I spent the past weekend in Chicago for the first time, and I’ve loved it. It’s a magnificent city with so much to do and see, especially if you are an architect or appreciate architecture.
For starters the Loop and all the Chicago School Buildings. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, groundbreaking architects like Daniel Burnham and Louis Sullivan used the city as an open canvas to develop the steel-frame skyscraper. Chicago was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1871, providing early modern architects with an unprecedented opportunity to experiment and make their mark. This is one of the reasons we decided to spend the weekend in Chicago, due to its history and amazing buildings.
From the plan of the city itself to magnificent buildings like the Reliance Building (1895) or the Sullivan Center (1903), the city features all this turn of the 20th-century models that had so much influence on the architecture that preceded them.
The city also was fertile ground for Frank Lloyd Wright, who lived and worked there. A lot of his work is located in the city, from his renowned Robbie House (1909) and Farnsworth House (1951) to his classical Prairie Houses and Unity Temple (1909) in Oak Park.
It was also a welcoming home for International Style architects cast out of the Bauhaus. For Mies Van Der Rohe and others like him, it was the perfect place to rip off the yoke of Beaux-Arts ornamentalism and start fresh. From the IIT campus and its well renowned Crown Hall (1956) to the Federal Center (1958-1974) right in the middle of the Loop or even residential buildings like the Lake Shore Apartments, there are several Mies Van Der Rohe buildings in Chicago to admire.
But also, there is more recent great architecture to see: the Hancock Center (1969) or the Willis Tower (1975) by SOM, the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago (2009) by Renzo Piano, the McCormick Tribune Campus Center (2003) by OMA in the middle of the Van der Rohe masterplan, or even the entire Millennium Park (2004), that has a master plan designed by SOM and designs by Frank Gehry, Anish Kapoor, etc.