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The City as Catalyst for Architectural Speculation

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.

192 pages | 90 color plates, 50 halftones | 8 1/8 x 11 | © 2013

Architecture: American Architecture

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β€œOne 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.”


Table of Contents


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


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