Chicago’s newest tourist attraction offers an angled view of the city from a steel-supported,

triple-laminated deck 1,000 feet in the air. Credit: 360 Chicago; YouTube


A time for travel, rest, and relaxation. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely not on vacation. (If you are, however, no judgment. Ceramics, glass, and materials science waits for no [wo]man.)

You may, however, be in the midst of making your summer travel plans. I know I am.

If those plans include Chicago—and if you’re bold enough to brave Willis Tower Skydeck after the 103-story-high sightseeing ledge *shattered under several tourists—then you’re also likely adventurous enough to check out the Windy City’s newest ginormous glass attraction.

(*Officials say it was the protective coating that encases the glass lookout, not the glass itself, that cracked. Either way, it won’t be on the itinerary for this fraidy-cat during her July trip to Chi-town.)

Housed at the John Hancock Center (which boasts its own equally famous observatory, now rebranded 360 Chicago), Tilt! tilts out some 30 degrees to provide patrons a downward view of the city from 1,000 feet up. According to the website, the angled attraction on the Hancock Center’s 94th floor is “epic” and “will forever change the way visitors see Chicago.”


A fish-eye view from Tilt, 94 stories above Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Credit: 360 Chicago


Equally epic are the engineering feats that make Tilt possible.

Designed by global design group Gensler, and developed by international engineering company Thomton Tomasetti, along with general contractor Turner Special Products, boutique specialty façade firm Cupples, and its sister company Enclos, the viewing window couples steel-supported, triple-laminated glass and heavy duty hydraulics in a marriage made in architectural heaven.


Steel-supported, triple-laminated glass and hydraulics give Tilt its tilt. Credit: 360 Chicago

In a press release, 360 Chicago says, “A one-of-a-kind experience, Tilt is an enclosed, glass and steel moveable platform that holds up to eight visitors per cycle. Once safely situated inside, the platform slowly tilts outward to an adventurous angle, generating downward-facing views of Chicago—from one thousand feet above The Magnificent Mile. Tilt gives thrill-seekers an exciting and safe way to take in unsurpassable views of the city, from a never-before-seen angle.” To see it in action, check out the video above (if you dare!).

And providing that “never-before-seen angle” isn’t easy.

Faced with a tight timeline—according to US Glass Magazine, Cupples began working on the project last November and it opened to the public in May—the groups also faced several challenges in taking Tilt from sketch to sky, “as the unique tilting aspect of the system resulted in work that involved ‘a lot of almost bridge-type building rather than building-type construction.’ ”

It also required squeezing a large amount of steel into not-so-much space.

“When you think about how much steel and how many parts had to be put together up on the 94th floor, it’s rather incredible,” says Rick Hamlin, Cupples sales manager.

If you want to experience it for yourself, admission to the angled deck, located in Chicago’s south area, is currently only $5, plus the cost of general admission to the observatory.

On a related note: If you’re making plans to visit Chicago (and if you’ve never visited, I suggest you do), you may want to check out this helpful how-to on determining whether the Skydeck or 360 Chicago (nee John Hancock Observatory) is right for you.

Feature image credit: 360 Chicago