John Hancock Tower
Henry Cobb of I.M. Pei
Built 1972 - 1975

John Hancock Tower Photo Though John Hancock Insurance is currently marketing the sale of its headquarters building, the firm is committed to keeping its leadership in Boston.

At 790 feet, its sixty floors are the dominant feature on Boston's skyline. 10,344 panes of glass blend with the sky and reflect impressionistic images of the city around the John Hancock Tower. At night with its lights off, it is a silent hole cut in the center of the sky.

If Henry Cobb worked for a firm with less stature than I.M. Pei, he might not have had the opportunity to overcome Hancock's Herculean obstacles: Draining, Seeping, Bursting, Twisting, and Rocking. But what emerged is the City's most prominent and controversial building.

Pictured here you can see the reflection of the 1947 Old John Hancock building. Its art deco pyramid is topped with a weather beacon which uses different colored lights to announce approaching weather (a good role for the building of an insurer)

The unity and consistency of the building creates the design challenge of how to provide and announce its entrance. After a number of variations of awnings, the company recently planted trees which block the near constant wind associated with the building, while reducing the prominence of the entry.

How to decode the weather beacon
on the Old Hancock building

Clear blue
, clear view

Flashing blue
, clouds due

Steady red
, rain ahead

Flashing red
, snowstorm ahead

(or today's Red Sox game is canceled)

More Hancock Resources

Gallery of John Hancock Center Photo's from Mary Ann Sullivan's excellent site.


The man himself the real guy, U.S. patriot John Hancock.

  The financial services company with the same name  



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