19th-Century Chicago Architecture - Bob Vila

19th-Century Chicago Architecture – Bob Vila



well we'll explore the Attic shortly but right now why don't we get together with Susan Benjamin architectural historian who's gonna take us on a tour of some of Chicago's nineteenth-century landmarks okay today we're going to take a look at five of Chicago's most significant 19th century buildings that way starting with the John Jay Western house designed by Boston architect HH Richardson in 1886 yes now what makes this so unique oh it was a radical departure for the time very different from the Chateau s design for William W Kimball of Kimball piano company sure French chateaus and Italian villas lined the street not this much more functional looking building by retreat now what makes this so different it feels different well it kind of looks like a fortress yeah and yet it has really very elegant sophisticated detailing it does turn its back on the street though it doesn't have big windows the big windows are all on the interior courtyard the family living areas face out onto that that courtyard yeah like communi we'll take a look at it is it a granite it's a pink round it's a Wellesley granite from Massachusetts where he was promised this is beautiful you know as formidable as the exterior facade is this is picturesque and intimate dining room conservatory above the family could enjoy a leisurely meal and yet and look out on this glorious space and yet the space is also functional because behind me is the Porte cochere where visitors and the family could pull up in their carriages and come out and enter through this doorway and the carriages would would be pulled right through to the carriage house nice lifestyle oh not bad but let's go downtown and see the Rookery I'm sure you'll enjoy that very much there was a great fire in Chicago right in 1873 oh it was 1871 and it wiped the slate clean for the construction of a skyscraper such as the Rookery building design in 1886 by Burnham arute exemplifies the latest and modern technology it's not very tall no 11 stories but that was a skyscraper the metal frame buildings rolled playplace windows very latest in modern and elevators – right oh ho absolutely hydraulic elevator let's take a look at some spectacular Wow Susan I had no idea that it was wide open inside here yes and this internal whiteboard is very typical of Chicago school building is it it allows light to filter into the interior office I had no idea that was being restored what are they doing down here what they're doing is that they were moving car they covered over this original skylights oh you mean they put tar over the glasses 30 30 or 40 years ago and now it's going to be restored to its original glory what a big job and then what's the space below the skylight the space was remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905 it's the main entry Bob it's the main entry lobby and it's marble and it's beautiful fantastic now this light chef what did you call it light court light court it won't be open to the elements anymore then right you've done me this is a plexiglass roof a new glass will protect this entire court unit and what what's the circular elements in front of the spiral staircase it runs up the entire 11 stories of the buildings beautifully wrought iron balustrade and marble treads and oak balusters and lavish arguments derived from all kinds of different stars it's a bit of Persia that a Romanesque architecture classic eclecticism right back and it's lovely beautiful place the Rookery what's next we're going in the Monadnock building m'kay Susan we're really downtown now why do they call the building the Monadnock building it's named after a mountain in New England okay okay it looks like a mountain doesn't it pretty tall how tall is it 16 stories it was designed by Bernie moonroof same architect as the Rookery Oh but considerably different yeah really there's no ornament on this one actually no applied ornament it takes its shape from the building itself with a wonderful Flair at the top and a flared base that is feet thick yeah six feet thick and there's a reason for that because it's a load-bearing wall gotcha so you've got sixteen stories worth of masonry all coming straight down that's why it's so why don't you tell me about the material it was then is it originally meant to be this dark brown it's a dark brown today it was originally more of a reddish orange but restoration technology has not quite reached the point yet where it can be clean Saturday yeah you cannot Sam oh no that would destroy the prayer would ruin it yeah how about the interiors have they been redone oh and they're beautiful the owner has done a magnificent job of restoring the entire a well we'll see them some other time what's the reliance building the reliance building I've heard of that one yes Susan why this building well what you're looking at is a jewel in the rough because you have to look past the 50s remodeling and the signage and the fire escapes and the pigeons what is really a very eloquent steel frame building design in 1894 by D H Burnham yeah if you look towards the top half of the building it really does come through it's a gorgeous design I've never seen so much glass it's a hundred years old and it's a curtain wall building that is glass and glazed terracotta that was virtually washable so excuse me but for it to be a curtain wall building that means you've got a steel frame inside that's correct that's pretty revolutionary for under your building yeah and what are the materials that were the white material is that white place terracotta so it should be maintenance-free but it's pretty grungy I know yeah tired looking but hopefully we've got somebody to restore it would be a shame to lose it the reliance building yeah very nice now what's last Carson Pirie Scott Carson Pirie Scott so Susan this is a department store designed by Louis Sullivan in 1903 and one of Chicago's foremost Chicago school building what is particularly significant about it is its interior steel frame reflected on the exterior in that wonderful grid pattern the grade of the facade yeah if you really look at the facade it could have been designed last week yeah then the grid forms something called Chicago window fix pain with operable sash on either side the granddaddy of the picture window that we see all over the sunrise I didn't know that yeah let's talk about the the facade at the bottom two levels is that all cast-iron are my Amish are diamonds is totally original derived from nature and not from history and it is design to frame the beautiful merchandise of the departments


6 thoughts on “19th-Century Chicago Architecture – Bob Vila

  1. Seeing the Rookery and the Reliance Building in that awful shape compared to today is really something. And State Street is still in its ill-fated pedestrian mall configuration. They REALLY cleaned the Loop up since this this was filmed. It looks like a total disaster here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *