John Hancock Center may change name, report says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The John Hancock Center, an iconic building that, along with the plaza, has remained virtually unchanged for more than 45 years, may be changing its name and its look.

The Hearn Company, which owns the commercial portion of the building, is proposing changes to the historic structure, according to reports, a plan that is ruffling some feathers.

"This is an integrity issue," says Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago. "There's a level of sophistication that goes into a super structure like this."

Miller says renderings of the changes proposed by the Hearn Company have floated around for several months. They include a glass structure in the plaza that would house a recording studio, and large glass canopies on either side of the building.

"All of these things that would come up three, four, five stories on the building would impact the design and architectural integrity of the great landmark," Miller says.

News of the potential building's potential name change is also causing upset. Alderman Brendan Reilly, who is familiar with the naming rights proposal, says buying those rights should not be easy and changes to the structure should be minimal.

"In my view, the Hancock building is worthy of consideration of a landmark," Reilly says.

But Alderman Bob Fioretti disagrees, saying the changes would be good for the building which he calls a dead corner in a lively area.

"We need to liven up that area, we need to bring life to the front of the John Hancock on Michigan Ave," Fioretti said.

Preservation Chicago will be reaching out to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks asking it to considering making the John Hancock Center a landmark, meaning any changes would have to go through an approval process.

A Hearn Company spokesperson told ABC7 Eyewitness News they are still updating their plan, which does include updates to the lobby and plaza, but they are still getting feedback from the public.

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