On Tuesday, March 13th, the winner of a competition to design a 21st-century time capsule for 875 N. Michigan (formerly John Hancock Center) will be announced at 360 Chicago, the building's 94th-floor observation deck. The building's original time capsule, which had been installed when the SOM-designed building's steelwork was completed in 1968, will be unsealed and on display at the event.
In early 2018, nine teams of architects and engineers in SOM's Chicago office submitted designs for the building's second time capsule. The competition was organized by 360 Chicago Observation Deck, and the winning submission was selected by a jury of renowned academics, designers, architects, and historians: Allison Fisher, Schiff Assistant Curator of Architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago; Lynn Osmond, President & CEO of the Chicago Architecture Foundation; Scott Duncan, Design Partner at SOM; Martin Kastner, Founder of Crucial Detail; and Nichole Williamson, Manager of 360 Chicago, Montparnasse 56 Group.
The new time capsule will be fabricated in the summer of 2018 and installed in the 360 Chicago Observation Deck for 50 years. SOM Design Director Eric Keune shared insight on both the appeal and value of time capsules, stating that, "The design problem of the time capsule is one of lasting interest to architects. Demonstrating our 50 plus-year commitment to the building, the John Hancock Center’s original time capsule will be replaced by a new design by SOM selected from a competition from within SOM’s new generation of designers. As pioneers of the integrated architectural and engineering solution demonstrated by the buildings unique superstructure, SOM view ourselves as stewards of its legacy. It is beholden upon us to ensure that this unique pillar of Chicago architecture remains a work of lasting value and relevance for future generations."
The original time capsule, known as the Skystone Time Capsule, was installed in 1968. Assorted Chicago souvenirs and memorabilia had been sealed in the capsule—left as a mark of the times for those who would open it 50 years later. Inscribed on the capsule's plaque is a testament of its purpose: "...Members of some future generation will break the time capsule's seals and find within a collection of artifacts and microfilmed documents and photographs reflecting interesting aspects of the history of Chicago, Illinois, and the United States of America." The collection included: a baseball autographed by the Chicago Cubs; a Chicago Blackhawks puck; a space suit worn by Chicago-born astronaut Eugene A. Cernan on his 1966 orbital flight and "space walk;" and a letter from then-Mayor Richard J. Daley to the president of John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, the owner-developer of the skyscraper.
Said Nichole Williamson, general manager of 360 Chicago, "We are excited to share with our visitors from around the world the items this building’s ownership found of importance in 1968, and we’re proud to have the original architecture firm’s next generation of designers creating a time capsule to replace it, capturing our own story and place in history now."
In the fall of 2018, a group of Chicago athletes, business leaders, celebrities, public schools students, and community leaders will come together to fill the new SOM time capsule with assorted memorabilia. The capsule will be sealed and installed in the 360 Chicago Observation Deck until it is opened in 2068.
About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, SOM has earned a reputation for design excellence with a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries, and has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with nearly 2,000 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, and Mumbai.