Wednesday, December 2, 2009

DANIEL BURNHAM. The Edison Building ....In the Loggia

The history of Chicago buildings is usually quite clear. And although occupancy and construction dates can vary from source to source, generally, the story isn't too far beneath the surface. The Edison Building, however, seems to have some history. Originally constructed as the Commercial National Bank, it soon thereafter became the Edison Building. It is now occupied by the Chicago Board of Education. This building has ghosts hidden in its extensive remodellings. I imagine Samuel Insull wandering the 21st floor, whistling Puccini and plotting.... And while I'm a dyed-in-the-wool, spot-on, on-message, stick-to-the-facts-please, no monkey-business Architect, I'll be heading to Graceland soon to see Mr. Insull's grave. ....and Peirce Anderson, who appears to have had a major role in the "Edison's" design.

SAMUEL INSULL  President, Chicago Edison

But today, we consider the Edison Building's loggia. This design may have been a prototype for Burnham's Oliver Building ca 1910 in Pittsburgh (See Kristen Schaffer's "Daniel Burnham, Visionary and Planner" p154.) The loggia is consists of a cornice, arched supports, pilasters, a transitioning base, and a turn-of- the century curtainwall. Below are detailed views of the arches. (Much of the Cornice has been removed).

Buildings that have been "intensely" designed, (the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, for example) show dimples, dirt, moisture, and bird droppings more easily than less considered structures. The Edison Building suffers this same fate. The facade is in need of restoration. Even Photoshop can't hide the deferred maintenance.

No comments:

Post a Comment