Pasadena Firm’s Plans for Observation Deck at Chicago Skyscraper Unveiled

Published : Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 5:25 PM

Image courtesy The Hettema Group

Pasadena-based The Hettema Group’s design for the observation deck atop Chicago’s Aon Center has been unveiled.

Aon was formerly known as the Standard Oil Building. 601W Companies acquired the property in 2015 and began a $25 million renovation last year.

601W Companies has released renderings for the design, according to a report by RE Journals, a Chicago publication covering Midwest commercial real estate developments. The space would be the city’s third observation deck – after Willis Tower’s Skydeck and the former John Hancock Center’s 360 Chicago – making Chicago the only American city outside New York with three such spaces.

The Aon Center project would include a few design changes to the building, with some steel columns and granite cladding to be removed from the exterior above the 82nd floor to provide uninterrupted vistas.

The observatory would be accessed by an external, glass elevator installed in the building’s northwest corner. It would be the tallest such elevator in the world, RE Journals said.

Just as the Skydeck has The Ledge and 360 Chicago has Tilt as recently added attractions, the Aon Center’s observation deck will also include a feature to give tourists an outside-the-box experience. The plans call for a gondola on the roof that would lower up to 22 guests at a time over the building’s edge.

The attraction would cost an estimated $185 million and two years of construction to complete.

The Hettema Group (THG), the firm behind New York’s One World Trade Center observatory, was formed out of Phil Hettema and Associates, led by Pasadena native and ArtCenter College of Design alum Phil Hettema, who’s now the firm’s President and Creative Executive. The firm works with clients around the globe to “transform your visions into uniquely creative attractions, exhibits, shows and settings,” the company’s website says.

For more information about THG, visit








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