The former Talman Federal Savings building, a Southwest Side midcentury modernist structure designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, has been demolished.
Its expected replacement? An LA Fitness health club.
It's a sad end to a neighborhood building that not only stood on the corner of 55th and Kedzie, but also occupied the intersection of Chicago architecture and history.
Talman Federal began in 1922 at the kitchen table of 29-year-old Ben Bohac, living at 51st and Talman. By 1955, Bohac's enterprise was one of the state's most successful savings and loan associations, with enough money and clout to hire a blue-chip architecture firm like Skidmore Owings & Merrill to design the new building. The design won a certificate of merit award from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1957.
The building is gone now, along with an addition and parking and banking annex across Kedzie. Photographer Martin Gonzalez documented Talman's demise last month. His photo above looks northwest, across the ruins to the former entry lobby in the background.
I spent the weekend eyeballing the three final submissions for Northwestern University's highly-publicized architectural bake-off to build the school's new biomedical research facility.
The finalists include three Chicago firms: Goettsch Partners is working with Philadelphia company Ballinger; Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture is partnered with Payette from
Boston; and Perkins and Will is going at it alone.
To make way for the building, dubbed the Feinberg School of Medicine Medical Research Center, architect Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital is being torn down.
The winning design will be built in two phases. Construction of the 600,000 sq ft first phase is expected to begin in 2015. The space would then double — and the lab tower would grow substantially, as the Goettsch/Ballinger rendering above shows — in a planned second stage.
So what can we make of all this?
One look at the submissions shows why the university never would have reused the old Prentice building.
The above clip is of track-and-field hero Jesse Owens appearing as a mystery guest on an August 1960 episode of the game show What's My Line?
It's good to see this, particularly in light of the Chicago Public School's decision this week to reinstate Owens' name at a West Pullman neighborhood school. His daughters led the fight that forced the system to restore the school's name.
In a century of heroes, Owens was one of the top. Not only for his athletic powess, but for the meaning of those four gold medals he won at the 1936 Berlin Olympics—something What's My Line?'s exceedingly erudite host John Daly summed up nicely: "...he did it in 1936 and rammed each one of them down the throat of Adolf Hitler."
Owens is about 47 here. I got a kick out of seeing him speak and nailing the show's trademark post-game repartee with the panelists. And the suit is pretty sharp too. Almost a quarter century after his victories in Berlin, he was still a pretty big deal.
When Daly references Owens "back home" that, of course, would be Chicago. He moved here in 1949 and remained until his death in 1980. He's buried in a beautiful spot by one of the lakes at Oak Woods Cemetery on the city's South Side.