by: chicago designslinger
[Marquette Building (1895) Holabird & Roche, architects (2008) renovation & restoration, Holabird & Root, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Peter and Shepherd Brooks were two brothers from Boston who had made a fortune in shipping by the late 1870s and were looking for places to invest their money. They found an opportunity in Chicago real estate. The city was growing by leaps and bounds in the years following the 1871 fire, and the Brooks’ believed that the city would one day be the largest in the nation. They assembled a team of agents, builders and architects who would go on to construct some of Chicago’s most famous buildings, including Holabird & Roche’s Marquette.
[Marquette Building, 140 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
The Marquette was not the first project Brooks and company had put together, but William Holabird and Martin Roche were relatively new team players. The brothers and their Chicago agent Owen Aldis, had been using the powerhouse architectural firm of Burnham & Root, but had switched to H&R, including asking the team in 1892 to design an addition to Brooks-Burnham-&-Root’s 1891 Monadnock Building. Apparently pleased with their new design team, Aldis asked them move to join the real estate team on their next project, the Marquette.
[Marquette Building, National Historic Landmark, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
At the time, the architects, like many of their Chicago-based peers, were experimenting with new building technologies and design innovations which transformed the city and the world of architecture. One of the firm’s first experiments, the Tacoma completed in 1889, helped to propel architecture into the 20th century. In the Marquette, they moved farther into the future by supporting the entire building with a steel frame covered in a minimum of fire-proof required masonry, hinting at the framework beneath and allowing for wide open spans of glass, which became one of the benchmarks of modern construction and design. It also provided the architects with a system of construction that kept the office flush with commissions for the next decade-and-a- half. Utilizing the 3 basic components of the classical column’s base, shaft and capital, and applying that concept to the building facade, the Marquette sits on a base articulated by a heavy, guilloche-patterned terra-cotta, with a wide expanse of a uniform repetition of window openings, topped off by a heavy, column-capitalizing cornice. The Marquette won accolades of praise and was heralded as a landmark by journals and newspapers of the time, and became one of the buildings that defined what later critics and architects came to call, the Chicago School.