Archive for the ‘Perkins and Will’ Category

Chicago Windows – then and now

The great “Chicago windows” of the Reliance Building, reflected in the new glass going up on Block 37 across the street from it.

From the Chicago Landmarks site entry on the Reliance Building:

To Chicagoans of the 1890s, the glass-covered exterior of this building seemed to almost defy gravity. A century later, it is internationally recognized as the direct ancestor of today’s glass-and-steel skyscrapers. Extremely narrow piers, mullions, and spandrels, all covered with cream-colored terra cotta decorated with Gothic-style tracery, divide wide expanses of glass and clearly delineate the interior steel framework that supports the building. The light and airy facade is almost entirely windows–both flat and projecting bays–of the type known as a “Chicago window:” a wide fixed pane with narrow movable sash windows flanking it. A flat cornice tops the 14-story structure.

What will they write of the new windows on the buildings by Perkins and Will rising on Block 37?

Buildings and trees


Yesterday was a glorious blue sky kind of day. I woke up to the view above, from my WC at the magical artist’s colony Ragdale.
I drove down that path to end my residency, about which I’ll write more.

Downtown I drove, a few of us architecture types were to gather at Mies’ IBM building for a meeting. Many of the views from IBM are blocked by the new Trump Chicago,

that’s it looming on the left, with crazy, glossy windows. With the views blocked, some law firms, architects and other businesses have moved out of IBM and much of it will probably go condo. Not all of course. Eg, Perkins+Will architects just renewed their lease there. As for IBM, they’re long gone and the owners have redubbed the place, 330 North Wabash.

The good news is, not all of IBM’s views are completely blocked by the new Trump Chicago. Here’s a view up the river, from a southeast IBM corner office.

From a south IBM window, looking straight down,

(since it’s not blocked by Mr. Trump) one can still feel the relationship Mies gave the building to water, and ice! Not unlike his early houses in Potsdam, the Farnsworth by the Fox River, the Lake Shore Drive apartments, the fountains by Seagram, etc.

Look a little northeast,

and you see the concrete Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist; by Harry Weese (1968).

Looking west from inside IBM,

Marina City
. Looks great! (What a city, Chicago!) And Bertand Goldberg, who did Marina, knew Mies in Germany at the Bauhaus. Here they are in exciting manner, side-by-side, risen tall.

Alas, Chicago Trump Tower looks worse than feared.

One architect at the meeting, saw it through the glass and muttered, “Vegas.” Another disagreed. She said the buildings in Vegas are better. I thought, “bad Houston.” The glass is cheap, thin and warbly. And the darn thing will still grow a heck of a lot taller.

Trump Chicago – a bad building – and Rem Koolhaas’ IIT Student Center – a good building — each make the Mies they stand next to ever more elegant.

No one ever accused Donald Trump of elegance. But cities need elegance to raise them up. Remember, as I realized again this morning, cities are where we’ve cut down the trees.