WBEZ | midcentury modern http://www.wbez.org/tags/midcentury-modern Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Redevelopment plans put jazzy 1950s ex-hospital on the terminal list http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-12/redevelopment-plans-put-jazzy-1950s-ex-hospital-terminal-list-104575 <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/_C263570.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The former Cuneo Hospital building reminds me of jazz. Moreso than any other structure in the city.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Like jazz, the elliptically-shaped building has a free-form energy. Curves, rectangles, solids and voids meet each other at will. The front of the building, which faces Montrose and Clarendon, looks nothing like the rear or the north sides of the structure. Yet a visual rhythm--a beat, if you will--keeps it all together.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Built in 1957, the shuttered modernist hospital might soon face music of a different sort, however. Developers seek to raze the building and its otherworldly 1970s addition to build a $220 million high rise and retail development on the site. The proposed development--replacing a previous developer&#39;s unpopular three-tower $350 million 2011 proposal--is making its way through community meetings in the area.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The renderings of the new project designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture look pretty good--but more on that later. For now, let&#39;s walk around the old complex as <em>Take Five </em>by the Dave Brubeck Quartet<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmDDOFXSgAs"> plays in your other browser window:</a></div><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/_C263673.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 473px;" title="" /><br /><div class="image-insert-image ">Originally a hospital for women and children, Cuneo Memorial Hospital is the work of architect Edo J. Belli of the firm Belli &amp; Belli, an outfit that designed a range of modernist schools and hospitals for the Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese in the 1950s and 1960s. Cuneo was built for $2 million by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart order.</div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><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/_C263637.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 576px;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Dig that roof line!</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/_C263527_0.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 562px;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The rear of the hospital opens up to provide views of Clarendon Park in the foreground.</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/_C263666.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 360px;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</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/_C263606.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 646px;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</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/_C263689.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 619px;" title="" /><br /><div class="image-insert-image ">And the later addition, linked to the older building by a skybridge over Clarendon:<br /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/_C263696.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 401px;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The hospital closed in 1988 and was later the home of Columbus Maryville Academy children&#39;s shelter which, in turn, shut its doors in 2005, leaving the three acre site vacant.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Here&#39;s a view of the new project:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><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/image640x480.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cuneo&#39;s fate has prompted some chatter in the preservation community, but not much. The organization Preservation Chicago put the 1957 building on its &quot;Chicago 7&quot; <a href="http://www.preservationchicago.org/userfiles/file/2012_C7_Cuneo%20Hospital_Final.pdf">most-endangered list</a> for 2012 and urged the structure&#39;s reuse.</div></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 05:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-12/redevelopment-plans-put-jazzy-1950s-ex-hospital-terminal-list-104575 Students make it their mission to preserve mid-century architecture http://www.wbez.org/content/students-make-it-their-mission-preserve-mid-century-architecture <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-16/victory interior.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Student preservationists are scouring Chicago suburbs to find examples of good architecture. They’re documenting all of suburban Cook County, including towns like Berwyn and Cicero that aren’t generally known for cutting-edge modern architecture. At least, not yet.</p><p>Three students and a professor from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago are packed into a car, raring to go.</p><p>They joke they're the "Cicero crew." Their mission? To locate and survey every piece of religious, educational and commercial architecture from the 1930s to the 1970s.</p><p>"It’s definitely interesting that everybody’s idea of Cicero is crime, corruption and Capone. We want them to think of culture," says<span style="font-weight: bold;"> </span>Dan O’Brien, the driver. Emily Wallrath enters the data. Charlie Pipal teaches historic preservation. Deb Carey is the navigator. She pulls out a map.</p><p>"It’s the wrong way," Carey says.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-16/RS4732_tour participants-scr.JPG" style="width: 374px; height: 281px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Emily Wallrath and Dan O'Brien debate over whether to include a church. (Photo by Lynette Kalsnes)">"Typical," O'Brien says. "That’s something we’ve learned, there’s so many one-way streets."</p><p>"But we’re not afraid of an alley," Wallrath says.</p><p>"We’ll do alleys," Carey agrees.</p><p>Their instructor, Charlie Pipal, says people know of stellar buildings from the era like Inland Steel or the Hancock Building.&nbsp; But he says they're much less familiar are the mid-century fire stations, schools, motels and even neon signs these students are identifying. So far, Pipal says, over the past six years, students have surveyed more than 50 communities, and at least 1,700 buildings. All of that work can be <a href="http://www.landmarksil.org/recentpastsurvey.htm">viewed online</a> at Landmarks Illinois.</p><p>"This is an aspect of an architecture that’s slowly but surely vanishing from the metro area that we live in, so it’s nice we’re documenting it and hopefully we’re building some sort of constituency for the preservation of these buildings," Pipal says.</p><p>"This period of architecture is also kind of a love it or hate it type thing," says Jim Peters, who started the <a href="http://www.landmarksil.org/recentpastsurvey.htm">Recent Past Survey</a>. He’s the former head of Landmarks Illinois.<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-16/RS4718_victory crying room-scr.jpg" style="width: 200px; height: 300px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="The triangular windows in the crying room at Victory Outreach Church. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)"></p><p>"For as many people who loved the 1950s, 60s, there are an equal number who say I didn’t like it when it was built, and I’m glad it’s going to be demolished."</p><p>Peters says he was struck to realize how many suburbs think that only their old buildings are important. But he says the story of the suburbs is what happened after World War II. That’s when the baby boom hit, interstates grew up, and people flocked to the 'burbs. Peters says that led to new styles of buildings to reflect the abundant land, and different materials like glass walls and steel instead of stone and wood.</p><p>Yet students often encounter people who are puzzled as to why <em>anyone</em> is interested in preserving these buildings.</p><p>"That’s always a challenge," Peters says. "We had that challenge as preservationists with Art Deco architecture. We had that challenge with Victorian. It wasn’t that long ago the movie <em>Psycho</em> in the 1950s came out and the hideous house was the Victorian house on the hill."</p><p>First up for the students is Victory Outreach Church of Chicagoland, formerly St. Attracta. It’s in the middle of a neighborhood, surrounded by bungalows. The roofline looks like a bunch of conjoined W’s.</p><p>"It’s just kind of tucked away, and then it hits you: bam," Carey says.</p><p>"It’s fabulous," Pipal says.</p><p>"Ooh, we can go inside," Wallrath says.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-16/RS4730_tour our lady of charity-scr.JPG" style="margin-left: 8px; margin-right: 8px; margin-top: 8px; margin-bottom: 8px; float: left; width: 350px; height: 263px; " title="Our Lady of Charity may get added to the list. (Photo by Lynette Kalsnes)">A maintenance worker for the church, Christian Thompson, turns on the lights so they can see better. The ceiling looks like the inside of a shell.</p><p>"Whoa!"</p><p>Thompson is visibly proud of his church.</p><p>"For something that is 51 years old, the architecture is so modern. It’s amazing," he says. "They had vision at the time."</p><p>The students head to other destinations: schools, a bar, another church. They drive by a storefront they’d wanted to document. Wallrath is distressed.</p><p>"When we started the survey, that was all glass, and now it’s all boarded up," Wallrath says. "Maybe they’re replacing the glass, maybe they’re not taking them out entirely. It’s those little details that once they’re lost, no one will ever know that was ever there."</p><p>She says that’s why it’s essential to act now; they never know what a building owner might do the next day.</p></p> Tue, 20 Dec 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/students-make-it-their-mission-preserve-mid-century-architecture Midcentury fans push for people to live glass houses http://www.wbez.org/content/midcentury-fans-push-people-live-glass-houses <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-23/Minsk House 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>You don’t have to look very hard to see Chicago’s tradition of midcentury modern architecture. A Mies here, a Frank Lloyd Wright there; we’re lousy with ‘em. Classics like Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City are on full display in the city (and through January, in <a href="http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/exhibition/bertrandgoldberg">a marvelous exhibit</a> in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing that is the architect’s first retrospective).</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-23/Minsk House 1.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 260px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="The Minsk House in Riverwoods, Ill. (Dan Obermaier)">But for every IBM building there are a number of smaller gems scattered throughout the region: private homes, many if not most of which are in the suburbs.</p><p>Gary Gand founded the group <a href="http://www.chicagobauhausbeyond.org/">Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond</a> to document and preserve the architectural heritage of these homes, and he and his family practice what they preach. He and his wife, Joan, live in the <a href="http://jetsetmodern.com/keck.htm">Minsk House</a>, a low glass box of a home in Riverwoods, Ill. The house was built in 1955 by Chicago architects Keck &amp; Keck, best known for their contributions to the Century of Progress World's Fair, the <a href="http://houseplansllc.wordpress.com/category/round-houses/">House of Tomorrow</a> and the <a href="http://housing.progressivedisclosure.net/categories/homes/history-prefabricated-home/keck-crystal-house-george-fred-keck-1933-1934.html">Crystal House</a>.</p><p>When Gand spoke at the Chicago Architecture Foundation last year, he was there to celebrate the release of Bauhaus and Beyond’s first publication: <a href="http://www.chicagobauhausbeyond.org/news.htm">a book of Chicago Midcentury homes</a> captured by legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman. And in the talk as in the book, Gand’s own home was very much on display. During the talk Gand described “what it’s like to live in a glass box” (answer: “We love it”) and explained why, when they moved in, they had to buy all new furniture to match the house. You can listen above.</p><p><em><a href="../../series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Gary Gand spoke at an event presented by the </em><em><a href="http://caf.architecture.org/"><em>Chicago Architecture Foundation</em></a></em><em>in June of 2010. Click </em><em><a href="../../episode-segments/julius-shulman-chicago-mid-century-modernism"><em>here </em></a></em><em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Fri, 23 Sep 2011 19:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/midcentury-fans-push-people-live-glass-houses Ask Lee Bey: A question about the architecture and history of Pill Hill http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/ask-lee-bey-question-about-architecture-and-history-pill-hill <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="482" height="342" alt="" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//6190543.jpg" class="size-full wp-image-26921 " /> <br /><em>(photo by Lee Bey)<code> </code> </em></p><p>I got a note a few days ago from reader Gaylon Alcaraz. She asks: <em>&quot;Lee....what do you know about the Pill Hill area beyond the fact that doctors and lawyers live there? The homes are very &quot;Californian&quot; to me, with slanted roofs and just very unique designs. Do you know any history behind the development of the neighborhood?</em><!--break--> </p><p>Gaylon's right. The Pill Hill subdivision of the Calumet Heights neighborhood on the city's South Side is one of the more remarkable Postwar efforts to build an architecturally modern, suburban style subdivision within city limits. Another example is <a target="_blank" href="http://www.marynook.com/">Marynook</a>, about 10 minutes northwest of Pill Hill, an area we'll look at later this summer.&sbquo;&nbsp; Pill Hill is bordered by 91st, 93rd, Stony Island and Jeffrey. Let's take a look around: </p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="252" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//61905482.jpg" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-27266" alt="" /> <br /><em>(photo by Lee Bey)</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="424" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//61905631.jpg" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-27267" alt="" /> <br /><em>(photo by Lee Bey)</em></p><p>Researching the community was surprisingly tough, though. Let's begin with what we know. Pill Hill was largely built between 1954 and 1967 and sits on a prehistoric limestone ridge (there was a quarry south of 93rd and east of Stony prior to the neighborhood's construction). An upper class subset of the Calumet Heights neighborhood, the area's nickname comes from number of doctors from nearby South Chicago Hospital&sbquo;&nbsp; (now Advocate Trinity Hospital) who once lived there. But the enclave and the surrounding neighborhood were known by more than one name, depending on who was asked. Media reports of the time called Calumet Heights &quot;South Shore Valley&quot; (which I kind of like), &quot;South Shore Heights&quot; and &quot;Stony Island Heights.&quot; Pill Hill was called &quot;South Shore Heights on the Hill,&quot; &quot;South Shore Hills&quot; and also &quot;Stony Island Heights.&quot; </p><p>The neighborhood was pricey from the start, with an early 1960s Tribune story clocking prices between $30,000 and $100,000, even more. With that kind of dough in the game, the unique location and the popularity of &quot;California Living&quot;-type home design magazines, it's easy to see how Pill Hill wound up being a collection of pretty nice-looking residential modernism---scaled down to the confines of a city block. </p><p style="text-align: left;">And there was a sense from the start that the homes would be cutting edge. A 7 room, 3 bedroom tri-level model house at 1630 E. 92nd St was noted at the time for being an all-electric home--one of the few being built in the city. It's all here: wildly-pitched roofs, ground-hugging homes, Pop Art shapes and wicked topiary.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="500" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//6190547.jpg" class="size-full wp-image-26925 " alt="" /> <br /><em>(photo by Lee Bey)</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="300" height="155" alt="" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//61905583-300x155.jpg" class="size-medium wp-image-27202" /> <br /><em>(photo by Lee Bey)</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="512" height="428" alt="" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//6190568.jpg" class="size-full wp-image-26927 aligncenter" /><code> <br /></code><em>(photo by Lee Bey)</em></p><p style="text-align: left;">Then my trail got cold. I've yet to locate the architect(s) , or much of anything about the builders other than they were an outfit called Matela-Boyle Construction. The only other reference I could find on the firm was the Matela-Boyle Building located on Yates somewhere and designed by an architect I <em>must</em> find out more about, if only for his name: Louis Sullivan Jacobs. Did Jacobs design some of the houses at Pill Hill? Possible, but unlikely. He went on to design industrial buildings. </p><p style="text-align: left;">So the hunt will continue. Meanwhile, do you know something? Comment below. I've got a few reader questions like this one that I'll be answering in upcoming weeks . If you've got a question about a building or place in Chicago, send it to me at lee@leebey.com and I'll see if I can answer it.</p></p> Tue, 22 Jun 2010 08:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/ask-lee-bey-question-about-architecture-and-history-pill-hill