Saturday, February 21, 2015

Erie on the Park
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Erie on the Park (2002) Lucien Lagrange Architects, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Designing a building always presents as series of challenges, but having to contend with a site shaped like a parallelogram is one of the more unique issues an architect might have to deal with.

  [Erie on the Park, 510 W. Erie Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As the 20th century turned into the 21st, developer William Smith presented architect Lucien Lagrange with the task of designing a building for the oddly-shaped plot of land. The intersection around Erie and Kingsbury had once been home to the Jones, Coats & Bailey Lumber Yard, a stove works, packing box factory, Aetna Iron Works, the Charles Emmerich Feather Pillow Co., the Rutlan Transit Co. Freight House, serviced by a bundle of railroad tracks belonging to the Chicago & Evanston Railroad Co., later the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad.

  [Erie on the Park, River North, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the time Lagrange and company appeared on the scene the old industrial area was already undergoing a transformation. Former industrial buildings had been converted into residential lofts, new apartment/condo buildings were sprouting up to the east, and when the last remnants of the old rail lines were removed a valuable, vacant, parallelogramed parcel of land emerged.The angle of the exterior walls were shaped by the site, but by moving some of the building's structural bracing from the interior to the exterior, the design team not only created wide-open floor plates but also a diagonal pattern that many people find reminiscent of the nearby John Hancock tower. Plus the plan provided some lucky penthouse residents with great balconies and spectacular views of the city. A view that was enhanced when the City of Chicago and the Park District purchased a 3-acre piece of land on the south side of the street, directly across the from 510 W. Erie Street, now Erie on the Park.
George C. Prussing & Henry Hosmer Double House
 by: chicago designslinger

[George C. Prussing & Henry Hosmer Double House (1877) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When George Prussing and Henry Hosmer moved into their double house in the late 1870s, they were part of a group of wealthy businessmen who were settling into a relatively unpopulated area of Chicago. Part of the burn district in the aftermath of the 1871 fire and located near what had once been the City and Catholic cemeteries, this block of Dearborn Avenue was on the cusp of becoming very fashionable.

  [George C. Prussing & Henry Hosmer Double House, 1516-1518 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Prussings lived in the tall, 3-story, bay-windowed doublet on the left hand side of the photo, while the Hosmers occupied the multi-windowed facade to the right. George Prussing made his money manufacturing brick, and used some of his pressed clay blocks to build buildings, which also increased the size of his personal bank account. The former president of the Illinois Brick Company, vice president of the Purington Paving Brick Company, and a director of the La Salle Portland Cement Company, died of a heart attack in his home on November 28, 1919, at the age of 73.

[George C. Prussing & Henry Hosmer Double House, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Henry Hosmer made his fortune in grain. He became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade in 1858, 10 years after its founding, but didn't move to the city until 1877 when the double house was completed. After Henry died in 1892, his widow Alice continued to live in her comfortable surroundings with daughters Alice and Abbie, Alice's husband Dr. Robert Preble, and the Preble children.
On October 6, 1915 a fire broke-out in the Hosmer/Preble home, apparently caused by faulty wiring in the butler's pantry. Alice, Sr. was in the third floor sewing room at the time, where she suffocated as she made her way to the main hall staircase. Daughter Alice who was in the house along with three servants, tried to rescue her mother, but was fought back by the smoke. She jumped from a third floor window and landed on the roof of the porch where she suffered serious injury. She died the next day. The two were buried side by side in Graceland Cemetery, in a double funeral.
Robert Preble rebuilt, and lived in the house until 1926. His daughter Barbara was married in the family home in 1918. Eventually the single family dwelling was converted into a rooming house, while the Prussing's 3-stories plus basement, was subdivided into apartments. The duo have been restored and refurbished with a matched-set of sweeping metal stairs, a contemporary tip-of-the-hat to the duplicate double house.
John F. McConnell House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [John F. McConnell House (1885) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Although John McConnell didn't build his Hawthorne Place house until 1885, he'd been a resident of this Lake View neighborhood since the early 1870s. His father Edward had come to Chicago in 1831, and bought large pieces of unpopulated, grass-filled land. And John was born on one of Edward's earliest purchases, the family farm near 22nd and Halsted Streets in 1847. As a young man, McConnell had started a picture framing and molding business, but sold his interest in 1884 when he decided to follow his father into the world of real estate investment. Along with his brother Benjamin, John purchased large tracts of land in and around the Lake View community, as well as in the downtown commercial district, and the McConnell brothers were in business.

  [John F. McConnell House, 546 W. Hawthrone Place, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When McConnell built this large 2-story brick house, Hawthorne ended at the shore line of Lake Michigan, just a few hundred feet to the east. The real estate mogul played a large role in the extension of The Lake Shore drive as it crept north through his neighborhood in the 1890s, hoping to make it easier for potential customers to access the properties he owned nearby. As the long-time city resident grew into old age in the 1920s, and the former suburban area grew more dense, Hawthorne continued to maintain the granduer of its earlier years with large, single family homes on oversized city lots. Amazingly, the final piece of his father's farm wasn't sold until 1930, when John McConnell's heirs sold the block at 22nd and Lumber Street, the last parcel of the original land grant given by Native Americans to Edward McConnell in 1836.
325 N. Wells Street Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [325 N. Wells Street Building, Chicago (1912) L. Gustav Hallberg, architect; (1985) adaptive reuse, Booth Hansen Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architect L. Gustav Hallberg's warehouse for the Chase & Sanborn Coffee Company is just one of two former warehouse buildings still standing along the main branch of the Chicago River, which was once lined with brick storehouses from one end to the other. Constructed in 1912, Hallberg's building had a more refined appearance than many of its plain jane neighbors. Sitting on a broad limestone base, with wide window openings and splash of classical detailing, Chase & Sanborn's coffee building was just one of a number of reinforced factory and warehouse buildings in Hallberg's portfolio.

  [325 N. Wells Street Building, Chicago, 325 N. Wells Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Hallberg emigrated from Scandinavia in 1871, and joined Chicago's buregeoning Swedish immigrant population, just in time for the Great Fire. Not as well known today as some of his contemporaries, he was a prolific designer, drawing up plans and overseeing the construction of houses, industrial and commercial buildings all across the city, right up until his death in 1915 at the age of 71.  

 [325 N. Wells Street Building, Chicago, Helene Curtis Building, River North, Chicago  /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1985 architects Booth Hansen Associates redid the interior and added a 2-story glass penthouse to the top of Hallberg's 73-year-old building for Helene Curtis Industries, manufacturers of personal care products. The company had been making shampoo since the 1920s, and their executive offices were located in their manufacturing plant on the city's near northwest side. When young Ron Gidwitz took over as CEO of the company after his father Gerald, one of the founders, moved into the chairman's chair, the Gidwitz's decided to move downtown and into the former Chase & Sanborn warehouse, then known as the Exhibitor's Building. The new 2-floor penthouse contained the boardroom and executive offices, providing directors and company managers with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline. The makers of Suave shampoo, the country's top-selling brand, were purchased by Unilever in 1996 and the building was put up for auction in 2003.
Today the penthouse addition is owned by DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time) makers of modular office systems, while Kimball Office and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology fill out the remaining floors once filled with burlap bags of packed with coffee.
North Avenue Pedestrian Bridge
 by: chicago designslinger

 [North Avenue Pedestrian Bridge (1940) Chicago Park District, M.J. Glicken, architectural designer; Lyman C. Riggle, structural designer; C.J. Kelly, structural engineer /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In the mid 1930s, with the help of the federal government's Works Progress Administration, or WPA, the drive we know today as Lake Shore started to become a reality. The idea of creating a roadway along the lakefront was not new. Potter Palmer persuaded the city to line the eastern edge of his Gold Coast real estate investment with a scenic drive called The Lake Drive in the early 1880s, which extended from Oak Street to North Avenue. The 1935 version of the expanded roadway bore some resemblance to a plan put forth by architect Daniel Burnham in the 1890s, as well as the Burnham and Bennett 1909 Plan of Chicago. But the idea of a scenic drive along the waterfront was scraped in favor of a superhighway, which one day, according to plan, could be connected to a system of superhighways throughout the region.

[North Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, Lake Shore Drive at the North Avenue/La Salle Street connector, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

One problem was that the 8-lanes of grade level concrete would cut-off access to the recreational beaches that Chicago's Park District was also planning to create, as a part and parcel of the massive landfill project required to create the Drive. So District engineers and architects drew up plans for a passerelle to cross over the roadbed at the new North Avenue Beach. For some reason the 1940 project was titled, Arch Passerelle near Menomonee Street, or Menomonee Street Passerelle. The street did line up with the footbridge, but it was located several blocks away on the other side of Lincoln Park, and far from North Avenue. But whatever its name, the 187 foot span would provide beach goers with a way to get to the lake from the Park, and would be one of the first welded, rather than riveted, bridges to be constructed in the U.S. The design was such as hit that it was featured in a 1944 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, and won several engineering awards for its welded joinery. In 1991, diagonal bracing was added to the main arch, helping to relieve some of the stress of the middle-aged walkway.

   [North Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, Lincoln Park, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It would also be the only above grade, dedicated pedestrian walkway constructed along the Drive from 47th Street on the south, to the roadway's end point at Hollywood Avenue on the north. All other pedestrian access would be through tunnels, or sidewalks adjacent to automobile entrances and exits.
The superhighway was designated a boulevard by the city, which kept trucks off the Drive, but still allowed buses to travel up and down its length. The speed limit was eventually dropped from 50mph, to 45, and today stands at 40, although most people seem to drive at a comfortable 55mph, including the buses. It wasn't until 1972 that the Chicago Plan Commission officially removed Lake Shore Drive from a 1940s-era Chicago Department of Superhighways plan to turn the highway-boulevard into a full-fledged expressway and connect it to other expressway routes. And although thousands of cars and buses hum along unimpeded every day, the passerelle has provided just as many thousands of beach lovers with a pedestrian friendly was to bridge the concrete gap.
Ogden International School of Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Ogden International School of Chicago (2011) Nagle Hartray Architecture, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When students arrived for school at Ogden International School in 2011, they were   entering a new building, but coming to the same location. The state-of-the-art, $58 million facility, replaced the Ogden Public School building of 1953, which was demolished in 2009 to make way for the International redo.

  [Ogden International School of Chicago, 24 W. Walton Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Ogden was named for William B. Ogden, Chicago's first mayor, owner of vast amounts of city acreage, and one-time president of the Union Pacific Railroad. He'd come to Chicago in 1835, from his home in New York, to oversee the sale of some of his brother-in-law's real estate investments located in the western outpost. In 1836, Ogden came back and stayed. After deciding to put down roots in the small town, the East Coast transplant asked New York architect John M. Van Osdel to design a house on a 4-acre piece of land north of the river that Ogden had purchased. Van Osdel came west to supervise the construction of his grand Greek Revival design, liked what he saw, took his client's lead, and relocated to the sparsely populated city, thus entering the history books as Chicago's very first architect.

  [Ogden International School of Chicago, Washington Square Park, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The first Ogden School was the tenth school built by the Chicago Board of Education, and originally stood at Chestnut and State Streets on land donated by the former mayor. Destroyed in the fire that burned the north side to the ground in 1871, the school was rebuilt, and rebuilt again in 1884. By the late 1930s parents considered the old building a fire trap, and finally in 1953, 700 students moved two blocks up State to Walton Street, where they began attending classed in their new, $1.2 million building. But 50 years later, the school was overcrowded and outdated. When plans were drawn-up for this replacement, the architects at Nagle/Hartray incorporated a number of architectural elements of the 1950s-era building into their new design. So as students enter their 21st century version of Chicago's tenth school, the buffed and polished granite and limestone inscribed panels can serve as reminders of 150+ years of Ogden school history.

  [Ogden International School of Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Marina City
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Marina City (1962) Bertrand Goldberg, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Are they Chicago's most famous buildings? Maybe, maybe not, but they are certainly two of Chicago's most photographed. Designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg in 1959, and first occupied by tenants in 1962, the "corn cobs" were instant landmarks in a city already packed with some great buildings. They were revolutionary not only for their design, but also as a new concept in city living.

  [Marina City, 300 N. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The 1959, decennial census figures were just around the corner, and the city's 1950 figure of roughly 3,620,000 was going to be down by about 70,000 people. Politicians, businessmen and labor unions could see the handwriting on the wall, and in an effort to stem the tide of middle and working class flight to the suburbs, William McFetridge, head of the Building Service Employees Union, came up with a plan. He decided to invest money from the union's pension fund into an apartment building complex that would not only create work during construction, but would offer employment to serivce employees afterwards, as well as generate interest income on the investment. It was good for the city, good for the union, good for business, and just might help kick-start a campaign of a new approach to city living, which in turn might help stem some of the exodus to the suburbs.

  [Marina City, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Most people thought the idea was crazy, including the federal government. The FHA wouldn't guarantee the mortgage loan because the tenants would be primarily single adults or couples, residing in a central urban location, which did not meet the FHA definition of "family" living. At the time, the U.S. government was in the business of promoting life outside the city limts by offering home loans and guarantees in suburban areas, as well as spending billions of dollars in freeway and expressway construction, giving people easy access from the city and into the hinterlands. In 1959, the feds were spending upwards of $3,000 per suburban resident, while spending just under $800 per city resident.
Mc Fetridge's brief to the architect called for the creation of a "city within a city" and Goldberg delivered. Not only would the residential towers be built over underutilized railroad tracks along the main branch of the Chicago River, but the complex would include a theater, an office building, a bowling alley, an ice rink and - a marina. Goldberg wanted to call the project River City, but apparently developer Charles Swibel's wife Seena liked Marina City, and got the final say. However, the architect did get a River City named project built along the south branch of the Chicago River decades later. His original plans for the Marina City towers looked very much like the tall, rectangular boxes being designed by his mentor, and fellow Chicagoan, Mies van der
Rohe. But within months the boxes were gone, replaced by round towers with apartment floor plans shaped like pie wedges trimmed with a crimped edge of arced balconies.
Today, the city's population has fallen into the 2.7 million range. However there are now approximately 180,000 people living within a few blocks of the corn cobs, where in 1959, there were none.
Jennie & James Foley Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Jennie & James Foley Building (1889) Patrick J. Killeen, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

There are some of us out there who look at a building like the Foley and think, "too bad   they can't build 'em like this anymore." Is it nostalgia, or just admiration for fine craftsmanship and great design? And if you consider that at the time, 1889, the Foley was not atypical, and just one, in a cast of thousands of other similar looking structures all over the city, it makes it all seem even more remarkable.

  [Jennie & James Foley Building, 626-28 S. Racine Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Foleys were Jennie and James, who selected architect Patrick Killeen to design their income producing property in an area filled with fellow Irish immigrants. From approximately 1860, up until around 1915, the neighborhood around Racine and Harrison Street was home to one of the largest Irish enclaves in Chicago. As the original settlers moved further west, they were replaced by a growing Italian immigrant population, and by 1930, the area was part and parcel of Chicago's soon to be identified Little Italy.

  [Jennie & James Foley Building, national Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

This was how Victor Arrigo and his extended family came to live in the Foley building.   Arrigo was a Sicilian immigrant, who became an attorney, and eventually the Illinois State Representative for this Near West Side district. Arrigo was also a prominent activist in the Italian-Amercian community, and was a leader in the fight to keep as much of Little Italy intact during the destruction of the neighborhood's housing stock, to make way for the new University of Illinois campus. The huge urban renewal project's field office was located in the former restaurant space once managed by Augie Arrigo, in the building's corner storefront at 628 S. Racine. Residents often came to the office to plead their case, not wanting to move, not seeing their neighborhood as blighted, and hoping for a reprieve. Some won, some didn't, and the school got built.
Although there are a few Italian-Americans still living in the neighborhood, Little Italy   exists today as a brand, primarily for restaurant owners marketing their Italian fare with a nostalgic connection to the old neighborhood.
Chicago Title & Trust Center
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago Title & Trust Center (1992) Kohn Pedersen Fox, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Long before Chicago Title & Trust moved into their sleek, white-trimmed tower in 1992, one of the buildings that made Chicago architecture world famous sat on this site. In 1891, as Burnham & Root's Ashland Block was nearing completion, the Chicago Tribune called the building one of the recently built structures "given to what's known as the Chicago style of architecture or Chicago construction." The Ashland was one, in a number of buildings, designed by a forward thinking group of Chicago architects which pushed the boundaries of commercial high-rise construction, and came to be known the world over as Chicago School of architecture.  

 [Chicago Title & Trust Center, 171 N. Clark Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Unfortunately by 1949, the Ashland was seen as just another old, out-of-date, too expensive to maintain money pit, and it was torn down to be replaced by architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's two-story, stainless-steel trimmed, Greyhound Bus Station. When that structure fell in the late 1980s, it was replaced by the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates white-enamel tower we see today.

[Chicago Title Tower /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Originally intended to have a twin just to the north on Clark Street, that project was put on hold when downtown Chicago found itself with an oversupply of office space in the early 90s. The title company relocated to this building from Daniel Burnham's Conway Building just down the street, where they had moved in 1948 from Henry Ives Cobb's Boyce Building, just around the corner at 69 W. Washington Street. When the business was founded in 1847, the one man operation was housed in offices in the Saloon Building, just north of, and across the street from, today's Clark Street tower. So for 164 years, the abstract compiling real estate concern has been located within a 2 block area of the city's central business district. Only the offices of the City of Chicago and Cook County, have been located in the same 2 block area longer.
Founded in 1847 by an office clerk who came up with a way to keep track of all the legal   and investment history on a piece of property, Edward Rucker was soon joined in his endeavor by Mr. James Rees. They drew up with one of Chicago's early maps, the Rees & Rucker Map of Chicago and Vicinity, 1849, which escaped the flames of the Great Fire in 1871. It was because of the heroic efforts of the employees of the title company that the city came through the aftermath of the fire as well as it did. Putting their lives at risk, they saved all their records, as well as every city map that had been drafted up to that time, which made identifying property lines, and owners, much easier in the mess left behind by the raging inferno.
Every once in a while there is talk that the second tower, partner to this one, will be built. But given today's economy, it may be another generation or two before that happens.
Francis R. Dickinson House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Francis R. Dickinson House (1911) Mundie & Jensen, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It's hard to know who made the decision to design this house in a Georgian Revival style - the    architect or the client. The architects - Mundie & Jensen - had designed a similarly-styled house across the street, and the client - Francis R. Dickinson - would have known that his house would be among a cluster of four similarly designed houses rising in the 1500 block of North Astor Street since all built within a year of each other by members of Dickinson's business and social circles.

 [Francis R. Dickinson/Betrand Goldberg House, 1518 N. Astor Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Maybe the Georgian decision was made for them. As the 19th century turned into the 20th, home style choices were changing for some members of the city's upper crust. The less ostentatious and less pretentious looking London townhouse of the Georgian era was emerging as a popular way to display your wealth in a more restrained architectural manner. The Dickinsons were members of that class and enjoyed living in their sedately facaded 20-room house until deciding to downsize to a nearby Lake Shore Drive apartment in 1940 and sold their house to the Walter Meads for $50,000.
By 1954 the Meads were ready to sell and found a buyer in Nancy Florsheim Goldberg - daughter of Irving Florsheim chairman of the Chicago-based Florsheim Shoe Company - who also just happened to be married to the soon-to-be-famous architect Bertrand Goldberg. It wasn't long after the Goldbergs set-up housekeeping in their Astor Street mansion with kids and servants in tow, that Goldberg - the architect - designed one of Chicago's iconic landmarks, Marina City.
The house is still in good hands, owned by another famously named Chicago family who have lovingly maintained its simple, yet elegant, Georgian heritage.

Cyrus Bentley House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Cyrus Bentley House (1911) Mundie & Jensen, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1911 this small section of Astor Street in Chicago's Gold Coast was abuzz with building activity. Five houses on five lots - three on one side of the street, two across the way - each one put together with tasteful Georgian Revival accoutrements by three different architectural firms. When Cyrus Bentley chose architects Mundie & Jensen to design his house on Astor, the designers had also just drawn up plans for another Georgian-inspired house across the street.

 [Cyrus Bentley House, 1505 N. Astor Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Cyrus Bentley was a lawyer, just like his father before him, and had a roster of clients that included the head of a prominent Chicago family, Cyrus McCormick. This Cyrus was not the inventor of the famous reaper, but the son who took the McCormick farm implement concern to the next level when he created International Harvester. Cyrus Bentley assisted his friend Cyrus in implementing the Harvester plan, and was the firm's lead counsel as well as the McCormick family lawyer.
The two were also good friends. They enjoyed spending a portion of their summers together with family and friends in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. So much so that they purchased, and kept purchasing, acres and acres of property which provided a vast refuge from the hurly-burly of city life. They built cabins, plotted hiking trails, (one of which was named the Bentley Trail) and invited their friends to join them for a few weeks each summer in the wilderness. Today the 17,00 acre property is a federal reserve open to the public.
Elizabeth King Bentley became very active in the fight against childhood tuberculosis and founded a sanatorium for children suffering from the disease, with applications for admission to the facility mailed directly to Mrs. Bentley's Astor Street address. She died in the house in 1953 after living there for 23 years as a widow. The early 50s were a time of many changes in the neighborhood, and by 1959 the servants quarters and storage rooms at the top of the 20-room mansion had been converted into an apartment. Today the house is divided into two living units, one condominium is made-up of the basement and first two floors, while the second condo includes the top two floors and a roof deck. All of it still tucked behind Mundie & Jensen's facade of dignified Georgian restraint.
William H. McDoel House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [William H. McDoel House (1910) Arthur Heun, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

We're going to spend the week on Astor Street. Not a large part of Astor, just around 60-feet on the east side, and 30 on the west. If you visit this little stretch of the 1500 block, you can stand in the middle of this small section and see 5 homes, built within 18 months of each other, all of similar style, but each with a different owner and 3 of them with different architects. First up is the house built by William H. McDoel which was designed by architect Arthur Heun. It appears that this was the first one completed.

  [William H.McDoel House, 1511 N. Astor Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

McDoel was a railroad man like so many of Chicago's other business titans, who made his fortune as the president and general manger of the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railroad. In 1910, when he built his Astor Street residence, McDoel chose one of the city's prominent society architects, Arthur Heun. Heun had started out as a practitioner of the Chicago-based Prairie Style, but soon abandoned the Frank Lloyd Wright-made-famous design for an eclectic multitude of historical stylings, which better suited the fashionable needs of his ever growing upscale clientele.
Huen's roster of clients read like a page from the city's Blue Book, and he became known for designing exquisite "farm" estates for the city's blue bloods in north suburban Lake Forest. Although McDoel got to spend just a scant 6 years in his trend-setting home - he died there in 1916 - one wonders, did his soon-to-be neighbors build their Georgian influenced mansions the following year because of Arthur Heun's stately design? Or was the trend already underway for this class of home builders who wanted a bit of an 18th century, London, terraced, townhouse feeling on Astor Street? Only they know for sure.
Charles H. Conover House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Charles H. Conover House (1900) Handy & Cady, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When Charles Conover commissioned architects Handy & Cady to design a house for him and his family in 1900, North State Street, just south of Lincoln Park, was still a newly emerging neighborhood. This part of Chicago's Gold Coast had been the final resting place of the city's north side Catholic population up until the 1870s, when the dearly departed were relocated further north as the living and breathing population edged closer and closer to the cemetery gates.

  [Charles H. Conover House, 1520 N. State Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Built in what the architects described as the Italian Renaissance Style, the house declared to all passersby that Charles H. Conover had arrived. He worked for Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co. who outfitted thousands of retailers across the midwest, south and western U.S. with everything from screws to pot belly stoves. Think the supplier to Home Depot and Lowe's, and you'll get the idea. Conover started out as a clerk, and rose to become president of the company. When he died in 1915, he'd been with the hardware supply firm for 44 years, and was a millionaire.

  [Charles H. Conover House, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The next occupants of the 19-room mansion were Henry H. Porter, Jr. and his young   family. Porter's father, H. H. Porter, Sr., was a Chicago railroad pioneer and owner, who is credited with being one of the driving forces in making the city the hub of the nation's rail transit system. He also started a steel company in Chicago that produced the rails the cars rode on. Shortly before his death in 1910, Porter's steel company merged with U.S. Steel, and because of all his other business interests, this created an estate worth several million dollars, of which Junior was a beneficiary. The young Porter family vacated the house after a publicly messy divorce in 1927, and big changes were in store for 1520 N. State Parkway.
In 1943 many large cities were experiencing housing shortages due to the war effort, what with the increasing number of workers needed to fill war related jobs. So seizing an opportunity, Chicago Title & Trust, the then overseers of the Conover/Porter mansion, divided the now 22-room house into 11 apartment units for families. The war workers would be charged a monthly rental of between $53-$55.00 per month for their unit. On average men earned $54.65 per week at the factory, while women in the same plant, doing the same job, earned $31.50. As for the Conover conversion, a spokesperson for Chicago Title was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying that the conversion would "prevent blight," as well as keeping the "mansion from becoming a 2nd class rooming house." The house is now divided into larger, more luxurious, condominium units.
In 1947 the former cemetery made the headlines when a plumber digging in the basement came upon a skeleton just beneath the concrete floor. And once again in 2010, when more more digging revealed another poor soul left behind in the dust.
Town Hall Station
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Town Hall Police Station (1907) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As you cross the intersection of Addison & Halsted Streets on your way to Wrigley Field, Whole Foods, or the bars in Boystown, you can't help but notice this handsome brick building on the northwest corner. Built in 1907, the Town Hall Police Station was constructed to house the members of the 42nd Precinct of the Chicago Police Department. Now, after 104 years of service, the building sits empty, someday to be integrated into a new senior housing development for members of the LGBT community.

  [Town Hall Station, 42nd Police District, 3600 N. Halsted Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Although technically the 42nd Precinct House, the building was called Town Hall Station from the get go. In 1871 this corner was well outside the borders of the city of Chicago, sitting close to the middle of Lake View Township, an area almost as large as Chicago itself. Lake View had been chartered in the 1850s, and by the early 1870s had enough of a population to warrant the construction of a town hall. The building was substantial: 3 stories with a high basement; a large stair/porch up to the second, main floor where the hall was located; with a tall central cupola to top things off. Lake View received their city charter in 1887, then 2 years later, the citizens of the City of Lake View agreed to annexation by their southern neighbor in a close vote.

  [Town Hall Station, 42nd Police District, Lake View, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

After Lakeview became part and parcel of the ever expanding city of Chicago, the old town hall was turned into the new station house of the 42nd Precinct, but everyone still called the 42nd, Town Hall. In 1906, the City Council voted to fund the construction of 8 new police stations, and one of them would be built at Addison & Halsted. The old, Lake View building stood farther back from the corner, so the new building was built before the old one was torn down.
The officers were very happy to move into the new, modern facility, and in 2011, the officers of the now 23rd District were happy to do the same. Town Hall was the oldest operating police district building in Chicago, and although the officers only moved 100 feet to the west on Addison, it was miles away from where they had spent the past 100 years.
Plymouth Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Plymouth Building (1899) Simeon B. Eisendrath, (1945) W. Scott Armstrong, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Plymouth Building you see before you today doesn't look quite like the building that was built in 1898. Although it always stood squeezed in between the much larger Old Colony to the left, and the Manhattan Building to the right, it grew by a story-and-a-half in 1945.

  [Plymouth Building, 417 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago / Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architect Simeon B. Eisendrath was a young, up-and-coming Chicago designer  at the end of the 1890s. He was born in the city in 1868, went to MIT for two years, and joined the prestigious firm of Adler & Sullivan in 1888 when he was just 20-years old. He ventured out on his own two years later, and although his portfolio was slim, he'd made enough of an impression that Chicago mayor John P. Hopkins appointed Eisendrath Commissioner of Buildings in 1894. The architect was brought in to clean-up a corrupt building inspection department, and soon found out that the entrenched, patronage-based establishment would have none of it. Ten months after his appointment he tendered his resignation to the mayor stating, "Aldermanic and other influences of the most insidious and evil kind have met me at every turn."

  [Plymouth Building, Chicago / Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By 1898 Eisendrath was busy designing and overseeing the construction of apartment buildings and factories. After a devastating fire burned the Schoeneman Building to the ground in March of that year, the property's owner W.D. Stein asked the architect to design a modern, fireproof structure for the narrow site in between its larger, taller neighbors. Soon after completing the Plymouth, Eisendrath headed to New York  where he formed a lucrative business partnership with Bernhard Horwitz, designing movie theaters, apartment buildings and Jewish temples.
As for the Plymouth, in 1945 LaSalle Extension University, a Chicago-based business school, purchased the building and commissioned architect W. Scott Armstrong to remove Eisendrath's heavy cornice above the row of triple window bays, add another story, and give the building a few collegiatic Gothic flourishes. Now vacant, the property is scheduled to be renovated and converted into housing for some of the tens of thousands of students who fill nearby former department store buildings, turned university and college classrooms.
Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board, Workers United Hall
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board, Workers United Hall (1928) Walter W. Ahlschlager, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1928, the Chicago Joint Board of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America moved into their brand new headquarters on Ashland Boulevard, and they became part of a growing group of other labor organizations who were establishing offices in the neighborhood, which came to be known as Union Row.

  [Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board, Workers United Hall, 333 S. Ashland Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Designed by Walter Ahlschlager, the structure contained offices, a large meeting hall, a library, gym and a dental clinic. The building became, and remained, the most prominent union hall structure in the area, which grew to include over 30 labor unions and locals by the 1950s. The clothiers union had been founded in Chicago in 1914 after a split with the more conservative, New York-based United Garment Workers. It all started in 1910 when a group of women walked out of the factory they worked in, after their wages were cut by the floor manager. As word spread, the walkouts increased, and soon over 40,000 workers in Chicago's garment industry were asking for stable wages and better working conditions. The men and women of the city's garment labor force worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week. They were paid by the piece, and were required to produce a specific number of pants, or coats, or whatever article of clothing they were sewing, per day. A coat took at least one-and-a-half hours to complete, and a worker was required to finish 10 coats a day, or they were fired. Floor managers also set rates on a daily basis, one day your pair of pants would earn you 6 cents, then the next day they were worth 5 cents, then 4 cents. When the women in Shop No. 5 at Hart, Schaffner & Marx arrived at work at 7:30 a.m. one morning, and were told they going to earn 3 3/4 cents for each pair of pants (which by the way included a new pocket design) and that they had to complete 14 pairs by 6:00 p.m., they walked out.

  [Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board, Workers United Hall, Near West Side, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Sidney Hillman was a young cutter at  Hart, Schaffner & Marx, the city's largest garment worker employer. Hillman became one of the leaders of the fair labor practices movement in the U.S., and as a result of his participation in the Chicago walkout, negotiated a contract with Hart, Schaffner & Marx that became the ideal of collective bargaining and voluntary arbitration agreements thereafter. Hillman went on to become the president of new Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America when the Chicago group left the UGW in 1914. The new union organized workers around the country, and Chicago became local number one of the expanding organization.
Through years of mergers and splits, Amalgamated Hall is now home to the Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board, Workers United, which represents workers in the clothing manufacturing and hospitality industries.
Borg-Warner Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Borg-Warner Building (1958) A. Epstein & Sons, William E. Lascaze, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

A few decades before the two towers in the middle of the picture rose above the skyline, the blue-hued building tucked into the center of the image helped introduce a new style of architecture to Chicago, and the Michigan Avenue building wall of heavy, massive, masonry.

  [Borg-Warner Building, 200 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Designed in 1955, the building was one of three new commercial buildings under construction in the city's downtown district, which hadn't seen any new construction since 1930. What made this project unique was that unlike the other two towers, this building was a spec building, not constructed by the owner/occupant. However, soon after the developer announced plans to build, Borg-Warner, maker of auto parts, signed-on to take over the top 5 floors, becoming the building's major tenant, with their name proudly displayed high above the penthouse.

  [Borg-Warner Building, Historic Michigan Boulevard District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Not only did the structure replace Solon S. Beman's Pullman Building of dark, heavy, 9-foot-thick walled masonry, but it brought a modern, International Style building to Chicago's front yard. Designed by the Chicago firm of A. Epstein & Sons, New York architect William Lascaze was brought in as consulting architect, credited with designing the first International Style building in the United States in 1932, the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society Building. It was also in that year that the Museum of Modern Art in New York held an exhibition called the International Exhibition of Modern Architecture, which included the works of modernists like Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, J.J.P. Oud and Corbusier. The exhibit's curator, architect Phillip Johnson, and the architectural critic Henry Russell-Hitchcock coined the phrase, which came to define mid-century modern architecture.
Internationalists embraced and pushed the limits of building design and technology in their work, just as a group of Chicago architects had done a generation before. For the International crowd, technological advances allowed them to push the steel-framed structure to new heights. A building no longer had to be defined by its mass, but by its volume, enclosing space in a light frame, wrapped in a light skin (the blue panels were only 1 1/2 inches thick), and opening up the base of the building by raising it off the ground in a series of thin, sleek pilotis. When the Borg-Warner was ready for occupancy in 1958, it stood out from its mortar-lined crowd along Michigan Avenue.
Even though the company moved out of the building in 2003, their name still sits on top. And although the structure sits in the middle of a designated historic district, it is not among the historically designated buildings since the criteria cut-off date for historic status was set at 1930. Yet the Epstein/Lescaze design seems to have had an impact beyond its Michigan and Adams street corner. Although the majority of the buildings that make up the visually stunning Michigan Avenue street wall were built between 1882 and 1930, the handful that joined the eye-pleasing parade after 1958, almost to a structure, have blue spandrel panels and/or a hint of blue in their glistening glass facades.
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Aqua (2010) Studio Gang Architects, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Just over a month ago, the MacArthur Foundation announced the winners of their $500,000 2011 fellowship grants, and Jeanne Gang, only the 4th architect to receive the honor out of the 850 given so far, became a fellow. To date, Aqua, which opened its doors in 2010, is the internationally recognized crown jewel in the Studio Gang portfolio.

[Aqua, 225 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Aqua's undulating sensuality is home to offices, condo dwellers, apartment renters and a soon to open hotel. The building became an instant Chicago landmark, and put Jeanne Gang and the Studio on the pop culture map.

  [Aqua, Illinois Center, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It's hard to believe that this building, or any of the others in the cluster of structures just north of Millennium Park, sits on a site, that just 40 years ago, was a closed down railyard. In the 1850s the Illinois Central Railroad established an 83-acre railyard just east of Michigan Avenue along the lakefront and the main branch of the Chicago River. By the 1920s the railroad realized that the land was too valuable to have it just sitting there moving around freight, when the company decided it was ripe for development. After a few fits and starts, things really got rolling in the mid 60s when hearings were held on the sale of air rights for the future Illinois Center. The project was envisioned to take 30 years to complete, and 40 years later there are still a few holes waiting to be filled, before the entire project reaches capacity. Joining a cluster of Mies van der Rohe's meticulously detailed high-rise towers within the Center's original boundaries, Aqua's undulating facade has introduced a new-wave architectural vocabulary into the muiti-acre development.