Monday, February 23, 2015

Sullivan Center - Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Sullivan Center - Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building (1898-1960) Louis Sullivan, D.H. Burnham & Co., Holabird & Root, architects (2001 - 2011) exterior restoration, Harboe Architects PC, architects /Image &Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In an era of big-box, super-sized retail outlets dominating the retail landscape, it might be hard to believe that there was once a time when a single department store contained more floor space than several big-box stores combined. In the first half of the 20th century, eight giant department stores occupied a six block stretch of State Street in downtown Chicago, offering-up just over 8,000,000 square feet of sales space. An amount that is equal to about 43 Super WalMarts, or 46 Super Targets, or an even more astonishing 200 Best Buys.

  [Sullivan Center  - Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building, 1 & 33 S. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Today's Sullivan Center/City Target building was once one of those retail behemoths - a single store containing miles of sales counters, more clothes than you could possibly try-on in a week, acres of books and home appliances, plus fine dining - all packed into 600,000 square feet. It all began over 130 years ago when Leopold Schlesinger and David Mayer joined the march from Chicago's established retail center on Lake Street, to its emerging center on State Street. They picked one of the best trafficked corners in the city - the intersection of State and Madison - where every major streetcar line in Chicago intersected. They took over half of the ground floor space in architect William W. Boyington's 1873 Bowen Building, where the dry good merchants hit pay dirt on the busy corner, and began an expansion program that kept them busy for the next 13 years.

  [Sullivan Center  - Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building, National Historic Landmark, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Bowen Building sat on a piece of ground owned by Marshall Field - proprietor of the department store up the street. The corner lot was leased by Field to one of the city's major real estate players, Otto Young - who owned the actual building. Young in turn leased the building to Schlesinger & Mayer, who wanted to demolish the older Bowen structure and build a new, modern department store. Architects David Adler and Louis Sullivan had already begun working with the dry goods vendors in a revamp of the Bowen in 1891, but by the time Schlesinger and Mayer were ready to build from scratch, Adler & Sullivan had dissolved their partnership and Sullivan took on the new project solo. So in 1898, work got under way on a project that grew section by section over the next 72 years.

  [Sullivan Center  - Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Although Sullivan's signature foliage began sprouting on the store's Madison Street    facade in 1898, the signature corner building didn't appear on the scene until 1903. The round bend followed the profile of the old Bowen structure, but after that, it was Sullivan all the way. From the lacy cast-iron base, to the ornately molded terra-cotta, to the finely crafted plaster and wood trim found inside, the building exploded in Sullivan's exuberant design. Then in 1904, just as the finishing touches were being added to the store, David Mayer announced he was ready to retire while talks were already underway to build a southern extension on property controlled by Otto Young. The existing building and all its contents were sold to Henry Selfridge, a key player in the success of Marshall Field & Co. Selfridge then turned around and sold the store and all its contents to Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. - an established Chicago retailer who had recently lost their lease on a building they rented across the street from Field & Co. Carson's agreed to grow into the space Young had planned on building to the south, but Sullivan was not invited back to design the addition. Daniel Burnham was brought in - an architect with a temperament much more to Young's liking - and Burnham & Co. designed a building which duplicated many of Sullivan's decorative flourishes, with a few trims here and there.

  [Sullivan Center  - Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Carson's occupied the corner of State & Madison for the next 103 years, with more expansions into adjoining buildings, including a final State Street extension in 1960 designed by Holabird & Root. The retailers bought-out their last long-term property leasehold in 1955, and for the first time, actually owned all the land under their massive store. When the jig was up for Carson Pirie Scott on State in 2007, developer Joseph Freed & Associates purchased the whole magilla and undertook an extensive restoration of Sullivan's landmark. The exterior now looks almost like it did the day the architect released his drawings for construction, and retail has returned to the first two floors with the introduction of Target Corporation's newest branding idea for dense urban blocks - CityTarget.

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