“Chicago Modern: More than Mies” is here!
by Chris Morris, Chicago Field Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Chicago is a city that has long been known for architectural innovation. For over a century it’s been the home to some of the most prominent figures on the architecture scene and their canonical buildings. And when people think of Chicago’s Modern architecture, they most often think of Mies van der Rohe. His glass and steel boxes (the Federal Center, the IIT Campus, 860-880 Lake Shore Drive) came to define “Modern” architecture and spawned a generation of followers and imitators–which means that Mies and his work have tended to dominate any discussion of Chicago’s modern heritage.
But we’re here to change that. The current threat to Bertrand Goldberg’s incredible 1975 Prentice Women’s Hospital highlights the fact that an entire category of modern architecture from the 1960s and 70s in Chicago is largely unknown. These beautiful, innovative, groundbreaking designs responded to and expanded upon the Miesian glass and steel boxes, creating buildings that were more fluid, sculptural, and theatrical. But because these buildings are now 40-50 years old, they are in danger of being lost before they can get the recognition they deserve.
The Save Prentice Coalition (me and my friends at Landmarks Illinois, Preservation Chicago, and docomomo_midwest) decided it was time to start a serious conversation about the “other” Modern architecture in Chicago. We all know Mies and we all love his work, but Chicago Modern is more than Mies.
The purpose of this blog is to give people a place to share information about some of Chicago’s most interesting and beautiful modern architecture. It also will serve as the home to information about Prentice Women’s Hospital and our efforts to save it from destruction at the hands of Northwestern University. So follow the blog, share your ideas, and let us know what you think about Chicago Modern. You can start by taking this poll about Bertrand Goldberg: