Architecture of Chicago - 5 Structures and Architectural Styles in Chicago

Chicago is known for its numerous structures, all representative of different architectural styles. The architecture in Chicago often referred to as the Chicago School, features skyscrapers, bungalows, cathedrals, museums, public spaces, and many more structures which are more often than not less antique and more original, mainly owing to the Great Chicago Fire.

Chicago School - The Architectural Style of Chicago

The popular Heyworth Building in Chicago

The Chicago School: Initially known as Commercial Style, the Chicago School is an architectural style that encompasses the diverse styles of architecture of Chicago. It started out in the 1880s and 1890s as a school of architects who promoted certain types and techniques of design and construction, such as the use of steel-frame construction. Some of the architects associated with this school include Dankmar Adler, Martin Roche, John Root, and Louis Sullivan while the structures include the Rookery Building, Monadnock Building, and Heyworth Building.

The Second Chicago School: On the other hand, the Second Chicago School came up between the 1940s and 1970s which saw the promotion of tube-frame structures, mainly influenced by modernist architecture. Bruce Graham, Fazlur Khan, Myron Goldsmith, and Walter Netsch are a few of the prominent architects who featured this style of architecture. Furthermore, the DeWitt-Chestnut Apartment Building, John Hancock Center, and Willis Tower are some of the many buildings erected during this time. 

The Construction of the Structures in Chicago

The well-known bungalows in Chicago

The numerous structures in Chicago were constructed following different styles of architecture, such as Oriental, Postmodern, Gothic Revival, Tudor Revival, etc., thus contributing to the city’s unique architectural scene. Here is how some of the structures in Chicago were constructed:
  • Skyscrapers: It was during the 1880s that many architects began incorporating the Chicago School into their work, and predominantly turned towards steel-frame construction followed by the use of plate glass. Most of the modern skyscrapers were constructed following such plans, using heavy bricks, stone, structural steel, steel frames with glass and terra cotta skins, and other materials. There was also a major focus on the vertical nature of these structures. Under the Second Chicago School, the focus moved towards tube-frame construction.
Buildings: Home Insurance Building, Montauk Building, DeWitt-Chestnut Apartment Building.Architects: William LeBaron Jenney, John Wellborn Root Sr., Daniel Burnham, Fazlur Khan etc.
  • Residential buildings: The first half of the 20th century saw the development of many residential neighborhoods in Chicago. The Prairie School and then the Modern/ International style influenced the construction of buildings as well as the furnishings during this time. This kind of architecture featured two, three or six-flat apartment buildings, with the layout usually including bay windows, living and dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and grey stone or red brick facades. 
Buildings: Chicago Bungalows.Architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe etc.
  • Landmarks, monuments, and public spaces: Littered all around the city, the architecture of Chicago, when it comes to landmarks or monuments, is mainly characterized by the work of the “Chicago Seven.” It is often believed that their work brought about a revival of the Neoclassical style of architecture in the city and in the country. Moreover, the “White City,” which was constructed for the World's Columbian Exposition, is believed to have influenced a modern architecture style, which was reflected in the subsequent structures built in Chicago. Today, much of the city’s architecture reflects the landscape architecture.
Buildings: Greyhound Bus Terminal, Kinzie Park Tower, Harold Washington Library Center, Conrad Sulzer Regional LibraryArchitects: James Nagle, Stanley Tigerman, James Ingo Freed, Tom Beeby, Daniel Burnham etc.

5 Buildings that Represent Chicago Architecture

Chicago is home to a multitude of buildings and structures, all representing different architectural styles. Different architects contributed to the construction of many buildings, in the past and present, which give you an idea of the diverse architecture of Chicago. Here are   of the most iconic buildings in the city:

1. Bahá'í House of Worship

The beautiful Bahá'í House of Worship

The Baháʼí House of Worship was designed by architect Louis Bourgeois. He designed it such that it reflects the ideals of the Bahá’í faith and combined elements of different architectural styles to create the structure. Some of the most prominent features include Romanesque clerestory, Islamic arabesque tracery, Gothic ribbing, neoclassical symmetry, and minarets. There are carvings on the nine exterior pillars as well as rectangular and circular gardens. Concrete and quartz were used predominantly for the entire structure. 
Opened: 1953
Address: 100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091, United States

2. The Rookery

The interiors of The Rookery

Designed by Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root, The Rookery is a 12- storey building that used to be the tallest building in the world at one point of time. It is, with its hollow core, a cube-like structure with a red granite base and a Romanesque entrance arch. A representative of Queen Anne and Prairie School architectural styles, the building sports an interior steel frame and exterior load-bearing walls.
Opened: 1888
Address: 209 S LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60604, United States

3. Marina City

Marina City in Chicago

The Marina City is a residential-commercial building complex occupying a whole block on State Street, designed by Bertrand Goldberg. The structure follows a tripartite plan, with the two towers featuring the same floor plans. The towers are set around a vertical circulation core and on a rectilinear base. There is a spiraling parking garage spread out across the first 20 floors followed by condos on the next 40, each with their semicircular balconies stacked atop each other. The entire structure is made mainly of reinforced concrete. 
Completed: 1967
Address: Marina City Goldberg, Chicago, IL 60654, USA

4. 190 South LaSalle Street

190 South LaSalle Street in Chicago

Philip Johnson-designed 190 South LaSalle Street which is situated in the financial district of Chicago. Also known as the U.S Bank Building, it has a masonry facade, coordinated exteriors, and a green gabled roof inspired from the 1892 Masonic Temple. A representative of Postmodern buildings, it has 40 floors, and the lobby sported a tapestry called “The 1909 Plan of Chicago.” Moreover, it houses The Library which elicits feelings of being in a different era, owing to Palladian windows, book-lined walls, and a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan and the Ceres statue.
Completed: 1987
Address: 190 S LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60603, United States

5. Aqua Tower

The unique Aqua Tower

Representing the contemporary style of architecture, the Aqua Tower in Chicago is an 82-storey building designed by Studio Gang Architects. In order to build balconies that stretch outwards to provide views of the city, the structure has irregularly shaped concrete floor slabs, thus giving it its undulating appearance. Moreover, the terrace with its gardens, pools, hot-tubs, gazebos, etc. sits atop the structure which contains condos, apartments, office,s and parking spaces. 
Completed: 2009
Address: 225 N Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60601, United States
One of the most interesting things is that the architecture in Chicago is quite varied, which means that you would not only discover a lot of unique structures but would also get to learn a lot about its rich history and heritage.

This post was published by Arushi Bhowmick

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