Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Citigroup & Ogilvie Transportation Centers
 by: designslinger

 [Citigroup & Ogilvie Transportation Centers (1987) Murphy/Jahn, Helmut Jahn, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Back when passenger railroad service provided the best way to travel long distances in this country, Chicago was the hub of the nation’s rail network with a group of spectacular terminal buildings. One such station stood where Helmut Jahn’s glass sheathed tower was constructed in the mid-1980s. With its post-Modern nod to Art Deco in undulating curves and alternating colors, the building was one in a series of designs that brought Jahn lots of press attention, and the title of architecture’s new Wunderkind.

  [Citigroup & Ogilvie Transportation Centers, 500 W. Madison Street, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Built on a site occupied by a grand, classic, Renaissance Revival train station owned by the Chicago & North Western Railroad, the old building was not without its supporters. Preservationists urged the C&NW to refurbish the old terminal and include a new income producing tower which could still serve as a portal to the 50,000 people a day who passed through the building on their way to regional commuter trains, but city power brokers would have none of it. The Landmark’s Commission voted to declare the 1911 Frost & Granger depot a landmark, but were rebuffed in their efforts by the city’s Planning chief who felt that the aging building was a detriment to the city’s efforts to revitalize the area. The City Council, who has the final say in the landmark designation business, voted against the Commission’s recommendation and demolition began in 1984 Among the doors, hardware and marble salvaged from the old building, the C&NW clock was saved and now sits up high in the ceiling of the new building’s atrium entry to the commuter train shed.  

 [Citigroup & Olgivie Transportation Centers, West Loop, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The portion of the old station that housed the train shed escaped destruction but was left to rust and peel until a $150 million rehabilitation effort was undertaken in 1993 and completed 4 years later. Today the former North Western Atrium building is called Citigroup Center, and the refurbished 1911-era train shed is known as the Olgivie Transportation Center with its recently opened, and hard to find, Chicago French Market. And Helmut Jahn, at age 71, may have aged beyond his youthful wunderness.

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