A History of Chicago’s City Hall and Cook County Building
Jan26

A History of Chicago’s City Hall and Cook County Building

Chicago’s City Hall and County Building is intriguing. It is not a single building but is, instead, two identical buildings joined as one. The County Building—(118 North Clark Street) facing east and Daley Plaza —is the slightly older of the two (1907) and houses Cook County department offices. City Hall (121 North LaSalle Street) faces west and was completed in 1911. It contains the Mayor’s office, the City Clerk, City Council,...

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Sheridan Road Mansions
Dec16

Sheridan Road Mansions

The recent Open House Chicago event provided thousands of people, including me, the opportunity to step inside incredible spaces and step back in time. The two Sheridan Road Mansions I visited, the Downey and Gunder houses, provided a view of life a century ago. Along with their sprawling lots and surviving coach houses, it was a happy reminder of preservation gone right. Today, both mansions are Chicago Landmarks owned by the Chicago...

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One Last Look at Historic Saint Dominic’s Church Before it Meets the Wrecking Ball
Sep30

One Last Look at Historic Saint Dominic’s Church Before it Meets the Wrecking Ball

Chicago neighborhoods are constantly changing.  But the River North area has seen more radical change than most in that twice its residents have been dramatically and fully displaced. First, with the 1950’s-60’s razing of the existing neighborhood to create the huge public housing project that was Cabrini-Green. Then starting in the 1990’s, the demolition of the same. Now the entire area – largely cleared to a blank...

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Book Review: Pocket Guide to Chicago Architecture (3rd ed.)
Sep24

Book Review: Pocket Guide to Chicago Architecture (3rd ed.)

If you own the 2nd Edition of the best-selling, oh-so-portable Pocket Guide to Chicago Architecture (2004), you won’t be surprised that there is a new, updated version this year.  Like the AIA Guide to Chicago, ten years since the last edition is an incredibly long time in Chicago architecture.  While the A.I.A. guide’s last edition had very little about Millennium Park and rectified that gap in the latest edition, the 2ndedition...

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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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