as part of a larger deal. The housing bust sent the tower into foreclosure, where it was bought for $660.6 million in 2009. Those owners turned it around 18 months later for $930 million.

1 thought on “Magnificent Metal Monday

  1. Pingback: Magnificent Metal Monday — METALCON Blog – Chat Top

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