John Hancock Tower

  • skyscraper
  • international-style
  • MA
  • Boston
John Hancock Tower
  1. About the John Hancock Tower in Boston
    1. Prizes & Awards
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The John Hancock Tower is an International Style skyscraper designed between 1967 and 1967 by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, with Henry N. Cobb as lead architect, and built between 1968 and 1976, for a reported $160 million dollars, in Boston, MA.

John Hancock Tower is not the only name you might know this building by though. It is common for companies to want to attach their names to iconic buildings when they move in, or for the general public to come up with nicknames, and this one is no exception. The John Hancock Tower is also known, or has been known as, The Hancock, Hancock Place, or 2000 Clarendon.

Its precise street address is 200 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA. You can also find it on the map here.

The John Hancock Tower has received multiple architecture awards for its architectural design since . The following is a list of such prizes and awards:

When teh construction had already started a potential flaw in the structural design was discovered. This flaw could potentially cause the building to collapse under certain wind conditions. To fix the issue the tower had to undergo a profound redesign and renovation during its construction, which significantly delayed the works and increase the budget.

Another issue that arose was the falling, in 1972, of some gigantic glass panes from the lower windows due to a defective sealing system in the lead welds that held the glass in place. The area was cordoned off, and wooden canopies were installed, leading Bostonians to mockingly refer to the structure as "The Plywood Palace".

Building's timeline

Design completed
Construction begins
Construction completed
years ago

Architect and team

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, with Henry N. Cobb as the lead architect, was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline involving many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the John Hancock Tower a reality:

  • James Rudrman in charge of Structural Engineering
  • John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company as the Main Developer
  • Cosentini Associates in charge of MEP Engineering

Architectural Style

The John Hancock Tower can be categorized as an International Style building.

The international style originated in Europe in the early 20th century, and made its way to the US a couple of decades later when the rise of the Nazi regime forced figures such as Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, or Mies van der Rohe to flee Europe.

The International Style emerged as a response to the prevailing historicism and ornate architecture styles of the late 19th century, which according to a younger generation of architects didn't represent the new materials and construction techniques that were on the rise at the time.

Architecture in the early 20th century US was marked by the adoption of steel structures, modern construction techniques, and the rise of the skyscraper. As it turns out, this combination of circumstances created the perfect ecosystem for the International Style to flourish, becoming the to-go style for skyscraper designs during the mid-20th century, when American cities were growing fast.

The International Style’s legacy can not only be found in numerous iconic buildings across all major American cities, but also incorporated in contemporary architecture, which still puts a big emphasis on functionality and minimalism.

The John Hancock Tower was designed in 1967. By 1967 the International Style movement had already left its early days behind and could be considered a mature movement, which does not mean it was loved and accepted by everyone, on the contrary. The International Style was accepted by the architecture community way before it was by the general public, and it is therefore likely that the John Hancock Tower was not well received by everyone at the time.

Spaces & Uses

The John Hancock Tower reaches an architectural height of 791ft (241m). It has a total of 62 floors, 60 above ground and 2 basements, served by 21 elevators.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1976, the John Hancock Tower has mainly been used as Commercial space.

791ft (241m)
2 basements

Materials & Structure

The John Hancock Tower uses a frame structure made of steel columns and reinforced concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

To avoid the possibility, although remote, of the skyscraper being toppled by the wind under certain conditions, especially from its short side, it was necessary to reinforce the central core with a significant amount of structural steel. Additionally, the entire 58th floor is dedicated to allocating two large metal counterweights to counteract harmonic vibrations during high wind situations

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a continuous, highly reflective, slightly blue-tinted glass, continuous curtain wall. The curtain wall was reduced to the minimum expression in the name of minimalism. Each floor is composed of one single large pane of glass, with no spandrel or any other division. The mullions are also reduced to the minimum.

The concept behind these decisions was to make the tower blend as much as possible to the point of almost disappearing against the deep blue of the sky.

The tower sits on a three-story-hight podium were the lobby is located.