Going, going, gone? Works by Gropius and Mies in Chicago?

    Chicago's plan to tear down valuable buildings designed with the involvement of Walter Gropius, and a work by Mies van der Rohe, reminded me of

    this editorial cartoon by Jacob Burck in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1953.

    Reprinted in "Preservation and Renewal in Post-World War II Chicago," by Daniel Bluestone in a 1994 issue of the Journal of Architectural Education.

    In the article Bluestone talks about the threats to Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House in 1957, and the lost battle to save Louis Sullivan's Garrick Theater.

    He talks of the push to generate awareness of Chicago's great architectural legacy, as seen in this proclamation by Richard I - current Mayor Richard M. Daley's father, Richard J. Daley. Perhaps the son could learn from this and offer the buildings a reprieve? - for Chicago Dynamic Week in August 1957:
    "WHEREAS, Chicago is the birthplace of American architecture, the curtain wall building, which ushered in the age of the skyscraper; and WHEREAS, Chicago today is concerned with the continued use of the newest building forms, materials and techniques to make Chicago a better place in which to live and work; and WHEREAS, the Chicago Dynamic Committee comprising our community's business and civic leaders has been organized to honor the sound building and far-sighted planning of Chicago, the world's most dynamic city ... I Richard J. Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago, do hereby proclaim the week of October 27 through November 2, as 'Chicago Dynamic Week."'
    Frank Lloyd Wright, Alistair Cooke, and Carl Sandburg
    during a Chicago Dynamic Week television appearance.
    (Photo by the Chicago Sun-Times.)

    More than half a century later we're still fighting the good fight.

    A little history, from Daniel Bluestone:
    Beyond the Robie House campaign and Wright and Sandburg's personification of history during Chicago Dynamic Week, the first formal public recognition of Chicago landmarks came in 1957. In January, the Chicago City Council unanimously passed an ordinance sponsored by Alderman (Leon) Despres establishing the Commission on Chicago Architectural Landmarks. The ordinance called attention to Chicago's "internationally important monuments of architectural engineering and style" and cited six buildings as examples: Richardson's Glessner House, Sullivan's World's Fair residence, his Carson,Pirie, Scott store, and his Auditorium Theater, Wright's Robie House, and Burnham & Root's Monadnock Building.

    The ordinance also called attention to the need for landmark preservation by pointing to the earlier demolition of Richardson's Marshall Field Warehouse and Wright's Midway Gardens. The Council charged the commission with designating Chicago's architectural landmarks, identifying and marking them, educating the public about their importance, and developing policies for their preservation.

    Like the juxtaposition of heritage and contemporary visions for architecture and city building that characterized Chicago Dynamic programs, the first official list of architectural landmarks included both historic and contemporary structures. The six major Chicago School monuments featured on a special architectural tour during Chicago Dynamic week-the Rookery, Monadnock, Leiter, Auditorium, Carson, Pirie, Scott store, and the Reliance- were among the fourteen structures singled out for special recognition on the Commission's initial list of thirty-nine landmark buildings.

    The list, drawn up by a committee of architectural historians,architects,and commission members, included numerous structures by Adler & Sullivan and Burnham & Root and other buildings considered to have a role in the local modernist genealogy. Then, to complete the links to the present, the Commission designated such buildings as George and William Keck's University Avenue residence (1937), Mies's Illinois Institute of Technology campus (1947) and Lake Shore Drive apartments (1951), and S.O.M.'s Inland Steel Building (1957).

    The Commission's designation offered no protection for the landmarks, but it established architectural "merit,""structure,"and "planning" as the criteria for a new aesthetically based landmarks program. For post-World War II city planners, the clean, crisp lines of modernism had an obvious allure in an otherwise stagnant cityscape.

    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2009/04/going-going-gone-works-by-gropius-and.html
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