Historic Old Town Triangle Church Has a Future in Dance

A historic church across the street from Lincoln Park will be saved from demolition, and find new life as a dance studio.

Herman Baptist Church was founded in 1888 by Gold Coast domestics so they wouldn’t have to slog all the way to the South Side to go to church (part of the city’s history of segregating certain Christian denominations by race, ethnicity, and nationality).  Two years ago, the building at 1754 North Clark Street was put up for sale.  The site’s zoning sparked fears that it could be demolished to make way for tony townhouses, or a single, large four-story mansion.

Rendering of the new Giordano Dance Chicago building (via bKL Architecture)

Rendering of the new Giordano Dance Chicago building (via bKL Architecture)

Instead, the Chicago Plan Commission has approved a plan from  Giordano Dance Chicago to build a new dance studio on the property, while simultaneously preserving the historic red brick church building.

The melding of old and new is being done by The Loop’s bKL Architecture.  It’s designed a 70-foot-tall geometric glass wave that will encompass the old building, while providing ground floor commercial space, a rooftop terrace, offices, and of course, dance studios.  In the words of bKL:

The façade design creates a juxtaposition between the old and the new and caters to the materiality of the old brick and the new transparent glass form.

A grand, double-height entry welcomes visitors and invites passersby to explore the building’s transformative nature relating the church’s historic pitched roof form to its new modern glass enclosure.

If you love the Spertus Institute’s South Michigan Avenue facade, imagine that married with the structure of the HumboldtBox in Berlin.

Lots of buildings are described using the overworked word “inviting.”  But this structure practically beckons, “Hey, come over here.  Look at me.  Touch me.  Come on in.  Yes, it’s jazz dance, but you don’t need a black beret and a dogeared copy of Nietzsche to enjoy it.”

Perhaps when this new facility comes online, the partnership that Giordano Dance had with WTTW in the 1960’s can be rekindled and once again these Chicago artists can be featured on local airwaves.  Hint, hint.

Location: 1754 North Clark Street, Old Town Triangle

Author: Editor

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

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