Smoking Hot Model: Harold Washington and Friends

It’s been a while since we’ve done an installment of Smoking Hot Models, so here’s a bonus edition — with both winners and losers.

This time it’s the Harold Washington Library Center (400 South State Street).

In the southeast corner of the eighth floor of the library are the models of the losing entries into the contest to design this building.  They show that, for all the flack this building takes, it could have been much worse.

Most of the losers have the same component — integrating the CTA L tracks into the building.  So it’s interesting that the building that eventually got built lacks this feature.

Here’s a losing entry from Paschen – Tishman – Jahn:

Not the Harold Washington Library Center

“Library ’88 Partnership” (Stein & Company, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Legoretta Arquitectos, and Morse/Diesel) submitted this loser:

Not the Harold Washington Library Center

This failure came in from John Buck Company with Vickrey/Oversat/Awsumb Associates, Arthur Erickson Architects, and Turner Construction:

Not the Harold Washington Library Center

And finally there is this from Metropolitan-Lohan (Metropolitan Structures, Lohan Associates, Chris P. Stefanos Associates)

Metropolitan Lohan model of the Harold Washington Library Center

The model of the winning design we know today isn’t located with the losers.  It has a place of honor inside the Harold Washington Museum, which is also on the eighth floor of the library, in the northwest corner, very much hidden behind the escalators.

Harold Washington Library Center

It’s interesting to see that part of the winning plan included a public plaza across Congress Parkway from the library, where today there is a surface parking lot and the Library Tower (518 South State Street).  When the library was built, it replaced a small parking garage. During the demolition of that garage, someone left a car behind and it crushed under the piles of rubble.



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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