Category Archives: Architecture and Design

Row Houses (c. 1873), 802-812 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois. (1 Photo).

Row Houses, c. 1873, 802-812 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 6/2014

These early row houses were developed in Chicago’s Gold Coast/River North neighborhood in the early 1870s immediately following the Great Chicago Fire. That conflagration began south of the city’s downtown area at 137 DeKoven Street (around 1100 South) and literally blew its destruction north through downtown and onwards through today’s Gold Coast area until it petered out two days later on October 10, 1871, north of Fullerton Avenue (2400 North)⁠—a swath of more than four miles.

The aftermath of the fire sparked an intense period of (re)building, especially in Downtown Chicago, less than one mile to the south of these row houses. This may be why the architect (or architects) is unknown for these three-story and four-story Italianate buildings, all of which are well preserved.

The three-story row houses to the south have neo-Grec ornament which was in vogue starting around 1872 and included incised carved detail on window ledges and door frames. The four-story row houses to the north (partially pictured) have more lavish Second Empire exterior decoration.

Like the Italianate style, the Neo-Grec–style row houses have a smooth brownstone front with a pronounced deep cornice, heavy entryway and window details. The contrast was in their ornamentation. Neo-Grec’s simple, precise lines and geometric Greek influence contrasted with Italianate ornamentation of curved and organic lines and forms.

Italianate curved window and door frames are replaced by Neo-Grec’s right-angles. Lintels are replaced by rectangular blocks. Entryway steps had baluster cast-iron railings that ended in squared-off linear and geometric incised ornament.

Vintage map of Chicago Great Fire (detail).

Chicago was growing exponentially by 1870. In 1860 the city had a little over 112,000 residents and ranked 9th on the list of largest U.S. cities. By the time of the Great Fire in 1871, Chicago had grown to nearly 300,000 and ranked 5th on the largest U.S. cities list. Equally significant is that the city’s size also doubled in those same ten years from 17,492 square miles in 1860 to 35,172 square miles in 1870. Busy with rebuilding, the city did not expand again in square miles until the 1880’s, though its population continued to soar. When these Italianate row houses were built, Chicago was growing towards becoming the 4th largest U.S. city with a population of over 500,000. In the early 1870’s with rebuilding and augmenting population density the demand for housing was high. Chicago’s population would continue to grow with each decade until 1980.

Today, at 806 N. Dearborn is Alan Koppel Gallery which has, for over two decades, introduced contemporary international artists to Chicago audiences.

At 810 N. Dearborn is the main entrance to the Alliance Française de Chicago, founded in Paris in 1883. The Alliance Française de Chicago is part of an international network of over 1,100 Alliances around the world which promotes French language and francophone culture. Chicago’s Alliance was founded in 1897. Offering French language classes and a full range of cultural events, the Alliance Française de Chicago is the second oldest Alliance in the U.S. and the second largest in the U.S. after the French Institute Alliance Française in New York City. The Alliance Française de Chicago is headquartered in two renovated architecturally historic buildings, including the 1870’s row house on Dearborn Street and, connected by an interior garden, a building on Chicago Avenue.

SOURCES: Alice Sinkevitch, AIA Guide to Chicago, 2nd Edition, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, 2004, p. 134.

Frank A. Randall, History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago, Second Edition, Chicago and Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999, p. 5.

https://www.biggestuscities.com/city/chicago-illinois – retrieved October 30, 2021.

https://www.brownstoner.com/guides/%25guides%25/neo-grec/ – retrieved October 30, 2021.

https://www.af-chicago.org/ – retrieved October 30, 2021.

https://www.alankoppel.com – retrieved October 30, 2021.

https://thevintagemapshop.com/products/1871-mcdonalds-map-of-chicago-great-fire – retrieved October 30, 2021.

The Cobden (1892), Charles S. Frost, 418-424 W. Belden Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. (1 Photo).

The Cobden, 1892, 418-424 W. Belden Ave., Chicago, IL. 6/2014

The Cobden, a Richardsonian-Romanesque flats-above-storefront building that has anchored the northwest corner of busy Clark Street and residential Belden Avenue since 1892 was designed by architect Charles Sumner Frost (1856 –1931) of the firm of Henry Ives Cobb (1859-1931) and Frost.

Born in Maine and trained as an architect in Boston, Frost moved to Chicago in 1882. When The Cobden was built, Frost was 36 years old and at the beginning of a new stage in his early mid-career. Cobb and Frost designed and began construction of the Potter Palmer mansion (1882-1885) at 1350 N. Lake Shore Drive (demolished in 1951). The Cobden, two miles to the north in Lincoln Park along the Lake Michigan shore, was built in a burgeoning residential area at 418-424 Belden Avenue.

The Cobden is greatly influenced by the Richardsonian-Romanesque style which was prevalent among young architects in the 1880’s and 1890’s before the onset of the Beaux-Arts revival. Adapted to a residential-commercial street in a neighborhood outside Downtown Chicago, The Cobden shows the characteristics associated with the Richardsonian Romanesque style such as clear, strong picturesque massing, round-headed arches, clusters of short squat columns, recessed entrances, richly varied rustication, blank stretches of walling contrasting with bands of windows, and cylindrical towers with conical caps embedded in the walling.

The Cobden, in its bays and a prominent central gable that breaks above the roofline, presented an attractive architectural variety on Belden Avenue.

In 1897 Charles S. Frost married Mary Hughitt, the daughter of New York railroad tycoon Marvin Hughitt (1837-1928), the president of the Chicago and North Western Railroad. When the partnership of Cobb and Frost ended in 1898, Frost partnered with Mary’s sister’s husband, Alfred Hoyt Granger (1867-1939). Granger came to Chicago also from Boston (he was born in Ohio) and designed The Art Institute Building on Michigan Avenue in 1893. Frost and Granger were known for their designs of train stations and terminals such as the LaSalle Street Station in 1903. In the first decade of the 20th century, Frost and Granger designed over 100 buildings for the Chicago and North Western Railroad, including the massive Renaissance-Revival style Chicago and North Western Terminal which opened in 1912 (and demolished in 1984 to make way for the Ogilvie Transportation Center in Downtown Chicago).

When the Frost and Granger partnership ended by 1912, Frost began to work independently and designed in 1916 the Navy Pier Auditorium. Following his father-in-law’s death in 1928, Frost retired from his architectural practice at the end of the same year. After designing hundreds of public, commercial, and residential buildings, mainly in Chicago, Charles S. Frost died in 1931 at 75 years old.

Charles S. Frost in 1920.

SOURCES:

Alice Sinkevitch, AIA Guide to Chicago, 2nd Edition, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, 2004, p. 196.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume XVII, 1920, pp. 336–337.

Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile (2002), Jean-Paul Viguier, Chicago, Illinois (1 Photo).

Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile, 20 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, Illinois, Jean-Paul Viguier.

The hotel opened in May 2002 with 415 rooms. Its dramatic architecture made an immediate impression not only on the city’s denizens and visitors but much of the world. Jean-Paul Viguier (born 1946) is a leading modern Paris-based French architect. In 2003 his Sofitel Chicago Water Tower (renamed the Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile) was chosen by the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects as the “best new building in Chicago in the last ten years.”

The prism-shaped, 350,000-square-foot structure was chosen by nearly 350 established Chicago-based architects as one of the city’s most outstanding achievements in architecture. The glass triangular tower ascends and thrusts over the intersection of Chestnut and Wabash Streets. Narrowing as it rises, the shape could evoke a ship’s prow—or a geometer’s trapezoid. Its expansive façades allow generous exposures of natural light as it faces east to capture sunrise over the incredible natural backdrop of Lake Michigan and southwest towards the timeless Midwestern prairie. Adding to the building’s drama and welcome grace is its exterior of horizontal cladding of visible and opaque glass in synergy with the verticality of the building’s wedge and curve. Inside, the lobby continues this building’s dramatic modernity presenting a steely structural space that is airy, sleek, and soaring.

Mr. Viguier was selected to design Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile during a design competition in 1998 judged by Accor hotels leadership and others. Mr. Viguier is a member of the INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF ARCHITECTURE (IAA) and was president of AFEX (French Architects Overseas) from 1999 to 2002.

Jean-Paul Viguier.

Photo Credit: “File:Jean-Paul Viguier Wiki.jpg” by JPVAParis is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Mr. Viguier’s other internationally recognized projects include the France Televisions headquarters in Paris as well as the Cœur Défense in 2001 and the Tour Majunja in 2014 both in La Défense, France. The French architect built a two story expansion at the McNay Museum of Modern Art in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Viguier is also architect for the Maroc Telecom Tower in Rabat, Morocco in 2013, and, in 2015, the SFR Campus in Saint-Denis, France. Another highly regarded project is, in 2013, the Cancer University Institute in Toulouse, France.

The Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile is also listed at no. 82 in a public poll of 150 buildings of “America’s Favorite Architecture.” The poll was conducted by The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Harris Interactive and in conjunction with the AIA’s 150th anniversary in 2007.  

In 2005, Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile received the MIPIM AWARD at their international meeting of property market sector leaders gathering in Cannes, France.

The photograph was taken on June 14, 2014 at State and Chestnut Streets.

SOURCES: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4019734.html – retrieved May 24, 2021; AIA Guide To Chicago, 2nd edition, edited by Alice Sinkevitch, 2004, p. 130; https://legacy.npr.org/documents/2007/feb/buildings/150buildings.pdf – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.floordaily.net/floorfocus/aia-poll-of-americas-favorite-buildings-released – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://iaa-ngo.com/portfolio-posts/jean-paul-viguier/ – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/chicago-architecture-boom – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.viguier.com/en – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://archello.com/project/campus-sfr-sfr-headquarters – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://archello.com/project/cancer-university-institute – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.viguier.com/en/projets/mcnay-museum-san-antonio-texas – retrieved May 24, 2021; https://www.viguier.com/en/projets/tour-maroc-telecom-rabat – retrieved May 24, 2021.

Helmut Jahn (1940-2021) Notable Buildings in Chicago. (3 Photos).

Helmut Jahn was famous in Chicago and around the world for his prolific postmodern architecture particularly his work in steel and glass.

Born in Germany near Nuremberg, in 1940, Jahn graduated from Technische Hochschule in Munich and moved to Chicago in 1966. Jahn arrived in Chicago just as “downtown development” during the administration of Mayor Richard J. Daley (1902-1976) was finding its greatest momentum. Jahn began to study under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and, in 1967, joined Charles (C.F.) Murphy Associates which later became Murphy/Jahn. The younger man would carry on the powerful influence and energy of these Chicago personalities for building big, creatively, and prolifically for the next fifty years into the first quarter of the 21st century. Jahn would add his own significant contribution and footprint in Chicago and around the nation and world in those same long years of his activity.

One of Jahn’s early projects in his first years in Chicago was McCormick Place. The original concrete and steel permanent exposition hall on the lakefront that opened in 1960 was destroyed in a fire in January 1967, just as Jahn was starting to work as a professional architect. Named for Col. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper owner and publisher had boosted the idea of a permanent exposition hall on Chicago’s lakefront for years prior to his death in 1955.

Jahn had come to Chicago at an exciting time to be building there — during Jahn’s first years in Chicago the John Hancock Building was completed in 1969 and the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the world for the next 24 years, was completed in 1974. In 1971, C.F. Murphy completed the new and massive McCormick Place, a powerful steel and glass structure with enormous cantilever eaves, on the same lakefront site as the old exposition hall. Out of that single successful building project, Helmut Jahn and the rest of the world saw the significant development in Chicago that would blossom around this important and functional modern architecture over ensuing decades — including the North building constructed across Lake Shore Drive in 1986; the South building built in 1996; a hotel built in 1998; the massive West building built in 2007; and, in 2017, the Wintrust Arena.

In the mid 1980’s one of Jahn’s most significant creations was the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Aesthetically grandiose and controversial, the “State of Illinois Building” was put up for sale in 2021 by the administration of Governor J.B. Pritzker, citing its historically high operating and maintenance costs.

Mixed reviews for Helmut Jahn’s massive semi-circular Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph completed in 1985. The criticism begins at its entrance where Jahn saw placed “Outsider” French artist Jean Dubuffet’s fiberglass Monument with Standing Beast. During the building’s planning and construction some of the architect’s dazzling concepts met with resistance from contractors. For example, the contractors prevailed against Jahn’s idea for a completely locked-down outer skin by way of using silicone glazing. In the final construction the appearance of red, white, and blue locked-down skin belies the several places throughout the design where windows are made to be opened. Inside, though its soaring 17-story atrium is airy and impressive exposing floors that hold various state bureaucracy—and signaling the state government’s day-to-day practicality towards transparency the practicality of the new building’s heating and cooling design proved seriously problematic during Chicago’s famous summer heat and winter cold though that major issue appeared to be eventually resolved. In 2021 Jahn’s mega-structure has been put up for sale by Gov. J.B. Pritzker citing that the building costs hundreds of millions of dollars to operate and maintain. The photograph was taken by the author on May 25, 2014.

In Chicago Jahn designed the exposed steel frame United Airlines Terminal 1 at O’Hare International Airport between 1985 and 1988. Air travelers for decades have enjoyably traversed its entertaining walkway connecting concourses that include moving sidewalks, colorful lighting and futuristic sounds.

One South Wacker Drive, 1982, Helmut Jahn. To the left is UBS Tower (1 N. Wacker) built in 2001 and to the right is Hyatt Center ( 71 S. Wacker) built in 2005. At 42 years old, Jahn spoke of his building at 1 S. Wacker as a synthesis of two major Chicago architectural stylesthat of Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) and, Jahn’s mentor and fellow German, Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969). The building is a concrete stepped-back 50-story building with a curtain wall of dark glass defining the vertical bands of windows. Its vision remains fresh and stunning as it sits majestically between two postmodern buildings built in Chicago a generation later. The photograph was taken by the author on May 25, 2014.

Jahn designed the 23-story addition to the Chicago Board of Trade in 1980 and Accenture Tower at 500 W. Madison in the West Loop which opened in 1987. Across the nation and world Helmut Jahn’s fresh, grand, and innovative designs have made their way into the annals of postmodern architecture. Any complete list of Helmut Jahn’s active and completed projects extends necessarily into the many scores. A list of notable buildings could include the 1999 K St. NW, a 12-story structure, in Washington D.C. completed in 2009; the twin 37-story Veers Towers in Las Vegas, Nevada opened in 2010; and, in his native Germany, the 63-story Messeturm in Frankfurt opened in 1990 and the Sony Center, a complex of eight buildings, in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin completed in 2000. The hard-driving list goes on…and on.

Jeanne and John Rowe Village at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), 2003, Helmut Jahn. Originally called the State Street Village Dormitories, Jahn’s postmodern structure that anchors the campus to the east, consists of three five-story buildings. Jahn’s design was the first major architectural addition to the IIT campus since the early 1960’s. U.S. News & World Report called it one of the “coolest dorms in the nation.” Stretching one city block along busy State Street from 33rd to 34th Streets, Rowe Village is next to the El tracks whose Green Line zips back and forth to Chicago’s Loop. Each dorm building consists of two wings that flank an interior courtyard. The building is finished at the rear on 34th street by an insulated five-story glass wall. Entry is through the courtyard which leads into a corridor that connects the two wings. It is built of reinforced concrete with the front elevations and roof dressed in custom corrugated stainless steel panels and tinted glass framed in aluminum. The building’s sleek curvature, three compartments and chained block-long length, reflects and evokes the image of a streamlined train making for a building as Art Moderne object in the Miesian tradition. From its rooftop the Rowe Village looks north for views of Chicago’s downtown skyline while the dorm offers suite-style living in a modern setting surrounded by the mind, serious and playful, of Helmut Jahn. The photograph was taken by the author on August 21, 2015.

At the time of his death at 81 years old on May 8, 2021 in a bike road accident in the far western suburbs of Chicago, Helmut Jahn was working on a 74-story residential building in Chicago at 1000 S. Michigan. It was scheduled to be opened in 2022 but its construction was already delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic that postponed construction. Helmut Jahn taught at IIT, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Harvard University, and Yale University. In 2012 Murphy/Jahn became JAHN and, according to a recent report from Dun & Bradstreet, the firm had a total of 55 employees and generated a little over $6 million in annual sales.

SOURCES:

https://web.iit.edu/housing/jeanne-john-rowe-village – retrieved May 9, 2021.

AIA Guide To Chicago, 2nd edition, edited by Alice Sinkevitch, 2004, pp.73 and 91.

Illinois Institute of Technology: the campus guide: an architectural tour, Franz Schulze, 2005, pp.83-4.

Chicago’s Lakefront McCormick Place, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4Vs5VZprFE – retrieved May 9, 2021.

https://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/architecture-dictionary/entry/helmut-jahn/

https://www.dnb.com/business-directory/company-profiles.murphy-jahn_inc.5e1fc35946048f1332755d271c944303.html – retrieved May 10, 2021

https://www.jahn-us.com/ – retrieved May 10, 2021.

http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/UA_Terminal-O_Hare.html– retrieved May 10, 2021.

https://www.aviationpros.com/airports/consultants/architecture/news/21222012/helmut-jahn-chicagos-starchitect-to-the-world-was-the-visionary-behind-uniteds-ohare-terminal – retrieved May 10, 2021.

https://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/lighting/1999-k-st-nw_o – retrieved May 10, 2021.

Mentor Building (1906), Howard Van Doren Shaw, Chicago, Illinois. (1 Photo).

The Mentor Building, 39 S. State Street (6 E. Monroe Street), 1906, Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869-1926) from the southwest.

A Mentor building has stood on this northeast corner of State and Monroe since 1873 when there had been a 7-story building erected here.1

Howard Van Doren Shaw’s only skyscraper presents an unusual mixture of styles.

There are windows grouped in horizontal bands between a four-level base of large showroom windows. The top is classically inspired with details that are strong and idiosyncratic. The building retains the character of its classical sources though they are used as large-scale motifs.2

Shaw’s 1906 building is 17 stories high with two basements on rock caissons.3

The photograph was taken on July 5, 2015.

1 Frank A. Randall, History of Development of Building Construction in Chicago, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded by John D. Randall, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1999, p, 196.

2 Alice Sinkevitch, AIA Guide to Chicago, 2nd Edition, Harcourt, Inc., Orlando, 2004, p. 59.

3 Randall, p.265.

Architecture: Chicago’s Suburbs (6 Photos).

Photographs and text: John P. Walsh.

600 Central, Wilmette, February 2021. The house is dated to 1893.

Old Parsonage, 1872, Washington Street at Maple Avenue, Downers Grove, Illinois, February 2018.

Jason and Lucy Flanders House, 1841, 24044 Main Street, Plainfield, Illinois, August 11, 2013.

Plainfield was settled at the end of the 1820’s when James Walker constructed a sawmill on the DuPage River. The mill attracted settlers to the region and created Will County’s first permanent community. Located about halfway on the Chicago-Ottawa stagecoach line, Plainfield developed commercially, including a booming lumber trade. Jason and Lucy Flanders married in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1833 (they were both 23 years old). Jason Flanders, born in Vermont, had worked in Boston, Massachusetts since 1830. Lucy Ann Clark Flanders was born in New Hampshire. The Flanders arrived into Will County in 1833 and after seven years of farming, moved to Plainfield in 1840. The Flanders had six children.

Built in 1841, Flanders House exhibits characteristics of both the Federal and Greek revival styles. This includes symmetrically arranged windows and a central entrance overlaid by a porch of the 1920’s. Also known as Mapleview Farm and Bragaw-Klomhaus House, The Flanders’ Place has had only a handful of owners in its 180-year history. There is no record of the house ever being used for any non-residential purpose though it may have served in a commercial capacity, perhaps serving travelers on the Dr. Temple Stage Line Chicago-Ottawa route.

The two-story, side gabled rectangular building is approximately 30 x 40 feet in dimension and with later additions. Jason Flanders built the house with hewn logs and sided it with walnut, its original siding hidden by later exterior finishes. The house was finished on the inside also with walnut. Walnut was abundant in the Plainfield area which may explain partly why the Flanders did not hesitate to whitewash the house exterior.

Jason Flanders was the town constable (Plainfield’s first) and at his death had amassed many hundreds of acres of land. The Flanders and their descendants retained control of the property until 1974. While it is recorded that Jason Flanders was a Methodist, his late-20th-century descendant sold the house to a Lutheran church for use as a parsonage. It was sold again in the early 1990s and restored to emulate its original appearance. Flanders House remains one the oldest extant houses in Plainfield, Illinois, today.

SOURCES: https://www.plainfield-il.org/pages/historicpreservationhttp://gis.hpa.state.il.us/PDFs/200822.pdf

Venard/Kelly/Orwin House, 4540 Highland Avenue, Downers Grove, Illinois. Constructed in 1914, this American Foursquare with Craftsman influences maintains its original features.

The exterior has bevel siding on the first story and shingles on the second with dividing molding. The full width front porch has double and triple columns and a front door with oval glass. There is a bay window off the dining room with triple windows. The view is taken from the southeast on February 16, 2021.

21 S. Sleight Street, 1884, Naperville, Illinois. Photographed in June 2014.

Frame house, tower, clapboard and shingle patterns. The tower is cut on a bias (on an angle), approaching 45 degrees. This has the tower with less surface area than if cutting it square. The cut also can serve an aesthetic or other construction function such as cost or footprint. The porch has turned posts that gives the late-19th-century house added curb appeal and makes it stand out. A variety of carpentry work further gives interest to the structure and displays the house’s solid craftsmanship.

15 S. Sleight Street, 1883, Naperville, Illinois. Photographed in June 2014.

Similar to 21 S. Sleight Street (photograph above) which is next door, the frame house at 15 S. Sleight Street is the slightly older of the pair. There is clapboard on the first floor and shingle patterns on the second floor. The house has a hip roof and front-facing gable with eave returns. At the top of the gable there is a full sunburst motif and to either side below it two half sunburst motifs. The porch has square posts with lathed inlets. Like its neighbor, the house originally had a tower that was removed.

SOURCE SLEIGHT STREET HOUSES: A Guide to Chicago’s Historic Suburbs on Wheels and on Foot, Ira J. Bach, Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 1981, p. 404.

Park Tower Condominium (1973), Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz (SBD), Chicago, Illinois. (1 Photo).

Photographs and text: John P. Walsh.

Chicago. Modern. Park Tower Condominium (1973). SCB. 8/2015. 3.15 mb

5414 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago. Park Tower Condominium is on the lakefront next to north Lake Shore Drive and across from Foster Beach in Lincoln Park.

Constructed in 1973 by Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz (SCB), a Chicago architectural firm founded in 1931, the tower was planned as the first of three towers in a triangular formation but the others did not materialize.

TALLEST BUILDING OUTSIDE DOWNTOWN FOR 8 MILES NORTH TO FOSTER BEACH

At 55 stories tall (513 feet high), Park Tower Condominium is the tallest structure between downtown and Foster Beach and one of the tallest structures in Chicago outside the downtown area.

Park Tower Condominiumis one of the largest all-residential buildings in the city.It was originally built as luxury rental apartments, though the building became condos in 1979.

In the Edgewater neighborhood, Park Tower Condominium is one of three residential towers in Chicago with black Miesian windows and three rounded lobes. The others are Lake Point Tower (505 North Lake Shore Drive) and Harbor Point (155 North Harbor Drive).

The photograph was taken on August 7, 2015 from Lincoln Park.

https://www.architectmagazine.com/firms/solomon-cordwell-buenz

https://www.emporis.com/buildings/117420/park-tower-condominiums-chicago-il-usa

Works of David Adler (1882-1949), Chicago architect, Part 1.

adler-001fixed

David Adler (January 3, 1882 – September 27, 1949) was an American architect who made major contributions in domestic architecture for mostly affluent clients in and around Chicago. Different than German-American modernist architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) who also practiced in Chicago around the same time, David Adler’s important work drew from the past for his architectural idioms.What are these artistic arrows in Adler’s quiver and what makes his work interesting and valuable today?

Buildings intact and standing today.

A great amount of his domestic buildings are still standing and mainly intact for the viewer to see and experience today. Only seven of his architectural projects have been demolished. These monuments of a gilded age attract one’s attention by their powerful presence based on their typical enormity, ornate details, and tasteful grace rooted in the classic European style. Gigantic skylights, curved staircases, ornate fanlight windows, columns, working fountains, and many other features, characterize Adler’s homes for his clients.

Based on his commissioned projects, David’s Adler’s architectural career spanned from 1911 following his return from studying in Europe after an undergraduate career at Princeton University, until the year of his death in 1949. 

Early work and later updates.

In 1913, 31-year-old Adler was designing and building outside of the Chicago area—specifically, a chapel and iron gates at Greenwood Cemetery in Galena, Illinois.

After 1915, he was doing out-of-state projects such as the Berney house and garage in Fort Worth, Texas and the Dillingham house in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Adler’s grandiose floor plans made their appearance at start of his career in 1911 and continued over 38 years in more than 200 major works, several of which he returned to in later years and updated.

Diverse projects for social elite.

His work includes mostly houses, whether complete or in alterations and additions, but also apartments, townhouses, gates and terraces, outbuildings and dependencies, clubhouses, locker rooms, bathhouses, swimming pools, cottages, commercial buildings, boardrooms, lodges, prefabricated houses, houseboats, and in 1924, a dining car for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. In the late 1940s, Adler turned to designing an altar and headstones for the social elite.

Adler planned and built in locations throughout the United States including the aforesaid Fort Worth, Texas and Honolulu, Hawaii; Wisconsin; Minnesota; Massachusetts; New York City and State; Connecticut; Colorado; Georgia; California; Florida; Louisiana; Virginia; New Mexico; as well as internationally, including British Columbia; and London, England.

Work in and near Chicago, Illinois.

The vast majority of his commissions—whether he planned and built them or only planned them—are found in the American Midwest, especially in Illinois, and particularly in and around Chicago. 

While some Adler commissions were also planned but not constructed, only a handful of buildings have been so far razed. This translates for today’s viewer into a near complete body of Adler’s architectural work to be appreciated (although most remain in private hands).

Anti-Modernist, European tradition and American taste.

As streamlined, monumental and functional modernist architecture made its appearance in the late nineteenth century based in part on the stylistic language of industrialization, the wealth generated in that prosperous machine age became concentrated in the hands of individuals and their families who, having begun the perennial pilgrimage of American tourists to Europe, desired to live in private residences that evoked the palatial surroundings of historical nobility.3 

David Adler’s “traditionalist” work in the first half of the twentieth century was part of, and built on, the great American tradition of architects who relied on European antecedents but adapted them to contemporary American taste. Additionally, Adler’s years in Europe between 1908 and 1911, especially in France, and his return to Chicago which like other cities in the United States after 1890 experienced a Beaux-Arts (academic neoclassical) renaissance, led him to embrace traditional architectural systems and rules for his clients throughout his career.

Honorary licensed architect of the “Great House.”

Throughout the 1910s and 1920s Adler’s architectural practice— surprisingly he was not a licensed architect although he received an honorary license in his mid-career—encountered socioeconomic conditions in Chicago and elsewhere that benefited his early and later design success.

Proliferation of his traditional work is more remarkable when viewed in the context of the modernist architectural achievements which were materializing on the landscape in the United States and Europe in those same years he practiced.

Onset of the Great Depression and Memorial Service at The Art Institute of Chicago.

By the end of his life Adler expressed regret that the lengthy era of the “great house” was over. In the Great Depression in the 1930s, Adler had to adapt to designing smaller-scaled projects.

When Adler died unexpectedly at 67 years old in 1949, he left new commissions on the drafting table. His memorial service was held in The Art Institute of Chicago where Adler had been a board member for almost twenty five years and he was buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery.

NOTES

  1. The Country Houses of David Adler, Stephan M. Salny, Introduction by Franz Schulze, W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London, 2001. p. 9.
  2. Ibid., pp.193- 203.
  3. Ibid., p. 10; see We’ll Always Have Paris, American Tourists in France since 1930, Harvey Levenstein, The University of Chicago Press, 2004.
  4. Country houses, p.11.

Charter Club, Princeton, New Jersey, 1903. Razed in 1913.

David Adler 1905 Charter Club.

Adler’s sketch in 1905 for Princeton’s Charter Club.

David Adler Charter Club

The Charter Club based on Adler’s design. One of Princeton’s undergraduate eating clubs.

David Adler.

Charter Club, symmetrical Georgian Revival design. The entrance portico was supported by four Doric columns that partly masked a balcony on the second story. Strong dental molding crowd the tops of the second-floor windows, while a row of five identical dormers gave the structure a top-heavy look. A covered porch extended to the east, supported by Doric columns. As a cost-saving measure, the entire structure was built of wood. It was replaced in 1913.

Mrs. and Mrs. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Louis XIII style. Alterations, 1930. Razed, 1960s.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. View of house from Lake Michigan.

David Adler as a young man.

David Adler when a young man.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Terrace façade.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's. DINING ROOM.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Dining Room. English walnut paneling with hand-carved walnut table and high back upholstered chairs.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Original entrance to Stonehill Mansion on Sheridan Road in Glencoe, Illinois. It sat on more than 19 acres on Lake Michigan. In 2016 North Shore Congregation Israel Temple is on the site.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. RAZED in the 1960s.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's. ENTRANCE.

David Adler, Stonehill (called Pierremont), Entrance Hall. The Stonehill family lived at the estate until the Crash of 1929.

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The Château de Balleroy is a seventeenth-century château in Balleroy, Normandy.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.
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One of two stone rams at the entrance to courtyard at Stonehill mansion. Landscape architect Jens Jensen (1860-1951) designed several gardens at the mansion.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's. MUSIC ROOM.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Music Room. Louis XVI paneling and parquet-de-Versailles flooring with Louis XV furnishings.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Members of the Household Staff at the Charles A. Stonehill Estate. The mansion was demolished in the 1960s.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Garden trellis at the Charles A. Stonehill estate in Glencoe, Illinois.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Inspired by the Chateau de Balleroy in northern France, Charles A. Stonehill commissioned his son-in-law David Adler to design and build this Louis-XIII style building. Set high on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, this home was a popular weekend destination by many of Chicago’s elite in the 1910s.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Members of the staff of The Charles A. Stonehill Estate on the beach.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Drawing Room. Tuscan pilasters. Unique octagonal-shaped coffered ceiling.

Mrs. and Mrs. Ralph H. Poole, Lake Bluff, Illinois, 1912. Louis-XV style. Stands. 

Mr/s. Ralph H. POOLE, Lake Bluff, Illinois, 1912, STANDING.

Mr/s. Ralph H. POOLE, Lake Bluff, IL, 1912. Adler was influenced by François Mansart (1598-1666) for this early commissioned project.

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Floor plan, Poole house, Lake Bluff, Illinois, 1912. Adler placed the five main rooms along the rear of the house with the living room as the central gathering point.

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POOLE (Lake Bluff, IL), 1912. Adler’s interior is based on the Hôtel Biron in Paris (today’s Musée Rodin).

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POOLE (Lake Bluff, IL), 1912. Living room to music and dining rooms.

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POOLE (Lake Bluff, IL), 1912. Dining room.

Mrs. and Mrs. Charles B. Pike, 955 Lake Road, Lake Forest, Illinois. Built in 1916 in the Italian Villa style. Building stands. 

The house at 955 Lake Road in Lake Forest, Illinois, sits on Lake Michigan and is designed in the Italian villa style. Built in 1916 for Charles and Frances Pike, the 21-room house possesses one of Adler’s most successful outdoor spaces – the entrance Courtyard.

Creating paths using paving beach stones with embedded designs, this outdoor garden was encapsulated on four sides by the back wall of the house (the main entrance which faces the road) as well the Kitchen, classically-proportioned Entrance Loggia and fifty-foot-long Gallery.

The Courtyard was further integrated with the interior space where one enters the house’s main rooms from the Entrance Loggia into the Vestibule (with Adler’s masterful treatment of pediments and coffered ceiling) or by way of one of three sets of French doors with pilaster-supported archways into the vaulted Gallery.

In addition to the Vestibule and Gallery with its airy fifteen foot-tall ceilings, the interior first-floor plan of the Pike house contained the Living Room, Dining Room and East Loggia. Each of these main rooms was oriented to the balustraded landings of two staircases which led to an expansive sunken garden and towards Lake Michigan.  The second floor of the Pike house contained bedrooms.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest, Illinois. 1916. Entrance Facade.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Entrance Loggia.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Entrance Loggia, another view.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Courtyard.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Courtyard with view of his design of the pavement using beach stones creating an interplay of color, texture, and shape.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Vestibule. From the Entrance Loggia one enters the house’s main rooms into this Vestibule with Adler’s masterful treatment of pediments and coffered ceiling.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Gallery.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Living Room (or Library). The black stone fireplace mantel was the focal point of the room.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Living Room (or Library) in recent times.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Dining Room. The same size as the as the Living Room, the black terrazzo floor was consistent on the first floor, but Adler achieved greater intimacy with the beamed ceiling.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Dining Room today.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Garden/Main Facade. The house was inspired by Charles A. Platt’s Villa Turicum from 1908, but Adler turned the Pike house’s orientation to the Lake and away from the road.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Sunken Garden. Looking toward Lake Michigan.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Garden/Main Facade today.

Mrs. and Mrs. Alfred E. Hamill, Lake Forest, Illinois. Built by Henry Dangler in 1914 in the Italian style and renovated by David Adler in 1917. Building stands. 

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When Adler became involved in the project, the Hamill House added two bronze centaurs on pedestals at the foot of the driveway introducing its new brick and limestone forecourt. A more dramatic change was the installation of the false parapet that heightened the house and hid its tiled roof.

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Adler added the library to the west wing with steps going down to it from the living room. Warm and inviting the library had tall walnut bookcases and a hemispherical niche. One door opened to a staircase leading to Hamill’s second-floor bedroom. The fireplace was detailed in black marble and limestone with a pediment mantel. Over time Adler directed interior changes that included a breakfast room and music room.

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Into the 1920’s Hamill — an investment banker and the man who introduced Adler to involvement with the Museum of The Art Institute of Chicago — continued to make grandiose changes to his house. Some included adding a tower building and garage and servants’ quarters in the same Italian design as the main house. The tower stood almost seventy-five feet tall and  included Alfred Hamill’s study.

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Alfred Hamill’s study in the Italian-style tower by David Adler in the 1920’s is reminiscent of Napoleon’s tented study at Malmaison in France.

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Another of Hamill’s improvements in the 1920’s was a Palladian-designed Garden Pavilion with limestone open summerhouse and cylindrical posts encircled by stairs leading to a deck. Today the Hamill House as well as its tower and garden pavilion stand, but are separate properties.