The City as Catalyst for Architectural Speculation

Edited by Alexander Eisenschmidt and Jonathan Mekinda


Edited by Alexander Eisenschmidt and Jonathan Mekinda

Distributed for Park Books

192 pages | 90 color plates, 50 halftones | 8 1/8 x 11 | © 2013
Cloth $39.00 ISBN: 9783906027159 Published January 2014 Not for sale in the United Kingdom or Europe
Chicago has long captured the global imagination as a place of tall, shining buildings rising from the fog, the playground for many of architecture’s greats—from Mies van der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright—and a surprising epicenter for modern construction and building techniques. In this beautifully illustrated volume, Alexander Eisenschmidt and Jonathan Mekinda have brought together a diverse pool of curators, artists, architects, historians, critics, and theorists to produce a multifarious portrait of the Second City.

Looking at events as far back as the 1933 exhibition “Early Modern Architecture in Chicago,” Chicagoisms is remarkable for the breadth of its topics and the depth of its essays. From more abstract ventures like tracking the boom-and-bust cycle of Chicago’s commitment to architecture and the influence of the Chicago grid system of Mies van der Rohe, to more straightforward studies of the “Americanization” of Berlin, the editors have chosen essays that convey the complex and varied history and culture of Chicago’s architecture. More than simply an architectural biography of the city, Chicagoisms shows Chicago to have an important role as a catalyst for international development and pinpoints its remarkable influence around the world. The contributors explore topics as diverse as Daniel Burnham’s vision and OMA’s  student center for the Illinois Institute of Technology, and show them to all be indelibly products of Chicago. This volume is published to coincide with the exhibition Chicagoisms: The City as Catalyst for Architectural Speculation opening at the Art Institute of Chicago, opening in June 2013.



Stanley Tigerman


Palace of Culture – Auditorium Building, Adler & Sullivan, 1889

Robert Bruegmann


Self-Equilibrating Spectacle – Ferris Wheel, George W. G. Ferris, 1893

William F. Baker


Introduction : Chicago as Idea

Alexander Eisenschmidt and Jonathan Mekinda


Upstream – Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Isham Randolph and the Sanitary District of Chicago, 1900

Sandy Isenstadt


Accelerated Grid – Plan of Chicago,

Daniel H. Burnham and Edward H. Bennett, 1909

Winy Maas


That ‘70’s Show

Penelope Dean


The Portfolio as Architectural Material – Wasmuth Folio, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1910

Brett Steele


Perverted Monument – Chicago Tribune Tower Project, Adolf Loos, 1922

Sam Jacob


Alvin Boyarsky’s Chicago-London Axis:

An Architecture Critic in the City of Strangers

Igor Marjanović


The Big Gizmo – Dymaxion House at Marshall Field’s Department Store,

Buckminster Fuller, 1929

Bart Lootsma


Chicago Frame as Picture Frame – 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments,

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1951

Barry Bergdoll


The Rational, International Occult:

Konrad Wachsmann

And the Experimental Digitization of Architecture

John Harwood


Automatic Urbanism – Circle Interchange,

Illinois Department of Transportation, 1962

Alexander Eisenschmidt


Stacked Suburbia – Marina City, Bertrand Goldberg, 1967

David J. Lewis


Banham’s Mieses

Mark Linder


American Aesthetic – John Hancock Center, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1970

Kazys Varnelis


Titanic Rising – The Titanic, Stanley Tigerman, 1978

Aaron Betsky


Megalopolis is Everywhere

Albert Pope


Folding Before Digital – Stranded Sears Tower, Greg Lynn, 1992

Mirko Zardini


Thick Thin- IIT McCormick Tribune Campus Center, OMA, 2003

Sarah Whiting


American Modern:

The Chicago School and the International Style

At New York’s Museum of  Modern Art

Joanna Merwood-Salisbury


Chicago Style – Hyde Park Art Center, Garofalo Architects, 2006

Ellen D. Grimes


Absorbing Attention – Cloud Gate, Anish Kapoor, 2006

Sylvia Lavin


Admiration and Apprehension of the American Metropolis: European Responses to the Plan of Chicago

David H. Haney


A Tale of Two Pavilions – Burnham Centennial Pavilion, UN Studio, 2009

Mark Lee


Neither Duck Nor Shed – Aqua Tower, Studio Gang Architects, 2010

Andres Lepik


No Failure Too Great

Alexander Eisenschmidt


Waterworld – Free Water District, UrbanLab, 2011

John McMorrough


Generative Atmosphere – Environmental Typologies, Weathers, 2013

Pedro Gadanho




Illustration Credits


Review Quotes
“One of the freshest recent books on architecture in Chicago. . . . Impressions of Chicago are colored by personalities whose contributions were great but which overshadow the complexities and realities of the city. Many histories repeat these myths and simplifications, but this great book thankfully goes the opposite route, dismantling some of those myths and putting Chicago in an international context that shines a light on its influences.”
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