It’s been a while since we checked in on the new public courtyard going in at the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago (65 East Huron Street). As you can see, it looks like it’s just about done.
The public space is part of Saint James Commons, a complex that includes Saint James Cathedral, the diocesan offices, and a new welcome center. The project, designed by Loebl Schlossman & Hackl was mostly completed in late December, but one thing is still missing — the water feature.
The fountain running along the south side of the main plaza still hasn’t been turned on. But it’s still early in the season, so none of the public fountains in Chicago are on just yet.
Not that long ago, this space wasn’t earmarked to be a public plaza. It was going to be a giant skyscraper. 71 East Huron was supposed to be a 65-story skyscraper anchored by the Canyon Ranch Hotel, and topped with 40 stories of condominiums. That plan, however, never came to fruition.
If you go to see this oasis in the Near North Side, take the time to peek inside the cathedral, too. The 1875 structure is even more wonderful inside. Remember, Episcopals are the American cousins of the Anglicans, so it looks like a Harry Potter wonderland inside. I was there once to get my cat blessed, but there’s no reason to wait until the next pet blessing session. All summer there are free chamber music concerts inside the cathedral. Check out RushHour.org for more information.