Time & Life
by: chicago designslinger
[Time & Life Building (1968) Harry Weese & Associates, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Some of you may remember the amazing photography that arrived in the weekly edition of Life Magazine, many of you have probably never even heard of Life. Time Magazine on the other hand is still publishing a print weekly of world news and events, but for how much longer in our digital age is anyone’s guess. In 1968, when construction began on architect Harry Weese’s Time & Life Building, life and times were very different.
[Time & Life Building, 541 N. Fairbanks Court, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Chicago was the location of the magazines 2,500 employee subscription department and the company was running out of room at its Michigan Avenue headquarters. Weese provided the Time/Life corporation with a structure that was well suited to their specific needs with floor spaces free of interior columns and an innovative elevator system which delivered arriving and departing employees more efficiently. Both choices ate-up less square footage inside which made for a more attractive sales pitch to the outside tenants who would occupy the upper 12 floors of the 30-story structure. The trapezoid-shaped, structural columns ringed the outside of the building and shrunk to rectangles as they neared the top while the elevators were double stacked, meaning one cab sat on top of the other which reduced the number of elevator shafts required for the building.
[Time & Life Building, Streeterville, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Weese also used a new product developed by the U.S. Steel called Cor-Ten. The product was meant to rust as it aged which made for an interesting looking exterior that would require little or no upkeep. It was quite controversial with the public, and still is. Some people like it, some hate it. And the U.S. Steel corporation no longer recommends using their product in architectural situations as siding or roofing. The steel has been found to not hold up as well as everyone thought it would in the snow, ice, and acid falling rain. Plus the rust stains everything that it sits on, so USS stopped pitching it as an architectural building material 20 years ago. Needless to say there are no more employees of Time & Life working here. Life as a print publication went out of business years ago, and Time’s subscriptions are probably handled in some overseas call center. So today Weese’s rusting trapezoid columns provide the expansive interior floor space to nearby Northwestern Hospital and the central offices of the Chicago Park District.