Saturday, February 21, 2015

Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist (1968) Harry Weese & Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Chicago architect Harry Weese has often been referred to as an "enigmatic genius." Weese was never identified with any one school or movement in architecture, he built new, restored and repurposed the old, and designed a subway system for Washington D.C. When the Christian Scientists asked him for a house of worship in downtown Chicago, the architect gave the 17th church an iconoclastic Weesian form.

  [Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, 55 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1956 the membership of 17th church purchased a small, triangular piece of property created by the intersecting streets of Wabash, South Water Market and Wacker Drive. Once packed with warehouses lining the Chicago River, the northern edge of the downtown business district had been transformed with the creation of Wacker Drive and the demolition of the old, brick storage buildings. With the removal of the buildings from the riverbank, this intersection became a broad, open plaza.  

 [Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

After holding on to the parcel for the next 10 years, while worshiping in rented auditoriums like Chicago's Orchestra Hall, the congregation was ready to build. Weese gave the followers of Mary Baker Eddy's scientific Christian beliefs, and the city, a building perfectly suited for its site, whose relatively small size takes on a monumental form with its curving, white stone, sculptural shape. In 2006, a developer who owned an adjacent piece of property proposed tearing down the church to make way for a large, new development. 17th Church said they weren't interested, and although the congregation only numbered around 70, had no desire to sell.

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