Monday, August 22, 2011

Chicago Style: Architecture & Design in the Windy City Part I

After nearly a month of travelling through Europe, we were ready to roll our overstuffed carry-ons straight home, but our summer schedule had it differently. One of my closest (and most fashionable) friends from college was getting married in Chicago and our plane tickets were booked months in advance from Charles De Gaulle to O'Hare.

While work trips and visits to friends had brought me to Chicago a half a dozen times before, I had yet to assume a tourist role in the city.  Since my husband and I were already in the sightseeing mode from Europe, I thought I would heed the advice of many friends and take the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise.  Seeing Chicago from its inland waterways is like seeing Chicago for the first time.  Cruising atop a brightly colored river boat dubbed "Chicago's First Lady," with a knowledgeable docent as our guide, we craned our necks toward the sun's glare and took in the windy city's magnificent architecture.

White terra cotta tiles originally decorated the facade of the Wrigley Building
(the Renaissance inspired clock tower is modeled on the Giralda Tower in Seville)

Chicago was incorporated in 1837 and has reinvented itself countless times during its fairly young American history.  As the US grew during the industrial revolution, so did Chicago, and it required modern solutions for buildings and infrastructure. Some of the most innovative urban designs and original skyscrapers were born in Chicago.  Now in the 21st century, Chicago remains at the forefront of architecture and urban planning in sustainability design.

Trump International Hotel and Tower is the tallest structurally all-concrete building
in the world! Residences sit above the hotel's floors.  
That means someone lives on the 92nd floor!

Art deco design reflects against a modernist facade

View from the river of 333 West Wacker Drive 

Willis Tower (left, formerly Sears Tower) was the world's tallest building 
for 24 years after built. The two tubes sticking out the top run through the entire 
structure, supporting the building. This  was the first innovative engineering concept 
known as "bundled tube construction."

Willis Tower

Marina City designed in the 1960s.  The 61-story twin towers with
semicircular balconies are multi-use complexes for residences, shops, hotel, etc.

Tomorrow, Part 2 of this post, will include my exploration of the famous Merchandising Mart and my visit to the 2011 Chicago Design Home.

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