From tote bags to corporate logos to web sites, people love mashing all of Chicago’s architectural landmarks into one image of a fantasy skyline that couldn’t possibly exist. But wouldn’t it be great if a professional artist took a whack at it? And had a room-sized canvas to work with? And the backing of a big-name architecture firm?
That’s what you see above. It’s a mural called, appropriately enough, Chicago Architecture. It was painted in oil on linen by Richard Haas in 1983, and currently adorns the elevator lobby on the second floor of Chicago City Hall. On a panel beneath the mural, Mr. Haas describes his work:
This painting, executed for the architectural firm of FCL in 1983 was an effort to tell the architectural history of Chicago from tis birth to the date of the commission. I grew up in Southern Wisconsin and Milwaukee and I was therefore familiar with Chicago and its architecture from my early childhood. Many of the buildings depicted here were etched in my memory from that time. As I constantly visited Chicago, I saw the tremendous growth and change as the smaller towers of the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties simply became lost in the shadows of the monoliths of the late 20th century. I wanted to reset the stage of this architectural history in such a way that the new giants receded to the background and their smaller 20th Century ancestors formed the middleground while the Nineteenth Century buildings occupied the foreground. This arrangement became the ensemble you see in this mural and I hope that it tells part of the great history of Chicago and its rich architectural heritage.
Included in the mural are 62 Chicagoland buildings present and long past like Marina City, Grand Central Station, the Moody Tabernacle, Tribune Tower, and Midway Gardens.
In 2002, what was then the architecture firm of Lohan, Caprile Goettsch Architects donated the mural to the city, and thus it hangs in public view for the public to enjoy in this public building that the public rarely visits.