Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Platt Luggage Company Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Platt Luggage Company Building (1907) Howard Van Doren Shaw, architect; (2004) facade restoration & relocation, Antunovich & Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It isn't very often that you come across a building facade constructed of engaged columns made entirely of brick. It also isn't very often that you find a large brick facade on a building that is not located in its original location. But when you come across architect Howard Van Doren Shaw's classically inspired design, that is exactly what you get.

  [Platt Luggage Company Building, Ginn & Company Publishers Building, 2203 S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Shaw designed the building in 1906 for the Ginn Publishing Company, purveyors of elementary school textbooks. The building interior was typical, no frills loft-warehouse construction, but Shaw used brick in a highly unusual way for the Beaux-Arts exterior. It was a highly decorative design for an otherwise ordinary structure. The Ginn company gave way to Platt Luggage in 1945, which in turn had to give way to an expanding McCormick Place convention and exhibition center in 2003.
The Platt Luggage building at 23rd & Prairie, stood smack in the middle of what was to be the next great hall in the McCormick Place complex of buildings. Slated for demolition in 2000, the city looked for ways to work the existing building into the new design. The solution was found by dismantling the facade, 10 feet deep into the existing interior, and moving it one block north. At first, there was talk of cutting through the floor plates and roof and hauling the brick face in its entirety up the street. But concerns about movement and torque pushed that idea on to the back burner. So, instead of relocating the building front as a whole, the entire facade was dismantled, brick-by-brick, limestone lintel by limestone lintel, numbered and reassembled at its new location.
Today there are no books behind the wall, or pieces of luggage. Instead the facade fronts the Trigen-Peoples energy plant which keeps all those McCormick Place visitors cool in summer and warm in winter.

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