Celebrating some of Chicago’s best and oldest buildings

Let me take you on a journey: in 1966, the Chicago School of Architecture Foundation came together to save Henry Hobson Richardson’s Romanesque 19th century Glessner House from certain demolition. Five decades later, Chicago’s historic preservation movement continues to fight for the Windy City’s most threatened and important architecture.

This month, Chicago celebrated the landmark semicentennial of preservation with a day-long symposium to honour the past 50 years, as well as looking toward the next 50. Historic Preservation at 50: Chicago and the Future of the Movement explored the future of historic preservation and honored the successful preservation efforts of Chicago’s past.

“The Chicago Architecture Foundation inspires people to discover why design matters.”
+ Chicago's Second Presbyterian Church on South Michigan Avenue is a landmark Gothic Revival church and was one of the venues of the symposium

“Preservation has been associated with saving buildings – the bricks and mortar. Yet our field is evolving to focus on the people served by those places and the greater community impact,” said Tyre and Landmarks Illinois President and CEO Bonnie McDonald. “Honoring layers of history and heritage, promoting social and environmental justice, urbanism, crowdsourcing and rightsizing will define preservation in the future. This is a day to begin the potentially difficult, but necessary, changes to remain relevant,” she added.

From skyscrapers, to museums, theaters, bridges, homes, schools, houses of worship and parks, Chicago has long been a testing ground for architectural innovation and experimentation. Below are a five must-see wonders for the next time you’re in the area.

Chicago Theater
The epitome of a classic American movie palace. Constructed in 1921, it was designed by C. W. Rapp and George L. Rapp in their signature Neo-Baroque French-Revival style.

+ The Chicago Theater, originally known as the Balaban and Katz Chicago Theatre, was designed in the hope it would transport visitors to another time and place

Chicago Water Tower
Iconic and ornate. “Its intricate design serves as a perfect illustration of the value and importance the city put on infrastructure and water supply during the late 19th century,” the Chicago Architecture Foundation writes.

+ After the Great Fire of 1871 the Water Tower was a symbol for a city determined to rise from its own ashes

Aqua Tower
Since completion in 2009 the Aqua Tower has earned numerous awards for design excellence.

+ Jeanne Gang and her firm, Studio Gang, designed the box-like structure to have rippling, white concrete balconies, giving the skyscraper a sculptural quality

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
The house at the corner of Forest and Chicago is one of the earliest expressions of one of America’s most significant architects.

+ The modest family home was built when Wright was just 22

Maggie Daley Park
A must-see in downtown Chicago.

+ Maggie Daley Park is a unique outdoor space amidst Chicago's urban landscape
  • Story by Ariel Katz

In Bed With… Giovanna Ferrarezi

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