BUILDING CHICAGO - LIVE AT THE CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM
Expert Panel Discusses John Zukowsky's Book at the
Chicago History Museum
A new and extraordinary addition to the great body of work about architectural history in Chicago is now available and should have a prominent place in every public and private collection. At just over 300 pages, John Zukowsky’s Building Chicago: The Architectural Masterworks, published by Rizzoli, covers the sweeping history of Chicago with fresh scholarly commentary and hundreds of images – many from the Chicago History Museum’s vast collection.
John Zukowsky, Lee Bey and Rolf Achilles joined the conversation on Thursday, October 20th, 2016 at the national launch of Building Chicago to discuss the evolving landscape of Chicago architecture in the 20th century.
Rolf Achilles on what has influenced Chicago architecture …
“… Chicago was this amazing vacuum that just sucked everything up … It was also the fastest growing city in 1833. There were 350 people here and by 1900 it was 1.5 million. Well, that 1.5 million needed stuff that the 350 did not. So you have 70 mad years, and that’s what you can see … how architecture affects culture but culture affects architecture too.”
Lee Bey on his favorite architect …
“I like modernism … I like the work of Mies van der Rohe … obviously Crown Hall. I like late Mies … Hotel Langham now, the former IBM building … but I like the clarity … how rational the design is.”
John Zukowsky on Chicago and American Modernism …
“What’s interesting to me about Chicago modernism, and it’s true with American modernism … you always think of modernism as being just one solution … in reality it’s about 20 to 30 individual solutions. Every modern building has a different feel and a different look to it … and that’s the same when you look at buildings in Chicago … what I like about that is not just the discipline and rationalism but the variety of expressions that everybody else had around the country.”
Bey on growing the city …
“There are two Chicagos. There’s a central area … Cermak to North Avenue, the lake to Halsted and outside that there’s another Chicago where population loss is happening that we need to fix. We have to grow the city …. the central area is going to be taken care of … but we have to figure out the south and west sides of the city … how to get people there, how to grow the population… put houses, buildings, factories, office buildings, the whole mix in this area.”
Achilles on why other cities have surpassed Chicago …
“They are all using the Chicago tradition to get in to the future, and we’re not in the same way … it’s not the architecture that’s the problem. It’s the socio-economic state. It’s the politicians … those with a semblance of authority that can make the rules, and they’re not making very interesting rules … It’s like in the 1910’s and 1920’s, Chicago imposed a height limit on its buildings because they were scared you couldn’t get out of a building in a fire. Well, New York wasn’t afraid of that and surpassed Chicago. New York becomes ‘skyscraperville’ and Chicago is this ‘little stubby town in the prairies.’”
Zukowsky on who we will be talking about in 100 years …
“I’d include the classics [Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright] … I’d put in pioneers of the 70’s and 80’s Bruce Gray … Stanley Tigerman … Richard Nickel … Harry Weese … Jeanne Gang … I think you’ll also be talking about other architects who built here … We tend to forget about that especially in the 90's. Foreign architects and New York architects were building here … We’ll be talking about Norman Foster [and] the Apple store ... I think he’s a great architect … so it’s great to have something of his work here, no doubt about it.”
Our thanks to the generous sponsors Bulley & Andrews, Eli's Cheesecake, Rizzoli and the Chicago History Museum.
Listen to Entire Podcast HERE
Purchase Building Chicago HERE