Last month I had the opportunity to explore the Chicago Loop and a few surrounding neighborhoods for the first time. Chicago made quite the impression on me.
Seeing the buildings downtown brought back all I had learned about the evolution of high-rises back in architecture school. I saw the whole spectrum of history, from the Monadnock Building (the tallest building built without steel) to the famous Marina City and John Hancock Center to the shiny and new Trump Tower.
Having returned home, I find myself still thinking about all of the stone and terra cotta ornamentation that I saw. The terra cotta is a great example of the “material of the times,” and it’s prevalent use can be attributed to the need for fire protection and the availability of clay and labor. As beautiful as the terra cotta is, it’s a mass produced product.
I also had a chance to go out to Oak Park and see some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, which was a true pleasure. I could see the influence of Wright and Lewis Sullivan (his mentor) throughout Chicago.
Of course Mies Van Der Rohe had a huge influence in Chicago as well:
I was also struck by the amount of money and Power in Chicago. This project appeared to be an abandoned pedestrian bridge that easily cost millions of dollars.
Lastly, while in the Windy City I visited the neighborhood where my grandfather grew up. This is me on the front steps of one of the apartment buildings he lived in.