Thursday, September 16, 2010

top 40 buildings in chicago

chicago magazine recently released their list of the top 40 buildings in chicago. i was happy to see some of my favorites on the list. a few of them being:

the reliance building by daniel burnham, john root and charles atwood (#13)

crown hall by mies van der rohe(#6)

the rookery by daniel burnham and john root, atrium by frank lloyd wright (#2)

the farnsworth house by mies van der rohe (#9)
Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House
(although, can it still be considered a building in chicago if it's technically in plano, il??)

and a most recent favorite, aqua by studio gang architects (#22).
Aqua Tower by karla kaulfuss

when i moved to chicago the summer of 2005, a mere two months after graduating high school, i fell head over heels for this city's architecture. it probably helped that i was taking a class called chicago architecture. i loved that class. it consisted mostly of classroom lecture (which might be boring for some people, but being an architecture nerd, i was totally fine with it). however, most days we ended class with a walk to one of the buildings we had just learned about (this was easily done since my school and most of the prominent chicago buildings are located in the loop). i quickly discovered how important it is to actually experience these great works of architecture instead of just looking at slides of them on an overhead projector. after all, these buildings are meant to be used. they are meant to be lived in. they have function (or at least they are supposed to). i cannot tell you how amazing it is to listen to a lecture about the monadnock building while standing across the street from the monadnock building.

and just like every other art and design history class i have taken, learning about each piece allowed me to respect the "ugly" pieces. for example, most people look at 330 n. wabash and see a boring "black box" building with no character and no personality.

most people walk past and completely ignore it. they would rather look at the beautiful trump tower across the street (don't get me wrong, the trump tower is a beautiful structure, designed by the great architecture firm SOM). but once you realize that 330 n. wabash was designed by mies van der rohe, i would hope that you would think twice. once you understand his design aesthetic (ever heard of form follows function?) you understand now why there is no real ornamentation (technically, there is still some ornamentation, but that's a whooole 'nother discussion for a different time..). you understand why you can see all of the structural i-beams of the building. you just get it.

i'm still amazed that i get to live in this beautiful city. i'm greeted every morning by its gorgeous skyline. when the brown line curves between the armitage and sedgwick stops, and the city opens itself before me, my heart skips a beat and i can't help but smile while thinking to myself, "damn, i love this city."

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