The Aon Center's new observatory will offer rare views of Chicago

by Andrew Manns | 20 Mar 2019

The Hettema Group and architecture practice Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) have been tapped to create a sky deck and visitor attraction at the Aon Center in Chicago, IL.

The redevelopment, the plans for which were recently finalised, will see the 83-storey building transformed into a public destination with multiple retail and dining amenities.

Connected to the ground floor via what has been called the "tallest elevator of its kind in North America", the observatory will provide sweeping views of Millennium Park, Lake Michigan, and the Loop.

Sheathed in glass, the ticketed 'ride' will be able to transport visitors 1,000 ft (305 metres) in 60 seconds.

The project is being developed by the property's owner, 601 W Companies; Legends Hospitality will serve as the observatory's operator, while MKA and Cosentini Associates are supplying mechanical and structural engineering oversight.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Matthew Amato, general manager at Jones Lang LaSalle, the company that manages the Aon Center, said the extension would "provide an incredible view of our city and give people an opportunity to see something they can’t see anywhere else".

Expected to be completed in 2021, the revamped building, which was originally designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1974, is projected to attract two million visitors annually and generate more than US$900m (€792m, £680m) for the city of Chicago over 20 years.

Aon Center  Chicago  observatory 
The Hettema Group and architecture practice Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) have been tapped to create a sky deck and visitor attraction at the Aon Center in Chicago, IL. The redevelopment, the plans for which were recently finalised, will see the 83-storey building transformed into a public destination with multiple retail and dining amenities. Connected to the ground floor via what has been called the "tallest elevator of its kind in
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The future attraction will feature a glass-encased 'thrill-ride', a restaurant, and retail shops. / Courtesy of 601 W Companies
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