The buildings and architecture of Chicago have influenced and reflected the history of American architecture. The built environment of Chicago is reflective of the city's history and multicultural heritage, featuring prominent buildings in a variety of styles by many important architects. Since most structures within the downtown area were destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 (the most famous exception being the Water Tower) Chicago buildings are noted for their originality rather than their antiquity.
Chicago is world-famous for its plethora of unique architectural styles, from Chicago Bungalows and Two-Flats to the grand Graystones along Logan Boulevard and Lawndale Avenue, from the skyscrapers of the Loop as well as a wealth of sacred architecture such as the city's ornate "Polish Cathedrals".
Beginning in the early 1880s, architectural pioneers of the Chicago School explored steel-frame construction and, in the 1890s, the use of large areas of plate glass. These were among the first modern skyscrapers. William LeBaron Jenney's Home Insurance Building was completed in 1885 and is considered to be the first to use steel in its structural frame instead of cast iron. However, this building was still clad in heavy brick and stone. The Montauk Building, designed by John Wellborn Root Sr. and Daniel Burnham, was built from 1882 to 1883 using structural steel. Daniel Burnham and his partners, John Welborn Root and Charles Atwood, designed technically advanced steel frames with glass and terra cotta skins in the mid-1890s, in particular the Reliance Building; these were made possible by professional engineers, in particular E. C. Shankland, and modern contractors, in particular George A. Fuller.
Louis Sullivan was perhaps the city's most philosophical architect. Realizing that the skyscraper represented a new form of architecture, he discarded historical precedent and designed buildings that emphasized their vertical nature. This new form of architecture, by Jenney, Burnham, Sullivan, and others, became known as the "Commercial Style," but it was called the "Chicago School" by later historians.
Since 1963, a "Second Chicago School" emerged from the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. The ideas of structural engineer Fazlur Khan were also influential in this movement, in particular his introduction of a new structural system of framed tubes in skyscraper design and construction. The first building to apply the tube-frame construction was the DeWitt-Chestnut Apartment Building which Khan designed and was completed in Chicago by 1966. This laid the foundations for the tube structures of many other later skyscrapers, including his own constructions of the John Hancock Center and Willis Tower (then named the Sears Tower) in Chicago and can be seen in the construction of the World Trade Center, Petronas Towers, Jin Mao Building, and most other supertall skyscrapers since the 1960s. Willis Tower would be the world's tallest building from its construction in 1974 until 1998 (when the Petronas Towers was built) and would remain the tallest for some categories of buildings until the Burj Khalifa was completed in early 2010.
Numerous architects have constructed landmark buildings of varying styles in Chicago. Among them are the so-called "Chicago seven": James Ingo Freed, Tom Beeby, Larry Booth, Stuart Cohen, James Nagle, Stanley Tigerman, and Ben Weese. Daniel Burnham led the design of the "White City" of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition which some historians claim led to a revival of Neo-Classical architecture throughout Chicago and the entire United States. It is true that the "White City" represented anything other than its host city's architecture. While Burnham did develop the 1909 "Plan for Chicago", perhaps the first comprehensive city plan in the U.S, in a Neo-Classical style, many of Chicago's most progressive skyscrapers occurred after the Exposition closed, between 1894 and 1899. Louis Sullivan said that the fair set the course of American architecture back by two decades, but even his finest Chicago work, the Schlesinger and Meyer (later Carson, Pirie, Scott) store, was built in 1899—five years after the "White City" and ten years before Burnham's Plan.
Sullivan's comments should be viewed in the context of his complicated relationship with Burnham. Erik Larson's history of the Columbian Exposition, The Devil in the White City, correctly points out that the building techniques developed during the construction of the many buildings of the fair were entirely modern, even if they were adorned in a way Sullivan found aesthetically distasteful.
City sculptures additionally honor the many people and topics reflecting the rich history of Chicago. There are monuments to:
There are also preliminary plans to erect a 1:1-scale replica of Wacław Szymanowski's Art Nouveau statue of Frédéric Chopin found in Warsaw's Royal Baths along Chicago's lakefront in addition to a different sculpture commemorating the artist in Chopin Park for the 200th anniversary of Frédéric Chopin's birth.
In the 21st century, Chicago has become a leading urban focus for landscape architecture, and the architecture of public places. Building on 19th-20th century legacies of architects such as, Burnham, Frederick Olmstead, Jens Jensen and Alfred Caldwell, modern projects include Millennium Park, Northerly Island, the 606, the Chicago Riverwalk, Maggie Daley Park, and proposals in Jackson Park (Chicago).
Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School influenced both building design and the design of furnishings. In the early half of the 20th century, popular residential neighborhoods were developed with Chicago Bungalow style houses, many of which still exist. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Chicago influenced the later Modern or International style. Van der Rohe's work is sometimes called the Second Chicago School.
Many organizations, notably Preservation Chicago and Landmarks Illinois are devoted to promoting the preservation of historic neighborhoods and buildings in Chicago. Chicago has suffered from the same problems with sinking property values and urban decline as other major cities. Many historic structures have been threatened with demolition.
1940 to the present:
Chicago architects used many design styles and belonged to a variety of architectural schools. Below is a list of those styles and schools.
Aqua is an 82-story mixed-use residential skyscraper in the Lakeshore East development in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Designed by a team led by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, with James Loewenberg of Loewenberg & Associates as the Architect of Record, it includes five levels of parking below ground. The building's eighty-story, 140,000 sq ft (13,000 m2) base is topped by a 82,550 sq ft (7,669 m2) terrace with gardens, gazebos, pools, hot tubs, a walking/running track and a fire pit. Each floor covers approximately 16,000 sq ft (1,500 m2). The Aqua was awarded the Emporis Skyscraper Award as 2009 skyscraper of the year, and was shortlisted in 2010 for the biennial International Highrise Award. In celebration of the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial, Aqua was selected as one of the Illinois 200 Great Places by the American Institute of Architects Illinois component (AIA Illinois) and was recognized by USA Today Travel magazine, as one of AIA Illinois' selections for Illinois 25 Must See Places.Carl W. Condit
Carl Wilbur Condit (Cincinnati, Ohio, September 29, 1914 – January 4, 1997) was an American historian of urban and architectural history, a writer, professor, and teacher.
He was professor at Northwestern University 1945–82. He wrote numerous books and articles on the history of American building, especially Chicago, Cincinnati, and the Port of New York. He founded the History of Science Department at Northwestern University, where he taught for over 30 years. His research specialty was the architecture of Chicago, Illinois, and he lived in Chicago most of his life, having moved there in 1945 in order to study its urban and technological development.Charles Sumner Frost
Charles Sumner Frost (May 31, 1856 – December 11, 1931) was an American architect. He is best known as the architect of Navy Pier and for designing over 100 buildings for the Chicago and North Western Railway.Chicago Water Tower
The Chicago Water Tower is a contributing property and landmark in the Old Chicago Water Tower District in Chicago, Illinois, United States, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Chicago school (architecture)
Chicago's architecture is famous throughout the world and one style is referred to as the Chicago School. Much of its early work is also known as Commercial style. In the history of architecture, the first Chicago School was a school of architects active in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. They were among the first to promote the new technologies of steel-frame construction in commercial buildings, and developed a spatial aesthetic which co-evolved with, and then came to influence, parallel developments in European Modernism. A "Second Chicago School" with a modernist aesthetic emerged in the 1940s through 1970s, which pioneered new building technologies and structural systems such as the tube-frame structure.Dearborn Station
Dearborn Station (also referred to as Polk Street Station) was the oldest of the six intercity train stations serving downtown Chicago, Illinois. It currently serves as office retail and entertainment space. Located at Dearborn and Polk Streets, adjacent to Printers Row, the station was owned by the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, which itself was owned by the companies operating over its line. The station now houses a shopping mall.Henry Ives Cobb
Henry Ives Cobb (August 19, 1859 – March 27, 1931) was an architect from the United States. Based in Chicago in the last decades of the 19th century, he was known for his designs in the Richardsonian Romanesque and Victorian Gothic styles.Illinois Institute of Technology
Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech or IIT) is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. It was established from the merger in 1940 of Armour Institute and Lewis Institute. The university has programs in engineering, science, psychology, architecture, business, communications, industrial technology, information technology, design and law. It traces its history to several 19th-century engineering and professional education institutions in the United States. The Institute of Design, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Midwest College of Engineering were also merged into it.John Hancock Center
875 North Michigan Avenue, built as and still commonly referred to as the John Hancock Center, is a 100-story, 1,128-foot supertall skyscraper located in Chicago, Illinois. Located in the Magnificent Mile district, its name was changed to 875 North Michigan Avenue on February 12, 2018.
It was constructed under the supervision of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, with chief designer Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Khan. When the building topped out on May 6, 1968, it was the second-tallest building in the world and the tallest outside New York City. It is currently the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the ninth-tallest in the United States, after One World Trade Center, the Willis Tower, 432 Park Avenue, the Trump Tower Chicago, the Empire State Building, the Bank of America Tower, 30 Hudson Yards and the Aon Center. When measured to the top of its antenna masts, it stands at 1,500 feet (457 m). The building is home to several offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums. It also contains the third-highest residence in the world, after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Trump Tower in Chicago. The building was named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, a developer and original tenant of the building. In 2018, John Hancock Insurance requested that its name be removed and the owner is seeking another naming rights deal.From the 95th floor restaurant, diners can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. The observatory (360 Chicago), which competes with the Willis Tower's Skydeck, has a 360° view of the city, up to four states, and a distance of over 80 miles (130 km). 360 Chicago is home to TILT, a moving platform that leans visitors over the edge of the skyscraper to a 30-degree angle, a full bar with local selections, Chicago's only open-air SkyWalk, and also features free interactive high definition touch screens in six languages. The 44th-floor sky lobby features America's highest indoor swimming pool.List of tallest buildings in Chicago
Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, is home to 1,315 completed high-rises, 44 of which stand taller than 600 feet (183 m). The tallest building in the city is the 108-story Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), which rises 1,451 feet (442 m) in the Chicago Loop and was completed in 1974. Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world from its completion, and remained the tallest building in the United States until May 10, 2013. The second-, third- and fourth-tallest buildings in Chicago are the Trump International Hotel & Tower, the Aon Center and 875 North Michigan Avenue, respectively. Of the ten tallest buildings in the United States, four are located in Chicago. Chicago leads the nation in the twenty tallest women-designed towers in the world, thanks to contributions by Jeanne Gang and Natalie de Blois. As of February 2013, Chicago had 105 buildings at least 500 feet (152 m) tall.Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper. The Home Insurance Building, completed in 1885, is regarded as the world's first skyscraper. This building used the steel-frame method, innovated in Chicago. It was originally built with 10 stories, an enormous height in the 1800s, to a height of 138 feet (42 m), making it the tallest building in the world at that time. It was later expanded to 12 stories with a height of 180 feet (55 m). The building was demolished in 1931. New York City then began building skyscrapers as Chicago had done, and the two cities were virtually the only cities in the world with huge skylines for many decades. Chicago has always played a prominent role in the development of skyscrapers and three past buildings have been the tallest building in the United States. Being the inventor of the skyscraper, Chicago went through a very early high-rise construction boom that lasted from the early 1920s to the late 1930s, during which 11 of the city's 91 tallest buildings were constructed. The city then went through an even larger building boom that has lasted from the early 1960s. The tallest buildings are concentrated in various downtown districts such as the Loop, Streeterville, River North, the South Loop, and the West Loop. Other high-rises extend north along the waterfront into North Side districts such as the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Uptown and Edgewater. Some high-rises also extend south from downtown along the waterfront to South Side districts such as Kenwood, Hyde Park, and South Shore.
Several new skyscrapers were constructed in the city throughout the 2000s, including the Trump International Hotel and Tower. As of August 2016 there were 67 skyscrapers under construction in Chicago.Marina City
Marina City is a mixed-use residential-commercial building complex in Chicago, Illinois, United States, North America, designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg. The multi-building complex opened between 1963 and 1967 and occupies almost an entire city block on State Street on the north bank of the Chicago River on the Near North Side, directly across from the Loop. Portions of the complex were designated a Chicago Landmark in 2016.The complex consists of two 587-foot (179 m), 65-story apartment towers, opened in 1963, which include physical plant penthouses. It also includes a 10-story office building (now a hotel) opened in 1964, and a saddle-shaped auditorium building originally used as a cinema. The four buildings, access driveways, and a small plaza that originally included an ice rink are built on a raised platform next to the Chicago River. Beneath the platform, at river level, is a small marina for pleasure craft, giving the structures their name.Michigan–Wacker Historic District
The Michigan–Wacker Historic District is a National Register of Historic Places District that includes parts of the Chicago Loop and Near North Side community areas in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The district is known for the Chicago River, two bridges that cross it, and eleven high rise and skyscraper buildings erected in the 1920s. Among the contributing properties are the following Chicago Landmark structures:
333 North Michigan
London Guarantee Building (360 North Michigan)
Carbide & Carbon Building (230 North Michigan)
Michigan Avenue Bridge
35 East Wacker
Mather Tower (75 East Wacker)
Tribune Tower (435 North Michigan)
Other notable sites include Pioneer Court the Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite (401 North Michigan), which as the site of Chicago's first permanent residence is a National Historic Landmark, and the Wrigley Building (410 North Michigan). Across the Michigan Avenue Bridge is the former site of Fort Dearborn, the US Army post established in 1803. To the west is the Heald Square Monument, a statue of George Washington and the financiers of the American Revolution.
The district includes contributing properties with addresses on North Michigan Avenue, East Wacker Drive, North Wabash Avenue and East South Water Street. Other streets in the district are Rush Street, Hubbard, Illinois and Kinzie. The majority of these properties are on Michigan, with addresses ranging from 230 North Michigan to 505 North Michigan. The district also includes parts of Michigan, Wacker and East South Water, which are all among the many multilevel streets in Chicago. Most of its contributing high-rise buildings and skyscrapers are of either Gothic or Baroque architecture, in addition to Art Deco. The district is north of the Historic Michigan Boulevard District.
It was listed as on the National Register of Historic Places on November 15, 1978.Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)
The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is located in Chicago, Illinois, in Jackson Park, in the Hyde Park neighborhood between Lake Michigan and The University of Chicago. It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Initially endowed by Julius Rosenwald, the Sears, Roebuck and Company president and philanthropist, it was supported by the Commercial Club of Chicago and opened in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition.
Among the museum's exhibits are a full-size replica coal mine, German submarine U-505 captured during World War II, a 3,500-square-foot (330 m2) model railroad, the command module of Apollo 8, and the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train (Pioneer Zephyr).
David R. Mosena has been president and CEO of the private, non-profit museum since 1998.Optima Signature
Optima Signature (formerly Optima Chicago Center II) is a residential skyscraper in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side area in Chicago. The 57-story building is a joint venture between Optima Inc. and DeBartolo Development. It opened for occupancy in June 2017. The building has 490 units.Tourism in Chicago
Chicago tourism recorded 55 million visitors in 2017.
In 2016, Chicago saw 54.1 million visitors; a 2.9% increase from 2015. In 2015, it was estimated that 50.1 million visitors came to Chicago, which was a 4.5 percent increase from 2014. From 2010 through 2014, the tourism and hospitality industries have added 9,800 jobs, generating $13.7 billion in direct spending by visitors and $871 million in total tax revenue.
In 2017, Millennium Park was the top tourist destination in Chicago and the Midwest, and placed among the top ten in the United States with 25 million visitors that year.Tribune East Tower
Tribune East Tower is a proposed 1,422-foot (433.4 m) mixed use tower on the eastern edge of the Tribune Tower property in the Streeterville area of the Near North Side community areas of Chicago that is currently unnamed. If completed, the skyscraper would become the second-tallest in Chicago.Vista Tower (Chicago)
Vista Tower (formerly known as 375 E. Wacker) is a supertall skyscraper being built in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Plan Commission approved the building on November 19, 2015, in a meeting that also approved the One Grant Park development.Construction started in August 2016 with expected completion in 2020. Upon completion, it will become the city's third-tallest building at 1,198 feet (365 meters). Designed by a team led by architect Jeanne Gang, Vista will supplant the nearby Aqua skyscraper (also designed by a team led by Jeanne Gang) as the tallest structure in the world designed by a woman. This will make Chicago home to the two tallest structures designed by a woman. Vista Tower is a joint project of Magellan Development Group and Wanda Group. The original estimated cost of construction was $900 million.Vivian Maier
Vivian Dorothy Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American street photographer. Maier worked for about forty years as a nanny, mostly in Chicago's North Shore, pursuing photography during her spare time. She took more than 150,000 photographs during her lifetime, primarily of the people and architecture of Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, although she also traveled and photographed worldwide.During her lifetime, Maier's photographs were unknown and unpublished; many of her negatives were never printed. A Chicago collector, John Maloof, acquired some of Maier's photos in 2007, while two other Chicago-based collectors, Ron Slattery and Randy Prow, also found some of Maier's prints and negatives in her boxes and suitcases around the same time. Maier's photographs were first published on the Internet in July 2008, by Slattery, but the work received little response. In October 2009, Maloof linked his blog to a selection of Maier's photographs on the image-sharing website Flickr, and the results went viral, with thousands of people expressing interest. Maier's work subsequently attracted critical acclaim, and since then, Maier's photographs have been exhibited around the world.Her life and work have been the subject of books and documentary films, including the film Finding Vivian Maier (2013), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 87th Academy Awards.Willis Tower
The Willis Tower, built as and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, is a 110-story, 1,450-foot (442.1 m) skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. At completion in 1973, it surpassed the World Trade Center in New York to become the tallest building in the world, a title it held for nearly 25 years; it remained the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until the completion of a new building at the rebuilt World Trade Center site in 2014. Willis Tower is considered a seminal achievement for architect Fazlur Rahman Khan. It is currently the second-tallest building in the United States and the Western hemisphere – and the 16th-tallest in the world. More than one million people visit its observation deck each year, making it one of Chicago's most popular tourist destinations. The structure was renamed in 2009 by the Willis Group as a term of its lease.
As of April 2018, the building's largest tenant is United Airlines, which moved its corporate headquarters from the United Building at 77 West Wacker Drive in 2012, occupying around 20 floors. Other major tenants include the building's namesake Willis Group and law firms Schiff Hardin and Seyfarth Shaw. Morgan Stanley plans to move to the building in 2019 and become its fourth-largest tenant by 2020.
|Selected buildings with|
20 or more floors
| Chicago Landmark skyscrapers|
with 12 or more floors
Architecture of North America
|Late-19th to mid-20th century|
|Post-World War II to current|