The detailed ornament at the Field Museum is as foreign to us as its Classsical inspiration. Our currently popular architectural "style" revels in self-concious simplicity. This might be, simply, a matter of time. We have neither the time to conceive and implement non-functional decoration nor the time to appreciate it. How many times have I been to the Field and never noticed the Greek Key patterned onto the chandeliers? Where would you find the artist to design the Lion's Head medallion. Or the blossomed column capital?
Where too, would you find an Architect whose vision of a building is that it is first and foremost a part and a place in the City? That a building has a responsibility to the "whole." And while we all talk "Daniel Burnham" it was the Architect of the Field Museum, Peirce Anderson, who for 25 years carried out Burnham's principles in form and function. And for those 25 years understood full well, that Ornament, even when applied to buildings of the grandest scale, gave reason to pause, and contemplate both the building itself and our own place within.
CHICAGO PHOTOS are available for purchase at Images in the Loop