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Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934$
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Thomas Leslie

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037542

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037542.001.0001

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Steel, Light, and Style: The Concealed Frame, 1905–1918

Steel, Light, and Style: The Concealed Frame, 1905–1918

(p.125) Chapter 7 Steel, Light, and Style: The Concealed Frame, 1905–1918
Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934

Thomas Leslie

University of Illinois Press

This chapter describes major structures built from 1905 to 1918, many of which used more solid curtain walls that reflected the ability of electric lighting and mechanical ventilation to replace thermally inefficient (and increasingly expensive) plate glass windows. Tenants gradually abandoned older buildings with slower elevators, smaller offices, and darker corridors for newer, more efficient buildings. “Old Chicago is being torn down,” one journalist reported in 1910, “and new Chicago erected in its place.” The Calumet, first Insurance Exchange (at LaSalle and Adams), Rand–McNally, and the Opera House—all major achievements in the 1880s—were demolished between 1910 and 1913. They were replaced by buildings aimed at tenants seeking greater efficiency, comfort, and pretense. The combined push of material conditions and pull of aesthetic desire influenced the symmetrical compositions, massive solid appearances, and antique ornamental choices for buildings, eventually precipitating a dominant design formula that would inform skyscrapers for a generation.

Keywords:   Chicago, building construction, curtain walls, plate glass windows

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