Saturday, March 7, 2009

Next Stop. Union Station

In 1901, as construction proceeded on Marshall Field & Company at State and Randolph, Louis Sullivan wrote "It seems that not so long ago, in fact I might say quite recently, a group of ancient Romans by some miracle of cadaverous introspection became resurect and incarnate as of yore in the very proper form itself." (From Kindergarten Chats, available from Dover Press. Universally and highly recommended). Our beloved Sullivan found himself suffocating in the Glory of Rome. (See Post dated February 27. MARSHALL FIELD.Columns!)

It seems that Chicago has two hearts. One that holds close the traditions and philosophy of the Chicago School of Architecture and another that allows Classicism a very special place in the City. Icons of downtown Chicago are the Field Museum and its axis on Lake Shore Drive; the foot of LaSalle Street where identical Roman Temples flank the Board of Trade Building, Union Station, the Strauss Building, the great Michigan Avenue Wall, and Marshall Field and Co. The White City still stirs imagination. And yet, what loss is more regretted than Sullivan's Stock Exchange?

My next several posts will be Observations on Chicago's UNION STATION. My only regret is that it is only half there. Like Sullivan, Anderson's architecture has seen the effect of time. I intend, when my work at the Station is complete, to walk across the Loop, sit on the veranda of the Auditorium, ponder how Gehry affects Burnham, if Mestrovic's Indians are friend or foe, and if the Bridge, over there, on the other side of the Art Institute will find itself a graceful end.

Even an Architect needs a sense of humor.

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