WBEZ | modernism http://www.wbez.org/tags/modernism Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Federal Center at 40: Modernist icon hits middle age http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-10/federal-center-40-modernist-icon-hits-middle-age-108918 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PA141035_0.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 874px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Making the rounds this week: <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-12/news/ct-met-kamin-prentice-1013-20131012_1_prentice-women-bertrand-goldberg-prentice-tower">Heartbreaking photos</a> of Northwestern University knocking down the old Prentice Women&#39;s Hospital.</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Seeing a modernist building designed by the late architectural luminary Bertrand Goldberg get cut down before it could turn 40&mdash;Prentice was built in 1975&mdash;is sobering; a dark chapter in the preservation of modernist architecture. And compounding the matter: The SOM-designed former Talman Federal Savings and Loan at 55th and Kedzie is being demolished <em>right now</em>. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-03/mod-corner-gage-park-106356">I wrote six months ago</a> about the need to preserve the Southwest Side postwar building.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But there is one bright spot on the modernist front. Chicago&#39;s Federal Center&mdash;the powerful ensemble of steel-and-glass government buildings at Jackson and Dearborn&mdash;looks spectacular these days.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The General Services Administration has spent tens of millions of dollars in recent years painting and reglazing exteriors, repairing the granite plaza, restoring Alexander Calder&#39;s <em>Flamingo</em> sculpture and more. The 30-story Dirksen Courthouse, the 45-story Kluczynski federal office building and the glass jewel box of a post office building look as good as they did when the center was completed in 1974.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">(...which, incidentally, is more than can be said about 202 and 220 S. State, two skyscrapers from 1915 and 1913. The GSA bought and vacated the buildings post-9/11 to form a security buffer for the Federal Center. But the agency has shamefully let these handsome towers rot.)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But back to Federal Center. Let&#39;s look around.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The restored exteriors showcase how geometrically precise the building are to one another. The lines of one building seem to line-up with those of its neighbor. And at the right time of day, the glassy walls of the U.S. Post Office building reflect the classical architecture of the surrounding city:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PA141043.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 413px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Here&#39;s another view showing the post office building&#39;s transparency:</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PA141058.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The complex was built between 1964 and 1974. Mies van der Rohe was the chief designer of an all-star architectural and engineering team that included firms Schmidt, Garden &amp; Erikson, C.F. Murphy Associates, and A. Epstein &amp; Sons. The Dirksen was completed in 1964, but the post office and the Kluczynski building&mdash;which share a block on the west side of Dearborn between Adams and Jackson&mdash;weren&#39;t finished until 1973 and 1974.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">It&#39;s too bad the old federal building&mdash;architect Henry Ives Cobb&#39;s romantic pile of stone&mdash;was wrecked to make way for the new federal buildings. If only this town had been big enough for both of them...</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Chicago_Federal_Building_circa_1910.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 303px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">A $15 million Federal Center project is being planned for 2014 and few people will see it once it&#39;s complete. The federal General Services Administration wants to build an underground boiler plant and hot water distribution system to serve the complex and adjacent federally-owned buildings.</div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PA141046.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 436px;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 16 Oct 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-10/federal-center-40-modernist-icon-hits-middle-age-108918 JFK airport's futuristic Pan Am terminal meets demolition http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-07/jfk-airports-futuristic-pan-am-terminal-meets-demolition-108020 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dc03f370f7dfc026_landing.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Here&#39;s a sad farewell to the once-futuristic Pan Am Terminal 3: The 53-year-old modernist beauty with an iconic flying saucer-shaped roof is being wrecked at New York&#39;s JFK Airport right now.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Once known as Pan Am&#39;s Worldport Terminal, the structure is being demolished by Delta Airlines, which took over the building after Pan Am went out of business in 1991.The terminal recorded its last flight in May and demolition began last month.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Pan Am terminal was designed by the architecture firms of Tippetts-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton, and Ives, Turano &amp; Gardner. The four-acre overhanging roof doubled as a canopy for passengers who originally walked outdoors from the terminal to board planes. The above photo from <em>Life</em> magazine&#39;s <a href="http://images.google.com/hosted/life">searchable online archives</a> shows the building in operation during its heyday.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Eero Saarinen&#39;s swoopy and superlative <a href="http://www.architizer.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/19671-050-4158A9AB.jpg" target="_blank">TWA terminal</a>&nbsp;was&nbsp;completed at JFK in 1962, throwing a bit of shade on the Pan Am facility. Still, the Pan Am terminal embodied the modernity, swank and outright coolness associated with early jet air travel.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">New York City preservationists unsuccessfully fought to save the terminal and just last month, the National Trust for Historic Places put the building on its &quot;American&#39;s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places&quot; list. But it was to no avail.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The terminal was prominently featured in the short-lived and unwatchable 2011 NBC series<em> Pan Am</em><em>&mdash;</em>and frankly was the best thing on the show:</div><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/EZeVxqRpWMo" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Delta is demolishing the facility to make way for aircraft parking.</p></p> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-07/jfk-airports-futuristic-pan-am-terminal-meets-demolition-108020 Mod Squad Chicago - Chicago at Midcentury: Images by Lee Bey http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mod-squad-chicago-chicago-midcentury-images-lee-bey-106961 <p><p><strong>Lee Bey</strong> has had a distinguished career in the built environment as an architecture critic, mayoral advisor, adjunct professor and civic leader. But he is also a published and exhibited architectural photographer who has documented the city&#39;s mid-century modernist architecture. Bey shared his photography of the city&#39;s modernist architecture and discussed the importance of documenting this unique architectural style. The program was part of Lunch Talks @ CAF, a weekly lecture series that takes place every Wednesday at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAF-webstory_5.jpg" title="" /></p><p>Recorded live March 20, 2013 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.</p></p> Wed, 20 Mar 2013 17:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mod-squad-chicago-chicago-midcentury-images-lee-bey-106961 Oscar Niemeyer, creator of Brasilia's iconic buildings, dies at 104 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-12/oscar-niemeyer-creator-brasilias-iconic-buildings-dies-104-104226 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/oscar neimeyer AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/he4C7gWEpEU" width="601"></iframe></p><p>Oscar Niemeyer, the architect whose stylish and futuristic buildings put the <em>thrill</em> in Brazil&#39;s capital city Brasilia, died Wednesday in a Rio de Janeiro hospital. He was 104.</p><p>Niemeyer&#39;s remained an active architect until the end, with his work spanning nine decades. In addition to buildings in Brasilia, his birth city of Rio de Janeiro, Paris and other locales, Niemeyer also collaborated with fellow greats such as Le Corbusier to design the United Nations headquarters.</p><p><em>The New York Times</em> gives him a good send-off <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/world/americas/oscar-niemeyer-modernist-architect-of-brasilia-dies-at-104.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">in this obituary</a>, but there is more. The above clip from the 1980 BBC television series <em>The Shock of the New</em> takes a critical look at Brasilia, while a 2012 report from Al Jazeera said real estate pressures might reshape the city and negatively affect its iconic modernist structures and site plan:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/hTR7aZPMP-U" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Also, listen to<a href="http://www.npr.org/2010/11/12/131271636/celebrating-niemeyer-brazil-s-modernist-master#commentBlock"> this 2010 <em>All Things Considered</em> interview</a> with Niemeyer.</p></p> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-12/oscar-niemeyer-creator-brasilias-iconic-buildings-dies-104-104226 The modernist suburban bank that pays homage to Mies van der Rohe http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/modernist-suburban-bank-pays-homage-mies-van-der-rohe-102471 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9158558-2.jpg" style="width: 610px; height: 374px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Villa Park&#39;s best known building might be the Odeum Expo Center, where &mdash; in just a matter of weeks, in fact &mdash; you can see &quot;The Greatest Ferret Show on Earth&quot; or experience the largest haunted house in Chicagoland. Take your pick.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But here&#39;s something else worth seeing: an iconic and beautifully-maintained BMO Harris bank at St. Charles Road and Villa Ave., designed by a disciple of architect Mies van der Rohe. Indeed, the midcentury bank&#39;s design was inspired by an unbuilt work by Mies.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Built in 1964 as Villa Park Bank, the flat-roofed, single-story bank has floor-to-ceiling glass walls and an open floor plan. The building is supported by a pair of exposed trusses running parallel to each other across the roof. A drive-up facility was later added (you can see it to the left of the photo above), borrowing on the same architecture and engineering principles as the main building.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />The bank is a spectacular piece of modernism, particularly for a could-be-anywhere business strip with the usual run of fast-food places, dollar stores and the like. The bank was designed by architect Peter Roesch, who studied under Mies at IIT in the 1950s. His scheme for the bank was inspired by an unrealized Indianapolis drive-in restaurant Mies designed for theater chain owner Joseph Cantor in 1946.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Here is a model of that unbuilt restaurant (and, man, do I wish they&#39;d built this):</p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mies-van-der-Rohe-drive-in-drawing-3-610x285.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 280px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The concepts behind the unbuilt restaurant would manifest in full in 1956 with the completion of Mies&#39; world-famous<a href="http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/crown/"> Crown Hall</a> on the IIT campus. There, four visible overhead steel girders attached to eight steel exterior columns support the structure and create open &quot;universal space&quot; inside the glass-walled structure.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Roesch is now 83 and retired. He has vivid memories of designing the bank in Villa Park.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;After it was built, they all thought it was a refreshing new idea and that made it something of a landmark in Villa Park,&quot; he said.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Roesch said the use of trusses was a way to overcome the poor and &quot;trashy&quot; soil conditions on the site. With the building&#39;s weight supported by something akin to a bridge structure that touches the ground in just four points, the expense of drilling numerous caissons through the bad soil was eliminated. Roesch studied Mies&#39; 1946 restaurant as part of his masters&#39; thesis at IIT and said he was able to improve a bit on the four exterior columns to make the design work better.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">He also liked the idea of an all-glass bank.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;The critics said, &#39;What is that all-glass building?&#39; I said &#39;It is a safe bank. You can see inside.&#39; &quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">You can. As this vintage photo shows:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/oldbank.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 220px; " title="" /></div><p>Like Mies, Roesch was born in Germany and was an architect there before moving to the United States.</p><p>&quot;I am a modernist and a minimalist,&quot; he said. &quot;When I got to Mies, my whole life changed. He was the kind of person I thought didn&#39;t exist: He built what he thought. I held on to him and learned from him.&quot;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9158546_0.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" title="" /></p></div><p>Roesch had a long career as an architect and professor at IIT. With his firm Hammond &amp; Roesch in the 1960s, he designed the notable Episcopal Church Center at 65 E. Huron.</p><p>Mies died in 1969, five years after the Villa Park bank was completed. Did the student ever take the master to see his work?</p><p>&quot;I never took him there,&quot; Roesch said with a hint of regret. &quot;I never knew if he saw it on his own. He was a very busy man &mdash; up to the end.&quot;</p><p>Roesch himself hasn&#39;t seen the building in decades. &quot;It&#39;s the same with any good architecture. You have to photograph it the day it was built and keep your fingers crossed,&quot; he said. &quot;I hope they didn&#39;t mess it up.&quot;</p><p>Nope. Not at all.</p></div><p>***</p><p><em>One last thing: A look at<a href="http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3ACL%3AI%3A18&amp;page_number=861&amp;template_id=1&amp;sort_order=1"> the unrealized house</a> Mies designed for Joseph Cantor in 1946.</em></p></p> Tue, 18 Sep 2012 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/modernist-suburban-bank-pays-homage-mies-van-der-rohe-102471