Thursday, December 10, 2009

DANIEL BURNHAM. The Edison Building. The Pride of Lions

This is the day that I've decided to start the book "Peirce Anderson in Chicago." Anderson was Burnham's lead designer after 1908, and the design partner at Graham Anderson Probst and White until his death. The idea has been churning for some time, but strangely enough, or proudly, it is the comparison of these three lions that has posed the questions that need to be answered. From Marshall Field and Company (1902) through the Illinois Merchant's Bank (1924) changes, methodical and small brought Peirce Anderson to his position as one Chicago's most influential 20th Century Architects.

Piano Nobile. Agora. Two windows per bay. Three windows per bay. Horizontal window emphasis. Vertical. Ornate stone. Smoothe. Solid Cornice. Balustrade. Each explored and analyzed. All attempted. And shown below: the Lions. At the Edison Building the ring is suspended from an open mouth. At People's Gas the ring is tightly clenched. At the Continental and Commercial National Bank, there is no lion's ring. These are not accidents.

The progression shows the same care as a Mies corner, modified almost imperceptibly from the Federal Center to the IBM Building. Just in a different, more distant language. One we may no longer understand. 


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