Balthazar Korab Architecture Photography Now on Display in Chicago
Jul14

Balthazar Korab Architecture Photography Now on Display in Chicago

Stunning black and white photographs of 20th-century cityscapes comprise the new photography exhibit Inflected Modernism: The Architecture Photography of Balthazar Korab running now through the end of this week at the Cliff Dwellers Club high above Michigan Avenue. Korab (1926-2013) was one of the most prolific and celebrated photographers of architecture practicing during the second half of the last century. Chicago architect Trish...

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Long Neglected, a Chicago Art Deco Gem Inches Toward Rebirth
Mar19

Long Neglected, a Chicago Art Deco Gem Inches Toward Rebirth

In a city filled with Art Deco delight, this small skyscraper is an exceptional gem. Recently named a Chicago Landmark, the fifteen-story Chicago Motor Club Building (68 East Wacker Place) was designed in 1928 by Holabird & Root. It’s not a well-known building; it has been empty for a decade, and you can’t access its dazzling lobby. But for locals who remember it way back when, and those lucky enough to attend the rare open house...

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A Loop Hotel That’s More Than Just a Place to Hang Your Hat
Dec02

A Loop Hotel That’s More Than Just a Place to Hang Your Hat

Hotel Monaco Chicago (225 North Wabash Avenue), part of the Kimpton chain, is an award-winning boutique hotel with a phenomenal location and accompanying views.  The interior is colorfully pretty and cozily chic.  My recent visit and tour with the concierge made me want to return for an extended stay. While some Chicago hotels revel in their historic design and traditions, the Hotel Monaco—occupying a century-old building—feels...

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DePaul University’s New Theater School Takes A Bow
Sep15

DePaul University’s New Theater School Takes A Bow

The new DePaul University Theatre School Building (2350 North Racine Avenue), designed by Pelli Clark Pelli, celebrated its grand opening on Friday and I was privileged to be there for a private tour. The tour was led by the dean of the Theatre School, John Culbert, as well as members of the theater design firm that worked with Pelli, Schuler Shook. Toward the end of our tour, three members of the architectural team joined us. I...

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It’s Been An Eventful 177 Years For The Oldest* House In Chicago
Sep09

It’s Been An Eventful 177 Years For The Oldest* House In Chicago

From its earliest frontier days Chicago has been a beacon to those looking for opportunity. Merchant Henry B. Clarke was one of the early pioneers seeking his fortune in the town on the shores of Lake Michigan. And the history of Henry Clarke’s house (now at 1855 South Indiana Avenue) is intertwined with that of the burgeoning city. Clarke and his wife Caroline, along with three children and a servant, moved to Chicago from upstate...

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A Look at a Landmark Skyscraper’s Leading-Edge Past, and Luxurious Future
Jul20

A Look at a Landmark Skyscraper’s Leading-Edge Past, and Luxurious Future

With the recent opening of the Langham, Chicago hotel inside 330 North Wabash Avenue, there’s been a lot of focus on Mies van der Rohe’s 1971 skyscraper. Usually mentioned only briefly on architecture tours, this elegant structure doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. Perhaps because it is often overshadowed by the popular Marina City “corncobs,” and more recently by the assertive Trump Tower....

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The South Loop’s Revival Brings New Appreciation for Chicago’s Landmark Second Presbyterian Church
Jun13

The South Loop’s Revival Brings New Appreciation for Chicago’s Landmark Second Presbyterian Church

The late 19th-century Arts and Crafts movement that came out of England was widely embraced in the United States – especially in Chicago. And the South Loop has one of the largest and best preserved examples of the movement’s precepts: the interior of Second Presbyterian Church (1936 South Michigan Avenue). In March, 2013 Second Presbyterian became the only church in the city of Chicago to be designated a National Historic...

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Loved and Hated, Old and New, Chicago’s Main Library Still Exudes Controversy
May30

Loved and Hated, Old and New, Chicago’s Main Library Still Exudes Controversy

It’s a Chicago building that can’t escape notice. And once you notice it, you can’t help but react to it. The Harold Washington Library Center (400 South State Street) stands stalwart in the South Loop, once a decaying and sad part of the city, now the nexus of regeneration and vitality. Opened to the public in 1991, the design of Chicago’s central library building has always been more than a little...

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The Glessner House: How Forward-Thinking Homeowners Helped a Revolutionary Architect Make His Mark in Chicago
Apr22

The Glessner House: How Forward-Thinking Homeowners Helped a Revolutionary Architect Make His Mark in Chicago

“It looks like an old jail,” one lady commented. “It takes courage to build a house like that,” said another. “Which church is this?” a passerby inquired. “I don’t like it and wish it was not there,” complained neighbor George Pullman, who felt himself cursed by the daily sight of the John J. Glessner House (1800 South Prairie Avenue). Amidst the Gilded Age splendor that was...

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How Chicago’s Historic Fisher Building Got Its Fish, and Other Things That Make It Special
Mar12

How Chicago’s Historic Fisher Building Got Its Fish, and Other Things That Make It Special

Sited among an incomparable collection of surviving early Chicago skyscrapers, the Fisher Building (343 South Dearborn Street) doesn’t resemble any of its neighbors. Though technologically modern, its decorative scheme unabashedly hearkens back to the Gothic cathedrals of Europe. South Dearborn Street in the 1890′s was hot real estate. Until the 1880′s, the area was residential, but when Dearborn Station was built at...

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