Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Architecture: The Rookery, Chicago -- "Forceful, Yet Friendly"

The Rookery is one of the great Chicago buildings, and one I particularly enjoy glimpses of while walking in the Loop. Designed by noted architects Burnham & Root, completed around 1886, and with a lobby remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright, it sits squat and imposing, ornate yet serious, along the LaSalle Street canyon. Judith Paine McBrien writes in the Pocket Guide to Chicago Architecture that the Rookery’s “robust Romanesque exterior has a two-story rusticated granite base punctuated by glass and stone columns, a grand arched entry, and intricate terra-cotta ornament.”

From Chicago’s Famous Buildings, edited by Ira J. Bach: “The vigorous contrast of columns and heavy stonework, … as well as the combination of massive walls and large windows and the degree of emphasis at the corners, top, and center of the fa├žade, all help to establish the building’s strong presence. John Root held that the virtues of architecture were similar to the traits of civilized people, and the Rookery can well be viewed this way. It stands there like a stronghearted and cheerful person, forceful, yet friendly.”

[Click on photo to enlarge; another exterior view here; great photos of the lobby here and here; Wikipedia article here]

Richard Balsamo

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