Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fisher Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Fisher Building (1896) Charles Atwood, D.H. Burnham & Co. architects; (1907) addition, Peter J. Weber, architect; (2001) restoration and adaptive reuse, Pappageorge Haymes, supervising architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Daniel Burnham & Co.'s Fisher Building does something that no other Burnham project    does - it has some fun with the owner's name. With a facade that includes molded terra-cotta salamanders, crabs, and other aquatic related animals, it's hard to imagine the serious, lets-get-down-to business Daniel Hudson Burnham choosing to make such a tongue-in-cheek reference to owner Lucius G. Fisher's last name. Perhaps it was the work of Burnham's right-hand-man and lead designer at the time Charles Atwood - with the boss's approval of course. Atwood's personality was a little more, shall we say, less restrained than his more sober appearing boss, but whoever made the choice, the Fisher Building included fish.

  [Fisher Building, 343 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The building also referenced the Gothic age of ecclesiastical architecture. With a few foils here and some fish bladder tracery there, the ever effective slim-lined vertical banding that made Gothic architecture soar, helped to visually push the Fisher up and into Chicago's 19th century sky. Almost too high up for some people.

[Fisher Building, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When paper bag manufacturer and multi-millionaire Lucius Fisher came to the Burnham firm and asked them to design a building for him, his property, located on South Dearborn Street at the northeast corner of Van Buren, was emerging as the hot new spot in an ever expanding downtown business district. Problem was that after architect William Le Baron Jenney's sky-popping 16-story Manhattan Building rose-up just a block south of Fisher's corner, the city, and some architects, began to worry that tall building might reach to far into the sky. Architects including Burnham, William Holabird, and Dankmar Adler testified before a City Council committee considering just how tall a building should go, and on March 9, 1893 the full Council voted 37 to 3 in support of an ordinance limiting the height of a building to 10-stories, or 130 feet. On March 13th, Lucius Fisher was given an exemption, and was allowed to build to the height of 236 feet and 18-stories because he had applied for, and had been given, a building permit prior to the vote.

    [Fisher Building, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the time Mr. Fisher acquired the 50 foot lot north of his building and was ready to    expand, both Burnham and Atwood were dead and architect Peter Weber, a former Burnham employee, was given the commission. The addition was even taller than the original building, towering 260 feet above ground level. In 1902 the Chicago City Council had revised their former height limit from 130 to 260 feet after realizing that the limit was not good for business, and therefore not good for the the city. Like many great office buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the turn of the 21st century, the Fisher was old, outdated, and do for a makeover. In 1999 the building underwent a conversion from office space to residential space overseen by architects Pappageorge & Haymes. The original entryways were restored, and over 6,000 pieces of terra-cotta were replaced with exact reproductions.
Manhattan Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Manhattan Building (1891) William Le Baron Jenney, architect; (1982) Wilbert Hasbrouck, restoration and adaptive reuse architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The modern skyscraper was born in Chicago. And the innovative, boundary-pushing architect who is credited with fathering this miraculous occurrence is William Le Baron Jenney. His Home Insurance Building gave birth to the notion that technological advances in steel, glass and elevator manufacturing could make for taller buildings, and therefore generate more income for the owner of a relatively small piece of land. The building's 47-year-old, technologically innovative skeletal frame disappeared from its La Salle Street corner in 1931, but, luckily, a few of Jenny's pushing-the-limits buildings have made it into the 21st century, and the Manhattan on South Dearborn Street is one of them.

  [Manhattan Building, 431 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

C.C. Heisen was a rich man, and made his fortune in coal. He invested his money in, among other things, Chicago real estate. In the late 1880s he set his sights on a stretch of land located on south Dearborn street just outside the boundaries of the city's central business district, because the land was cheap and he saw a future in the forlorn warehouse district servicing the nearby railroad industry. Downtown Chicago was bursting at the seams and Heisen was willing to bet that the boundary-busting office district would eventually push southward, and he was going to be ready for it when it happened. He wasn't the only one, other investors were eyeing the area and Heisen wanted in on the action. He began assembling a group of city lots by buying them outright or negotiating long term - like 99-year long - ground rents, and hired Jenney to build on his assembled property, in between two existing buildings.

  [Manhattan Building, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Constructing a new building in between two standing structures happened all the time. The new building was simply be wedged in between the other two, sometimes sharing one half of the existing foundations or walls of the other two, or by just butting-up one building against the other. This building smash-up created party walls - walls that shared a building's load with one another, or sat independent of one another with barely a breath of air between them. Jenney's problem was that he and Heisen wanted to build taller than the neighboring 8 story buildings - much taller - which meant a lot of added weight and load. Heisen could have made deals with the adjoining property owners to increase the sizes of their foundations and parti-walled with them, but that would have meant digging into their basements, shoring up their walls, and disrupting existing businesses. The building to the north housed a number of printing operations and provided steam to the printing presses from large boilers in the basement. To build the Heisen/Jenney high-rise would require moving the boilers while reworking the basement and foundation. It was way too messy - and expensive.

  [Manhattan Building, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Always thinking outside the box, Jenney solved the problem by doing something no one had ever done before - he would "float" his building's party walls next to the existing ones by bringing all that additional weight and tonnage inside the new building. How? The architect placed steel columns 15-feet away from the north and south walls of the two standing structures, cantilevered steel beams out from the interior columns to the neighboring walls, and essentially "floated" the weight of the 9-floor portion of the building, avoiding the neighbors altogether. Then he built taller using the same row of columns set 15-feet from the edges of the property, up to a height of 16 stories, which created a new set of problems - wind stress. Having nothing to do with Chicago's reputation as the Windy City, any building built above a certain height encounters stress brought on by upper air flow. Jenney had to devise a plan to deal with wind in this new-fangled tall building construction and came-up with the first ever steel skeletal frame that incorporated wind bracing. When Heisen's building opened for business in 1891, Jenney had given his client the right to brag that he was now the proud owner of the tallest building in the world.
By the late 1970s the Manhattan had outlived its usefulness as an office tower. Fortunately, rather than being torn down and turning Heisen's land assembly into an asphalt surfaced parking lot, the building was restored and converted into apartments under the supervision of Chicago architect Wilbert Hasbrouck.
810-812 N. Dearborn Street Row Houses
 by: chicago designslinger

[810-812 N. Dearborn Street Row Houses (ca. 1875) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It wasn't long after the Chicago Fire had finally burned itself out in the early morning hours of October 10, 1871 that rebuilding in the devastated city got underway. At first there were the temporary wood-framed buildings, put-up in an effort to show that the city was already back in business, but within months brick and stone structures began popping-up all over the burnt district. Nearly the entire north side of the city had disappeared in the fire storm, and by 1873 new row houses were lining the ash strewn streets. The pair of houses at 810-812 N. Dearborn Street (once 226-228 Dearborn Avenue) were typical of the post-fire period, with their Italianate/Victorian-era decorative touches, tall first floor windows, and narrow 25 foot widths. What made them stand-out from many of their nearby neighbors were their height. The "English" basement didn't sit as far below grade as in most townhouse blocks, which pushed the first floor further above the sidewalk and gave the conjoined structures a bit more substance.

   [810-812 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

If you're standing at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Dearborn Street today it may be hard to believe that this was once one of the city's poshest residential intersections. This was a neighborhood lined with Blue Book addresses, and the row houses were located just down the block from one of Chicago's elite men's social clubs, The Union. The all male gathering spot roster included such names as Lincoln, McCormick, Field, Armour and De Koven. John De Koven's single family home built in 1873, stood a few blocks north on Dearborn. While Henry De Wolf, treasurer of the Illinois Central Railroad, could stroll up Dearborn from his row house at No. 226 (810 today) and join his fellow movers and shakers at the Union for dinner, a cigar, brandy, and a game of cards. When De Wolf died in 1893, his widowed mother, sister Mrs. Arthur Erksine, and a niece survived him and lived in the house until the early 1900s.

  [810-812 N. Dearborn Street, Washington Square Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As the 19th century turned into the 20th, the neighborhood around Dearborn and Chicago began to change. The march of time and the growth of the city pushed the chic part of the north side further north. By 1906 the former De Wolf residence at No. 226 was no longer worthy of a Blue Book listing, but next-door-neighbor No. 228 was. Dr. & Mrs. Antonio Lagorio occupied the tall townhouse - now numbered 812 - where the doctor lived with his family upstairs, and practiced medicine as the head of the Chicago Pasteur Institute downstairs. Lagorio's father had come to the city from Genoa, Italy in the 1830s and the immigrant's son had graduated from Rush Medical College in 1879, becoming the first Italian-American doctor to practice in Chicago. Lagorio then went overseas to study under the French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur. In 1890, Lagorio returned to Chicago and opened the second Pasteur Institute in the United States in his hometown. He moved his practice from Randolph Street and into this near north side townhouse, treating patients from as far away as Ohio, Kansas and Minnesota with Pasteur's life saving vaccine for rabies, while also cultivating the serum for treating tuberculosis. Lagorio lived and practiced in his Dearborn Street row house until his death in 1944.
The mid-century saw even more changes for the pair of houses. By 1950, 810 Dearborn had been divided into 29 sleeping rooms, and 812 was divvied-up into multiple apartments. Then in 1986, the Alliance Française de Chicago moved into 810, tore out the old rooming house partitions, and converted the row house into offices and a library under the supervision of architects from the L’École Boulle in Paris. 812 joined the rehab momentum and has been spruced-up, providing office space for a group of attorneys.
The Great Chicago Fire
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago Fire Department Training Academy (1960) Loebl Schlossman & Bennett, architects; Pillar of Fire (1961) Egon Weiner, artist; 558 W. De Koven Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

There's a children's song, with a repetitive chorus, which goes something like this:

Five nights ago, when the old folks were in bed,
Old Maid Leary left a lantern in her shed,
And when her cow kicked over
She winked her eye and said,
"There'll be a hot time,
in the old town,
                            FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

Four nights ago....

And so it repeats, over and over, until there is only one night left. And poor Catherine O'Leary. She will be forever linked to a cow, a kerosene lamp, a children's ditty, and one of the greatest urban conflagrations in human history.

[John Patrick O'Leary House (1901) Zachary Taylor Davis, architect; 726 W. Garfield Boulevard, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The fire left a four mile long by one mile wide swath of destruction in its wake. The entire business district laid in ruins, as did nearly the entire north side residential district. Approximately $230 million worth of property went up in flames, and around 100,000 people - in a city of 330,000 - were left homeless. The county coroner said the fire killed in the neighborhood of 330 people, but today, after much research, the estimate is much higher. The fire started in a building at the back of the O'Leary's De Koven Street property on the night of October 8th. Shockingly, the house at the front of the lot survived the fire intact without so much as a scorch on its wood siding, and is where, in 1960, the Chicago Fire Department built their training academy. A group of newspaper reporters made-up the entire story of Mrs. O'Leary and her cow. The Irish were an easy target, along with African Americans, who were seen as the primary source of all the city's ills. By the time the myth-making newsmen fessed-up to their big lie decades later, the damage was done. And the unfortunate scapegoat was hounded by the press each and every year on the anniversary of the fire, right up until her death in 1895. Her son James Patrick O'Leary, went on to become one of the city's more notorious and financially successful citizens, building a large mansion for he and his family not far from his mother's South Halsted Street address. The slowly decaying brownstone facade of the Garfield Boulevard manse still bears his JOL insignia - inscribed on the house's front porch.

   [Chicago Relief & Aid Society Cottage (1871) 348 W. Menomonee Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Rebuilding began immediately. The Chicago Relief & Aid Society raised an astonishing $5 million within weeks after the fire had finally burned itself out, and undertook a campaign to build temporary housing for the city's homeless working class residents. Little rectangular relief cottages began sprouting-up in clusters just outside the burnt district. They were small enough and light weight enough to be mass produced in a nearby lumber yard, put on flat bed wagon for delivery, and plunked down on a piece of vacant and unburnt land. They were tiny, but provided shelter from the approaching winter weather. A rare survivor now faces an alley in the Old Town neighborhood, expanded just a bit by a small lean-to enclosed porch, but the proportions of the original 141-year-old "temporary" house are still evident.

   [Church of Our Saviour (1888) Clinton J. Warren, architect; 530 W. Fullerton Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The fire finally burned itself out around four o'clock in the morning on October 10th, 1871 when a light rain began to fall. The wall of flames, sometimes reaching 10 stories in height and a length of 2 city blocks, had also pretty much run out of fuel by the time it reached Fullerton Parkway, near what is now the alley behind architect Clinton J. Warren's Church of Our Saviour. Fullerton was the official northern boundary line of the relatively young city and remote. There weren't very many structures standing around in this part of town to help feed the fire - wood or otherwise. The flames actually died-out in the Town of Lake View, which sat on the north side of the street, so the Great Chicago Fire didn't technically end within the city's corporate limits.

  [Washington Block (1873) Frederick & Edward Baumann, architects; 40 N. Wells Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The major focus of rebuilding centered on the destroyed business district, without which the city would never recover. No one wasted any time in the reconstruction effort. An article in the Chicago Tribune published on October 14, 1871, just days after the disaster, led with the dramatic headline, "The Phantom City - Chicago Rising Again!" reporting that, "Hempstead & Armour will erect their three stores on River Street, just as soon as the bricks cool." Much has been made in the architectural annuls of history about the groundbreaking buildings constructed in downtown Chicago as a result of the fire. And although the city became world famous for its innovative and much copied "Chicago construction" style, Frederick Baumann's Washington Block was much more typical of post-fire building construction than say Adler & Sullivan's Auditorium Building, Burnham & Root's Reliance Building, or Holabird & Roche's Marquette.  And although not nearly as well known as Burnham, Root, Holabird, Roche, Adler, or Sullivan, Baumann was an early innovator. The Washington Block sat on a foundation that the engineering architect had devised which spread the load of the building's weight out and over Chicago's swampy based soil. It was a spark that helped start Chicago's rise to skyscraper prominence, and eventually draw the world's attention to the architecturally inspirational city. The Block is a rare surviving example of what downtown Chicago would have looked like in the years right after the fire, before buildings like these were considered outdated in just a decade, and were torn down to make room for the Burnhams, Roots, Adlers, Sullivans, Holabirds and Roches of the world.
Chicago Board of Trade Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago Board of Trade Building (1930) Holabird & Root, architects; Alvin Meyer, sculptor; Ceres (1930) John H. Storr, artist (2004 - 2007) restoration, McClier Corporation, AECOM, Gunny Harboe - Harboe Architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Ceres was the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain, fertility and motherly relationships. The Romans credited her with giving agriculture to mankind, getting us off a diet of acorns and into a regimine of devouring the much tastier, carbo enhancing, wheat-based products that we know and love today. Who better then to crown the top of Holabird & Root's consummate Art Deco temple, designed for the world's largest agricultural price futures predictors.

  [Chicago Board of Trade Building, 141 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Founded in 1848, the members of the Chicago Board of Trade moved around the city a lot before landing at the foot of La Salle Street in 1885. Their original building designed by architect W.W. Boyington - the man who brought Chicago the old Water Tower - was the tallest building in the city at the time. A feat accomplished once again by Holabird & Root's building in 1930. Boyington's tower once loomed over La Salle Street in much the same way that today's structure acts as a kind of exclamation point at the end of the street's architecturally significant sentence. But it wasn't always like this. Back in the 1830s when Chicago was first laid-out, La Salle ended a few blocks north of here at Madison Street for a number of years. The street slowly crept southward, cutting through the long blocks that ran east and west between Clark and Wells Streets, until finally hitting Jackson Street in the early 1850s. The Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, which had just received their charter from the government, ran a passenger spur line up to Jackson, and with the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad, built the La Salle Street Passenger Depot at the southern edge of the newly extended avenue.

  [Chicago Board of Trade Building, National Historic Landmark, Chicago / Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

After surveying the damaged ruins left behind in the wake of the fire in 1871, the railroad built their new passenger station a block further south at Van Buren Street, closer to their large freight yard. The rail company then opened a narrow pathway south of Jackson, extending La Salle one more block and right up to the grand entryway of their new train station. When the members of the trading board needed more space and were looking to move once again in the early 1880s, they wanted to stick close to their existing home at La Salle and Washington Streets. The building committee set their sights on the railroad property, now in the hands of Colonel W.L. Scott. There was a problem however. The railroad had cut the La Salle Street lane in between two existing streets - Pacific Avenue to the east, and Sherman Place to the west. The La Salle slice left two very narrow bands of land between Pacific and Sherman, which didn't leave much room for building. So the committee put forward a plan to buy the Scott owned land if the city would vacate the La Salle extension, and create a buildable lot. The city agreed, Boyington's building opened for business in 1885, and the Chicago Board of Trade, in one form or another, has sat prominently at the foot of La Salle ever since.

  [Chicago Board of Trade Building, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Thirty-five years after Boyington's building peaked the city's interest, the Board of Trade needed another new trading space. Preliminary plans were drawn-up by architects Holabird & Roche - a rather sedate structure, 20-stories tall with a 5-story colonnade running across the Jackson Street facade and a uniform series of window bays filling-out the remaining upper floors. But by the time things got rolling in 1927, founding partner William Holabird was dead, and Martin Roche would follow soon in 1928. The firm's reins were taken up by John Holabird and John Root, Jr., and the older generation's monument to neoclassicism gave way to the modern, contemporary lines of Art Deco. The five-story windows that looked-out over La Salle just above the second floor framed the vast floor of the trading room, while sculptor Alvin Meyer's stylized limestone figures provided the exterior with decorative drama, capped by John Storr's Deco inspired vision of the Roman goddess. And the first floor lobby/atrium didn't disappoint with its eye-popping fantasy of shimmering marble and metal. The building was well maintained through the ensuing decades, but a few unfortunate interior "upgrades" and "modernizations" were undertaken in the 1950s and 60s. In 2004, the property was restored to its original magnificent streamlined classcism under the supervision of Chicago architect Gunny Harboe.
Insurance Exchange Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Insurance Exchange Building, Chicago (1912) D.H. Burnham & Co., architects (1928) Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1909 real estate promoter/businessman Napoleon Picard hit upon his latest money making scheme. It was time for Chicago's expanding, cash generating and scattered-around-town insurance company businesses to come together in a new, modern office structure. He made an appointment to see his friend architect Ernest Graham, head honcho at the offices of D.H. Burnham & Co, with a proposal.

  [Insurance Exchange Building, 175 W. Jackson Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Burnham & Root had designed an Insurance Exchange building over a decade earlier, across the street from the firm's famous Rookery Building. But the Exchange building had outgrown its usefulness, and the booming insurance industry had outgrown the building. Picard figured he could get a number of firms leasing space inside the old Exchange to move into a new structure, and convince even more insurance related businesses clustered around the Jackson/La Salle/Wells Street section of the Loop to join the march over to a sparkling new Insurance Exchange. The only problem was that Picard needed financing for his grand plan. Graham saw an opportunity and called on his friend and fellow opera devotee, powerhouse Chicago attorney Max Pam. The wily lawyer served as the lead legal counsel in the creation of the U.S. Steel Corporation, and then worked alongside J.P. Morgan in combining the Deering and McCormick interests into the corporate giant, International Harvestor. This time around, and on a significantly smaller scale, the lawyer formed the Insurance Exchange Building Corporation, made he and Graham the majority stock owners, named Graham chairman and president, sold bonds to finance construction, gave Picard a few shares of the stock, and made him the leasing agent and building manager.

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

The corporation, and their agent, secured a piece of land between Sherman Place and Wells Street that extended a half a block south of its Jackson Street frontage. The new building followed the highly developed and successful program that were the hallmarks of the Burnham firm. Glazed terra-cotta molded into shapes and sizes recalling the glory days of the architecture of Greece and Rome, all wrapped around an interior lightwell supplying offices with lots of light and air. Picard filled-up the 520,000 square feet of rentable space in no time. The partners realized that they were sitting on a goldmine, and talks of expansion were underway soon after the building opened in 1912 . The only problem was that the property located on the southern half the block was owned by the University of Chicago, and they weren't interested in selling. Then, finally, after years of negotiations, a 99-year ground lease was signed. By the time the addition - designed by the Burnham successor firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White in a seamless match up - was finished in 1928, Max Pam was dead and Graham now had a group of partners in the venture. Pam left his shares of the Insurance Exchange Corporation and the addition's Underwriters Corporation, in trust, to his brother and sisters. And although money continued to roll-in, the Depression, and dropping rental rates around the city began to take a toll, and vacancies increased.

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

Then in 1936 Ernest Graham died and left his half share in the two corporations to a trust he'd set-up in the hopes of using the monies generated by the Graham Trust to establish an art and architecture school in the city. A nearly crushing blow occurred in 1939 when a group of tenants made it known that they were unhappy with the inequitable rental rates in the Exchange. Many of the 1912 renters had signed 30 year leases at the going rate of anywhere from $1.25 to $1.35 per square foot. Tenants in the addition, or new to the older building, were under lease rates in the neighborhood of $3.00 or more per square foot - the highest in the area. The addition had made the Exchange Chicago's largest office building with 1.2 million square feet of leasable space, which was expensive to maintain. So to keep the place afloat, rates were increased for newer tenants in an effort to cover expenses. Once again Napoleon Picard entered the picture - this time however as a rival. He offered office space to insurance minded firms in a brand new building at $1.75 to $2.00 a square foot. Even Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, which had no financial or any other interest in the Graham Trust, offered to design a new building for the disgruntled renters. The Insurance Exchange managers were finally able to workout a deal with existing tenants by raising below market rates and lowering above market rents, keeping the building in the black - barely. Eventually the Pam family wanted out, and the Graham Foundation became the sole owner. The income helped the struggling enterprise survive, and in 1967 the Foundation sold their mammoth structure for $19.2 million.
Richard J. Daley Center
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Richard J. Daley Center (1965) Jacques Brownson, C.F. Murphy & Associates, architects; Loebl Schlossman & Bennett,  Skidmore Ownigs & Merrill, associate architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The size of government seems to become a particularly contentious issue every time there is an election, especially around the presidential kind. Whatever your politics, every now and again something commendable can result in the expansion of government - like an interesting piece of art and architecture surrounded by a nice bit of open space.

 [Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Richard J. Daley Center grew out of a need - by two different branches of local government - for more space. Soon after the City of Chicago and the County of Cook moved into their conjoined County/City Hall Building in 1908 and 1911, they were running out of room. So after years of renting, the two governing bodies began looking for a plot of land to build on, and in the late 1950s set their sights on an entire city block, located - very conveniently - directly across Clark Street from the County Building side of things.

 [Richard J. Daley Civic Center, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The problem was that the site was occupied by several buildings with several different owners. Chicago's mayor at the time, Richard J. Daley, saw no problem at all - the city and county would offer the owners fair market value and if they didn't accept, he'd simply take the land through eminent domain. Daley was the powerful chairman of the Cook County Central Committee, and, it just so happened, the chairman of the recently created Public Building Commission, authorized by an act of the state legislature to oversee the construction and maintenance of publicly funded projects in Chicago and Cook County. Prior to this action, any local government building project had to go before voters in a yes or no referendum on the issuance of public bonds for these kinds of enterprises, but with passage of the legislative bill, authorization to issue these bonds now rested solely with the Building Commission - which in reality meant the Mayor.

[Sculpture, Daley Plaza, Pablo Picasso, artist Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The block was deemed "blighted," and some of the old buildings had a long history with the city, and lots of people were very emotionally attached to a few of the unkempt landmarks. The most famous of the group was a three building complex along the Randolph Street side of the property owned by Henrici's Restaurant. Philip Henrici opened his first food emporium in 1868, and had been serving-up sides of beef and baked goods on Randolph Street since the 1890s. Thousands of people showed up in August of 1962 for their last meal in the Viennese inspired dining room. June Havoc, Gypsy Rose Lee's sister and the real live "Dainty Baby June" from the musical Gypsy, was one of the last diners to come by and say farewell. She recalled one of many visits to Henrici's when as a six-years-old, she, her mother, and her sister Louise all came to the restaurant to celebrate a three year contract her mother had just signed with the Keith vaudeville circuit. Soon after her visit the Henrici's marquee came down along with the building, and the 32-story, $87 million, 648-foot-tall, Chicago Civic Center building began to rise.

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

Architect Jacques Brownson led the design team at one Chicago's prominent architectural firms C.F. Murphy & Associates. The building paid homage to Brownson's mentor and former teacher Mies van der Rohe, but the Civic Center tower pushed steel framing and skyscraper construction to new limits. Steel beams, over 80 feet long, the largest ever produced, spanned the openings between the structure's vertical columns. Brownson also moved the building to the site's northern edge allowing for a wide open plaza, hoping to create Chicago's version of Venice's Saint Mark's Square, or Athens ancient agora. Brownson wanted the Civic Center Plaza to be filled with people either marketing or protesting -a gathering place in the heart of the city. But like with many  good architecturally designed intentions owners have other ideas, and soon flagpoles were added, an area was set aside for fountain, and more space was given over to a large outdoor sculpture. And when Picasso's unnamed statue was unveiled in 1967, the response ran from critical acclaim to public hatred. But Mayor Daley loved it, and Picasso gave his facially formed piece of art as a gift to the city. After Daley's death, and his 21-year-tenure as mayor and chairman, the Civic Center he had brought to fruition was renamed in his honor, for Hiz Honor.
Chicago City Hall & Cook County Building
  by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago City Hall & Cook County Building (1908-1911) Holabird & Roche, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

If you didn't know better, the monumental colonnaded building that sits heavily placed on the city block bounded by Clark, Randolph, La Salle and Washington Streets in the heart of Chicago's Loop district, looks like one huge office building. And it is. The structure houses the workings of local city and county government - but in reality it's two totally separate spaces that just look like one.

  [County Building, 118 N. Clark Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The block is sliced from north to south, between Clark and La Salle, dividing the property into two equal halves. Cook County has held title to the square block since 1830 when the first map was commissioned by the Canal Commissioners, planting a grid on a gird-less landscape. Near the center of town was Block No. 39, which was turned over to the County of Cook by the federal officers of the Illinois & Michigan Canal for use as public property in perpetuity. By 1845, a two-story brick building with a meeting hall on the first floor and offices on the second stood at the northeast corner of the square, which was soon found lacking - the county needed more space.

  [Chicago City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

City government on the other hand wasn't deeded any free land by the feds, so in 1837 the newly incorporated City of Chicago rented space in the Saloon Building at the corner of Lake & Clark Streets - to meet with, and greet, its citizens. After one more move to rented quarters at La Salle & Randolph, in 1848, a 40-foot-wide, purpose-built building running right down the middle of State Street between Randolph and Lake Streets, was constructed. Dubbed Market Hall, the 2-story structure, designed by the city's first official architect John Van Osdel, had market stalls on the ground floor, with a large meeting hall and offices on the second. Just four years later, as the size of city government grew in proportion to the exploding overall growth of the city, Market Hall was bursting at the seams, and another move was in the works.

  [City Hall - County Building, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It just so happened that at the time, the county had outgrown their corner building as well. Plans were being made to build a multi-storied building smack in the middle of their block, which would give the county a proper courthouse building set in a landscaped town square. The city saw an opportunity. The county owed the city $30,000, and in lieu of the debt proposed joining the county in one-half of their new building. The county board agreed to the terms, deeded the western half of the block to the city, and built their first city hall/county-combo building. Van Osdel was called upon once again to design a governmental structure, this time a 2-story, domed, cupola centric affair which opened to the public in 1853, and he continued working on the building, with one addition after another, until the fire in 1871. Burned-out of their offices, the city relocated temporarily to the Madison Avenue Police Station and then moved into a 2-story brick building constructed around an old water tank called the Rookery, in 1873. The County Board immediately began developing plans to rebuild on their old site, and asked the city to rejoin them, but no one could have foreseen that it would take the next 12 years to get the dual-purpose serving structure completed. The new building was a disaster from the start, and by the time both branches of government finally moved in to their new home in 1885, it was already deemed to small and out-of-date. In January 1905, after settling nearly a foot, the clunky pile of overwrought Victorian goo-gaas severed a gas pipe, caused an explosion and fire, and plans were made to start anew - once again.

  [Labor on Land, County Building, Hermon MacNeil, artist /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

A design competition was held, and the members of the building committee awarded first prize to an exterior design submitted by New York architects Shepley Rutan & Coolidge, second prize for an interior plan by local architects Holabird & Roche, and third place to still another plan laid-out by still another firm. The committee set a date for a meeting when all three winners would come before the members and pitch plans based on the choices made by the indecisive group. Prior to pitch day, Holabird & Roche set-up meetings with various county department heads to find out what their needs were, so when it came time to sell their scheme to the committee they were well prepared. The county awarded the contract to the firm, but the city balked. Construction went forward on the county side of the block, while the city sat on their hands in the old building. Then after the county's half was completed in 1908, the city began their side of the architect's seamless looking structure, and city employees were at work in the new complex by the spring of 1912. By 1920 the county was already looking to lease additional space since they'd outgrown their Clark Street side of the structure, and the city was on the hunt for leasable space outside of their La Salle Street headquarters soon thereafter.
Wabash Building - Roosevelt University
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Wabash Building - Roosevelt University (2012) Christopher Groesbeck, VOA Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 2004 the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that beefed-up the city's fire codes which required most buildings built before 1975 to meet more stringent safety standards. Roosevelt University's 1970s-era Herman Crown Center didn't make the cut, and the school decided that rather than investing millions of dollars in upgrades on a building already showing its age, money would be better spent starting from scratch and building anew.

  [Wabash Building - Roosevelt University, 425 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architects Mittelbusher & Tourtelot's Crown building had been constructed by the university in 1970. The 19-story poured concrete structure replaced the Giles/Purington Building, one of the city's longest standing commercial structures up until that time. Built in 1875, the Purington bore all the hallmarks of the then popular Second Empire style with its two-story Mansard attic roof and bracketed cornice. The university purchased the Giles Building in 1956, just 10 years after their move into the historic Auditorium Building which sat smack-up against the Giles's southern wall.

  [Wabash Building - Roosevelt University /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Roosevelt College had been organized in 1945 by a group of faculty members who were unhappy with the seemingly racial/ethnic profiling being undertaken by the trustees of the city's Central Y.M.C.A College. So they formed Roosevelt as an alternative option for the Y's primarily low-to-middle-income, Chicago-commuter-based student population. The Central Y was conveniently located in the city's Loop central business district and easily accessed by the city's vast public transportation network. Roosevelt's founders made a commitment to remain downtown and purchased an 11-story building at Wells and Qunicy Streets not far the Y's location. In 1946, the trustees set their sights on the aging Auditorium Building, and began negotiations to purchase the massive structure which had fallen on hard times.

  [Wabash Avenue Building - Fine Arts Annex Facade /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Herman Crown Center was the first major expansion program that the school had undertaken since completing the purchase of the Auditorium in 1947. The Giles building came down, and Crown Center went-up. When the decision was made to tear down Crown Center and build a new vertical campus on the site in 2007, the school purchased another wall-adjoining building, the Fine Arts Annex, to increase the new structure's lot size. Crown sat on a relatively small piece of downtown property measuring only 80 feet on Wabash Avenue and extending 171 feet back to the alley. The extra square footage gained in taking over the Annex's plot of ground would allow architects VOA Associates and their lead designer Christopher Groesbeck, to push all the mechanical systems of the new 32-story tower to the north side of the building, and on to the Annex's 26 X 171 foot lot.

[Fine Arts Annex Building (1924) Andrew N. Rebori, Rebori, Wentowrth, Dewey & McCormick, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architect Andrew Rebori's 1924-era building had once held the boiler plant of the Fine Arts Building, which stood across the alley on Michigan Avenue. No longer servicing the Arts building, the university tore down the almost the entire structure - save the front facade - and propped it up with a supporting steel frame. Preserved and refurbishing its original Art Deco features Groesbeck created an entrance to the new building and the school's new bookstore. The diagonally slicing tower, which the architect said was inspired by Constantin Brancusi's sculpture Endless Column, houses not only students on its upper 16 floors, but provides space for additional classrooms, labs, and a student activities. The school now gets to claim that it has the second tallest university structure in the U.S. - and the sixth tallest in the world.  
Modern Wing - Art Institute of Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Modern Wing - Art Institute of Chicago (2009) Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects, InterActive Design, associate architects /Image & Artwork: designslinger]

On May 16, 2009 the Art Institute of Chicago opened their new Modern Wing to the public. The 264,000 square foot extension pushed the facility into the number two slot of largest museums in the U.S. and garnered the museum and its architect Renzo Piano much critical acclaim. Covered by Piano's self-described "floating carpet, umbrella" roof, the addition was the largest expansion the museum had ever undertaken in its 130 year structure-stretching history.

  [Modern Wing - Art Institute of Chicago, East Monroe Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The museum began growing in and around its original Michigan Avenue-facing building soon after the Beaux-Arts edifice was ready for occupancy. The classical temple-like structure had been designed to first serve as a temporary lecture hall for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. When the Fair was over, the museum folks immediately made a few alterations to the u-shaped building, and continued on an expansion program that increased the amount of gallery space.

  [Modern Wing - Art Institute of Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When the museum opened for business in 1893, the rear, east-face of the museum building butted-up against a strip of land owned by the Illinois Central Railroad lined with steel train track. As the Lake-Front Park morphed into today's Grant Park, the city dumped tons of debris and dirt into Lake Michigan out past the eastern edge of the rail road line. By 1915 mounds of dirt were piled high far beyond the IC tracks, and the trustees saw opportunity in that bumpy terrain. So in 1916 they undertook one of their more audacious expansion adventures when they gave the okay to build a long, narrow gallery bridging the below grade Illinois Central rail road tracks. This decision connected the museum to a large piece of newly created landfill and the potential for even more future building programs. The in 1923 under the direction of the Institute's 40-year-term president Charles L. Hutchinson, the museum made their first foray onto the now leveled fill area and began construction on Hutchinson Hall and the outdoor garden of McKinlock Court.

  [Modern Wing - Art Institute of Chicago, Griffin Court /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The exterior limestone facade of the Gunsaulus Hall bridge copied the design of the Beaux-Arts temple arch for columned arch. The expansions on the east side of the tracks however stayed low to the ground, and never climbed beyond one-story, hidden behind a large granite wall. However, the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Memorial Theater on the far northeast corner of the property at Monroe Street and Columbus Drive, broke the wall plane with a very restrained, two-story entryway which lead theater goers to a long stairway down to a subterranean performance space. In 1976 architect Walter Netsch's Rubloff Building for the School of the Art Institute made a very prominent late-20th-century architectural statement along the complex's eastern border on Columbus Drive. And in a nod to the past, Netsch covered the solid surfaces of his contemporary facade with the same Indiana limestone that had been used to clad the original Michigan Avenue building six decades earlier. In 1999 James Wood, the museum's director at the time, announced plans to bridge the tracks once again with a 75,000 square foot addition. This was the seed that grew into Piano's Modern Wing.

  [Gallery, Modern Wing - Art Institute of Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

An new opportunity presented itself in 2000 when the Goodman Theater decided to leave their 75-year-old digs and move into a newly recreated entertainment district in Chicago's Loop area. Piano was brought in to come-up with some preliminary designs for the bridge spanning addition and any ideas he had for the vacated Goodman site. In a city famous for its "Make No Little Plans" reputation, the museum went for the gusto and announced their plans to build at the corner of Monroe and Columbus. The idea of bridging the tracks in some way was put on hold, and the original 290,000-square-foot structure was reduced down to 264,000-square-feet. The price increased as time went on, and the 75,000 square feet of gallery space shrunk to 64,000. And in a move similar to Netsch's nod to history, Piano used the same Indiana limestone covering Shelpey, Rutan & Coolidge's 1893 building, on his solid exterior surfaces.
Navy Pier
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Navy Pier (1916) Charles S. Frost, architect; (1976) City of Chicago, Jerome Butler, city architect; (1995) Benjamin Thompson & Associates, architects; VOA Associates, associate architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1905 Fred B. McLean was given permission to erect a 4,000-foot-long recreational pier at the foot of 31st Street on Chicago's south side. In 1906 the Commercial Club of Chicago hired Daniel Burnham to come up with a cohesive regional plan for Chicago and its lakefront. In 1907 James A. Pugh began working on plans for a multi-pier development extending 3,000 feet out into the lake from the foot of Illinois and Indiana Streets (now Grand Avenue) - just north of the mouth of the Chicago River. In July 1909, Burnham and cohort Edward Bennett's massive plan was revealed to the public, and in August of that year the Chicago Tribune published a series of illustrations depicting Mr. Pugh's plan for a three pier enterprise providing docking areas for cargo boats and passenger ferries, warehouse space and recreational activities. Mr. McLean - after several extensions - was given until September 6, 1911 to begin construction on his project, or his permits would be pulled.

  [Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

McLean's version of lakefront fun never even made it to the drawing table. Burnham's plan contained a stunning drawing illustrating the great city planner's idea of a water front harbor centered on Grant Park wrapped in two sweeping arcs of arms created by a pair of piers. The northern arm extended out from Chicago Avenue while the southern arm brought 22nd Street into the lake. Neither was ever built. Pugh's three piers didn't get built either, but one made the cut, although by the time it was built, James Pugh was no longer in the picture.

  [Navy Pier - Municipal Pier No. 2, Navy Pier Headhouse & Auditorium, City of Chicago Landmark/Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

James A. Pugh was interested in Chicago's burgeoning furniture manufacturing market, and its real estate. He came to the city in 1889, got involved in the construction of furniture warehouses and showrooms, and by 1905 saw opportunity at the eastern end of a 45-acre swath of land owned and operated by the Chicago Dock and Canal Company, which sat at the junction of the city's two main waterways - the mouth of the Chicago River and the lake. The site was also linked to the vast rail network of the Chicago & Northwestern and Illinois Central railroads by a series of spur lines connecting the Dock & Canal property to every nook and cranny of the nation. It was the perfect place to build a cargo shipping and warehouse operation, and since he was already involved in the furniture business, why not focus on the movement of goods and services related to the furniture industry. He wanted to build a large shipping and warehouse facility - with the Company's backing - that would bring in the raw materials used to make furniture and then ship the finished goods out around the country. He didn't stop there. The plan grew to provide enough additional space for showrooms and conventions. Then he added recreation to the scheme. One pier would be dedicated to public fun, providing city dwellers and visitors with Henry McLean's 1905 pier proposal - but a thousand feet shorter. Pugh had a set of illustrations drawn-up by his friend and business associate engineer Henry Ericsson, and then gave them to the Chicago Tribune to publish. James A. Pugh saw this as an economic gold mine.

  [Municipal Pier No. 2 /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The drawings that appeared on the Tribune's pages focused on the recreational portion of the development, showing a large auditorium for concerts, a grand esplanade, a massive convention hall, a bathing pavilion and a set of tracks running the entire length for street cars to move people from one end to the other. Pugh offered the city a franchise fee to be payable 20 years after the piers were opened for business, but the city wanted money upfront and more of it. Pugh went directly to the Feds and got the Army Department, who oversaw the maintenance of the nation's waterways, to give their okay, and got his federal permit. The city still wasn't having any of it. The State finally stepped in and said that although the Trust had been given permission by an act of the legislature to own any landfill created by a breakwater the Canal trust had erected along the lake front north of the river in 1858, the state still owned the land under the water beyond the land created by the legislative mandate. It was the government's trump card, and Pugh threw in the towel. However, the city still saw a municipal pier in that location as a stunningly brilliant idea.

  [Navy Pier /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The only problem was that the city needed access to the water site, and to get there, it had to purchase a narrow strip of land owned by the Trust for the tidy sum of $300,000. In 1914, the city began construction on the recreational portion of Pugh's triple-piered plan, which the city council dubbed Municipal Pier No. 2. And, architect Charles Frost must have found inspiration in Henry Ericcson's original illustrations since Frost's Head House, Terminal Building and Auditorium ended-up looking an awful lot like Ericcson's 1907 drawings. The Pier added the name Navy in 1928, in tribute to the men and women who had served in the First World War. The 2,000 foot tin-roofed sheds that dominated the mile long structure, housed warehouse goods, servicemen in World War II, and finally students attending the University of Illinois' Chicago campus from 1946 to 1965. After years of rusting away while the mortar, concrete and brick crumbled, the Auditorium was renovated in 1976, and in 1978, Mayor Michael Bilandic hosted the first ChicagoFest, a late-70s version of Lollapalooza. After the last Fest was held in 1982, the Pier sat idle until 1994, before being transformed into the recreational pier it is today, the State - and the City's - most popular public attraction.
Chicago Avenue Water Tower & Pumping Station
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago Avenue Water Tower & Pumping Station (1869) W.W. Boyington, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

There are landmark markers, landmark moments, landmark buildings, landmark structures and landmark monuments. In a city known for its epoch-defining architectural landmarks, one building stands out from the crowd because of where it sits, its ability to survive, its unusual design, and its physical manifestation of Chicago's "I Will" spirit.

  [Chicago Avenue Water Tower & Pumping Station, 806 & 811 N.Michigan Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Back in 1850, no one could have believed that something as utilitarian as a water tower and pumping station would become one of the city's most beloved and recognized landmarks. One-hundred-and-sixty-years ago, the citizens of the close-to-water-level city had a love/hate relationship with their lake and their river. Water made Chicago - and almost killed Chicago. Most likely Mother Nature hadn't intended on 300,000 human beings living on a ground area located just few feet above the shoreline of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, and then use those two bodies of water for transportation, sewage, and human consumption. Today it seems like a no-brainer.  But it took a devastating cholera outbreak in the early 1850s, culminating in the death of thousands of people, before government and business leaders decided it was time to take action.

  [Chicago Avenue Water Works Tower, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1851 the city council decided to create a water board, and design a public water system. The Chicago City Hydraulic Company began laying pipe and a Board of Sewerage Commissioners was formed. The river and lake shore were floating cesspools. The Commissioners had to figure out how to get rid of human and industrial waste, and provide a source of clean drinking water. So in an attempt to keep the lake water as clean as possible, the Commissioners decided to funnel human and industrial waste into the river and build a reservoir at the edge of Lake Street, providing "cleaner" lake water to the citizenry through an extensive delivery pipe system. The sewers wouldn't drain however because they were so close to grade, so they had to be elevated 8 to 10 feet above street level. Then to fill-in the gaps, sludge could be dredged from the river bed, making it deeper, and forcing the water flow away from the lake and down into the new Mississippi River connecting canal. It was a good theory.

  [Chicago Water Tower, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

But there were kinks in the works. Those who were connected to the pipes of the new reservoir system often found small minnows coming through the tap along with their cold water. The sewers removed effluence from streets, businesses and residences, but still dumped all the debris into the river, which in turn raised the river bed, which elevated the murky water, pushed it back into the lake again, and right into the nearby reservoir. Enter Ellis Chesbrough. He devised a system that would draw lake water from an intake crib located 2 miles from out beyond the messy, smelly shoreline, then deliver that far-out, fresh water into homes, businesses through massive hydraulic pumps housed in buildings constructed along the lake's edge. The simple frame and brick towered building of the North Side Chicago Avenue Water Works began pumping cool, fresh water to nearby consumers in the late 1850s. Just a few years later construction began on a new and improved water complex, and in 1867 a large public ceremony was held to lay a cornerstone into one of architect W.W. Boyington's crenelated castle-like structures.

  [Water Tower /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The original Water Works tower and pumping station had been located in one building. This time around the tower, whose 138-foot tall standpipe regulated water pressure, would stand separate from the pumping house, located 100 feet to the east. They were joined together by a park, and stood tall and proud where a street once called Pine came to an end. No one could have foreseen that just two years after the rough stone duo were completed in 1869, the entire surrounding area would be flattened and destroyed by a raging inferno. The fire, however, didn't level the water works buildings. And although they were left roofless, scarred and without many of their Joliet stone embellishments - they were still standing, and the tower became a symbol of survival and a future. As the city rose-up again around the survivors, and the historic, symbolic, and beloved Water Works complex began to stand in the way of progress. Pine Street was extended through the little park at the turn of the 20th century, and the decorative stone pair were forever separated. In 1913 city planners actually proposed tearing down the no-longer operational tower as plans were being formed to turn 66-foot-wide PineStreet/Lincoln Parkway into 141-foot-wide Michigan Boulevard. Mayor Carter Harrison put the kibosh on those arrangements and in turn called for the tower's restoration. Then in 1916 the planners, not ready to throw in the towel and with a new mayor in office, proposed going ahead and widening Michigan Avenue to 141 feet, and moving the old tower 100 feet to the west.
It wasn't until 1928 that Michigan Avenue grew to its current 85-foot-wide size between the Water Works buildings. The the old tower was saved, without being moved, but the new thoroughfare came within inches of the building's southwest corner. The two structures are now open to the public, and serve as a gallery, tourist information center, and theater performance space.