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Category Archives: City Design


This article in the New York times describes Chicago’s architecture as world famous. To show off this archectiture in the city, “the Chicago Architecture Foundation offers first-rate guided tours to help visitors understand what makes this city’s skyline so special.” The foundation offers walking, bike, boat, and bus tours to more than 60 architectural sites and environments in and around Chicago. One of the CAF’s most popular tours is the 1 1/2-hour Architecture River Cruise. I have personally been on this tour and it was aw dropping. The boat sails along both the north and the south branches of the Chicago River. Although you can see these 50 or so buildings by foot, traveling by water give you a unique perspective. The boat allows you to see buildings from a lower angle, because the river is below street level. Also, the boats let you see a different side of the buildings, and it allows you to feel captured by the beauty of the city. On the boat it lets you appreciate the old and modern architecture that Chicago has. Therefore, this boat ride down the river can display the history of the City while showing off modern architectural styles. I would highly recomment this or any boat tour down the river is for anyone interested in Chicago architecture or the city itself.

– Jeremy



The Sears Tower has been a Chicago landmark for almost 36. Over that time the  Sears Tower has become the destination for millions of world tourists and a daily center of work and commerce for thousands of Chicagoans. This article describes the Sears Tower as having “served as a frequent backdrop to numerous groundbreaking films from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) to The Fugitive (1993), it has been scaled by such daring acrobats as Spider Dan (1981) and Alain “Spiderman” Robert (1998), it has been a highlight of media controversy in response to the CTBUH (1997), it has been a center of preparations for making Chicago HDTV capable (2000), it has been placed on the city’s list of focal points for protecting against terrorism (2003), and most recently it has been cited as a prospective new headquarters for the U.S. Olympic Committee (2008).” As well the building serves as a backdrop for any visitors to the city or metropolitian area, because it can be seen from miles and miles away.

It stands tall, over 1700 ft aloft. The Tower was designed in the 60’s by Bruce Graham. When the building was being constructed it was challenging two towers: the Aon Center and the World Trade center as the world’s tallest building. Therefore, this building shows Chicago commitment to putting Chicago at a status of an elite Global City.

– Jeremy



The Rookery building is the oldest high rise in Chicago that is still standing. It was designed by famous architects Daniel Burnham and John Root. This article explains the name “rookery” is inherited from the previous building on this site, an old city hall which was a favorite roosting spot of pigeons. The interior of the building is very famous. It includes a famous semi-spiral staircase. As well, the lobby was remodeled in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright, who simplified the ironwork and added planters and light fixtures in his characteristic style. The court is filled with light, and it became ver influence design in office building in Chicago. This building represents a transition between masonry and metal construction methods, with the outer walls supported mostly by masonry piers and the inner frame built of steel and iron. Therefore this building was very influencal to the city’s design after the Chicago Fire by setting the foundation for many attributed that is seen throughtout the city today.

– Jeremy


Many skyscrapers were created because of an original need for additional office space. Architects decided to build upward to satisfy the demand in urban areas so more people could take advantage of the resources that cities had to offer. One of the original towers created was the Monadnock building in Chicago, which still stands today at 15 stories, not high by today’s standards but was extreme for the time. Designed by Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root, this building was built with solid brick on the outer walls that was measured at six feet thick. Burnham and Root wanted to use metal instead of this thickness of brick but their clients did not trust this method. It was too extreme for the time period.

Eventually, Chicago architects began using office blocks with a skeleton entirely comprised of metal. Using metal for buildings faced a minor setback due to its expense at the time. Once steel became less expensive to produce and more widely available in the 1880’s, office towers began to grow taller and taller. The first architects to accept and visually accentuate this vertical character were Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan in Chicago. They began constructing 10 story buildings, which eventually grew larger. Later, Sullivan designed the Carson Pirie Scott department store building in Chicago which is now one of the most famous buildings in the city.

This type of architecture with the vertical character became known as the Chicago School. The main characteristic is the innovative steel-frame construction. Chicago School buildings have been praised as important precursors to 20th-century steel and glass skyscrapers. This construction made Chicago known as the birthplace of the first skyscraper. Therefore, this style of architecture that was invented in Chicago advanced the Modernism movement by aiding many of the skyscrapers designs created around the world.

– Jeremy

the white city

The Chicago Worlds Fair used Modernism to construct its site. Modernism was crucial to the cities development. It brought about new thinking that was able to aid in city planning. Many architects and leaders found at the end of the 19th century that new office skyscrapers were individually very impressive but they did not connect with the city as a whole. This look led to the belief that city designs occurred randomly and not planned out. Confusion was the result and few important people attempted to come up with a solution. The solution to eliminating the chaos in cities was largely influenced by the Columbian Exposition in 1893.

The Columbian Exposition helped change the confusion in the layout of cities. The Columbian Exposition was part of a World’s Fair held in Chicago that marked the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Western Hemisphere. Landscape architects such as Frederick Law Olmstead and Daniel Burnham planned the Exposition. Their goal was to showcase a design that made a cohesive group through the layout of their buildings. The work from Olmstead and Burnham caused Chicago be renamed as the “White City”.  It was given this name because of the shimmering white colored buildings that were used and because the Fair was incredibly well run and planned out. The “White City” gave people an impression of the city of having no poverty or crime. The “White City” gave Chicago a positive image, which was very different from previous years before the Great Chicago Fire. Before the fire, Chicago had the impression of being gloomy and dark. The great planning and execution of the Exposition changed that image forever.

The “White City” buildings were all designed with a classical Roman Style. This style of architecture sparked construction of large-scale classical public buildings. City halls, art museums, and public libraries started to be made using the Roman Style. This became a new form of public building construction as architects and governments found that this classical architecture was very appropriate and appealing. The Supreme Court building became a good example of this style.  From a distance the classical temple of the building is obvious, but up close it shows a degree of simplification that connects it with the art deco modernism movement.

Besides the World’s Fair having an impact on public buildings, it also sparked the idea for many cities to start to strategically planning the layout of their urban landscape. Many cities installed permanent urban planning boards or committees to make certain the land was being maximized as efficiently as possible. City leaders for the first time realized there was a need to be sensible and systematic plan because there seemed to be chaos in too many urban areas prior to this realization. This made the urban cities so much better, and aided many cities in becoming part of the global community. Establishing a planning committee for cities became known as the City Beautiful movement and lasted from 1893 until the great depression in 1930’s. The goal of the City Beautiful advocates was to improve the city through beautification. They thought this would lead to several positive effects on the city. The planners thought city beauty would inspire civic loyalty and moral rectitude in the impoverished. They also thought by bringing beauty to the American cities it would bring more culture similar to their European competitor’s cities. The last thing the planners hoped would happen was that the upper class would want to live in the urban centers, or at least spend money and work in them. Through these three effects planners thought American cities would be able to play a more important role in the global community.

Therefore the Expostion sparked innovation that was clearly used throughout the city and the rest of the world. The fair aided Chicago into allowing it turn into a Global City by using planners and the unique style of architecture. Thanks to the Worlds Fair, Chicago is a city that can play a big role in the global community.

– Jeremy

According to this article, “Marina city is a complex of two cylindrical towers near the Chicago River. Due to their unique shape, the towers are locally known as the ‘corn cobs’.” These two 60 story towers were built in 964 by Bertrand Goldberg. It is a apartment complex that includes recreational facilities, offices, restaurants, banks, a theater and 18 stories of parking space. Marina city was built with the idea of creating a fully society in the building. It became an alternative to the villages and small towns, offering everything in a small area.

Originally Chicago feared that the outflow of people from the cities in early sixties would lead to decrease jobgs. So this experimental complex created becasue it was financed by unions. It is definitly not the most famous building in Chicago, but Marina City reinforced the image of Chicago as a city on the forefront of modern urban architecture.

Even though this building is not the most famout, it is a very interesting site for movies, especially if you need to throw a car out of a building. There is a scene scene in “The Hunter” which is a car chase through one of the Marina City parking lots. The car eventually crashes in the scene through a barrier, and diving right into the river. Movies like this are great for the city because it provides more exposure for the city. The more exposure for Chicago will in the heirarchy of global cities. That is why Chicago is pushing so hard for the 2016 Olympics in the city, because the city wants to showcase to the world the opportunity Chicago offers.

– Jeremy

The Magnificent Mile in Chicago is a grand wide boulevard with exclusive shops, museums, restaurants and ritzy hotels. It is located in the northern part of Michigan Avenue between the Chicago River and Lake Shore Drive. It is Chicago’s version of Champs-Elysees in Paris.

According to this article, “All the big names in shopping are present here, from Disney and Niketown to Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue. The wide sidewalks, often adorned with well-maintained flowerbeds are always crowded. The areas around the Magnificent Mile are some of Chicago’s wealthiest.”

The Magnificent mile was named in 1947. By that time North Michigan Avenue already had become Chicago’s most fashionable street, so real estate developer Arthur Rubloff dubbed North Michigan Avenue ‘Magnificent Mile’. The name stuck and in 2001 it was even trademarked.

The oldest building on the mile is the Chicago Water Tower. It sits in the middle of the shopping area in the northern end of Michigan Ave. The Water Tower is perfect because it reminds the city of the history of the Chicago fire, while at the same time is surrounded by some of the biggest buildings in the world. It reminds people how far Chicago has come. Therefore the Magnificent Mile is a unique street that shouldn’t missed if your visiting the city.

– Jeremy

North Avenue Beach is a hot spot in Chicago. It has great views of the John Hancock buildings, and the chicago skyline. Many people go there to play volleyball, swim and relax. While today the beach is seen as a great asset to Chicago, it used to be just a swampy land.

North Avenue Beach is a classic example of a beach engineered to retain sand. This beach was created in part of the Burnham Plan. This article explains that, this beach is known as a “perched beach” because it is raised above the level of most beaches undergoing erosion. Approximately 100 feet offshore there is a submerged steel wall above the level of the lake bottom.  The wall helps contain sand on the beach that would otherwise be transported off the lake bottom and out of the area by long-shore currents. Therefore, this beach was constructed to meet the public needs.

So while most people don’t think of Daniel Burnham when they go to the beach, they should at least know his impact on Chicagoans daily lives. He helped create a world class envirnonment for the city, which gave it a new dimension.

– Jeremy

Chicago School is a type of architecture that seen all over the Chicago loop. During the 1880’s and ’90s, Chicago architects designed buildings with this type of architecture. These building main charactersistic is the innovative steel-frame construction. It was descibed in this article, “these “Chicago School” buildings have been praised as important precursors to 20th-century steel-and-glass skyscrapers.” The article also explains the characteristics of this type of building has steel frame construction; masonry cladding, usually terra cotta, clearly emphasizing the steel framing; distinctive three-part windows, with large central fixed panes flanked by smaller double-hung sash windows, and minimal use of ornament.

This type of architecture blossomed after the Chicago fire in 1871. Chicago started to boom, and the value of land in the loop started to soar. So with land becoming so valuable, the low buildings previously in Chicago were seen as not making use of the space, which sparked Chicago School style architecture. This article explains that, “In 1894 Adler & Sullivan developed a type of caisson construction for the Chicago Stock Exchange which quickly became routine for tall buildings across the United States…..This new construction, while costly, had overwhelming advantages. It was almost fireproof; the thin curtain walls hung from the steel frame allowed for more interior rental space; new floors could be added easily; and since the exterior walls were no longer essential to holding up the building, they could be cut away and replaced by ever larger expanses of glass, an important consideration in the early era of electrical lighting.”

Therefore the Chicago School was an astonishing and a profoundly important achievement. It changed the Chicago loop and the rest of the world. So this innovation helped form the city of Chicago. Also, because Louis Sullivan played such a big role in this architecture, he ended up created a Chicago landmark with this type of architecture is the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Compant Building.

– Jeremy

Chicago Buckingham Fountain is known as a top tourist attractions in the city. The fountain is located in Grant Park at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway. This article explains that the fountain was created by Edward H. Bennet and the design was influenced by Latona Basin. The fountain is dedicated to Chicago by philanthropist Kate Buckinham in honor of her brother and it was eventually opened on May 26, 1927.

The fountain has a major water display from the center jet shooting 150 ft and is displayed in the air every hour on the hour for twenty minutes. In the evening the water display has a incredible light show with music. The fountain is something that is very Chicago because it is one of the finest displays of art inside the city.

– Jeremy