One of Chicago’s most stunning features is its robust array of architecture on display. A true melting pot of styles and influences, Chicago’s architecture is as dynamic as the many communities that call the city home. Throughout the past two centuries, Chicago has frequently been home to the pioneering work of many architects, including Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Hobson Richardson, and John Mead Howells. From the skyscrapers that compose its iconic skyline to equally iconic residential streets and structures such as Wright’s Prairie Style homes, Chicago architecture is full of notable buildings.
Take one of many architecture tours in Chicago
Chicago is home to tons of architecture, and what better way to make sure you get the most out of your experience than enlisting an expert? The Chicago Architecture Center, a nonprofit organization, can help you understand the importance of design knowledge and throughout history with their walking tours. Boat tours are another fun and relaxing way to experience Chicago architecture, with popular options including Wendella Boats and Shoreline Sightseeing. Fans of these approaches to architecture may want to upgrade their phones so as to have a better camera to capture memories with while on tour. If photography is your aim, there are plenty of AT&T stores in Illinois to help you get the right phone for the job. It’s perhaps the only way to capture the buildings as you boat through the canals or to capture tiny details on a walking tour.
Skyscrapers serve as a major claim to fame in Chicago architecture
One of Chicago’s most noteworthy architectural features are its skyscrapers and with good reason. Built of steel and glass, Chicago’s skyscrapers were some of the first modern skyscrapers in the country, and, as such, are an excellent example of early skyscraper construction by the Chicago School in the 1800s. Two of the most famous skyscrapers in all of Chicago are the John Hancock Center and the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), buildings that are 100 and 110 stories, respectively. Chicago also boasts the first example of tube-frame construction in a skyscraper, illustrated by the work of architect Fazlur Khan on the DeWitt-Chestnut Apartment Building.
The work of Frank Lloyd Wright
Perhaps no architect’s work is as famous in Illinois as that of the renowned Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright, who pioneered Prairie Style architecture, has several buildings of his own design throughout Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. One of his most famous homes, The Robie House, is located in the Hyde Park neighborhood at the University of Chicago and features his distinct stained glass work as well as a variety of rectangular shapes forming the home’s facade. The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio offers another exquisite look into the work of this famed architect. The building, which is located in Oak Park and served as his private residence and studio for two decades, is a laboratory of sorts and showcases the types of techniques and philosophies he experimented with before implementing them elsewhere. Other buildings designed by Wright located across Chicagoland include Bach House and Unity Temple, both strong examples of the architect’s iconic approach to building and design.
Chicago is home to many architectural styles
Unlike some cities, Chicago is home to more than just one or two distinct architectural styles. Thanks to its rich history as a burgeoning city and destination for ambitious architects, many buildings throughout the city are exemplary of a wide range of philosophies and designs. Fans of art deco architecture can find it at the Palmolive Building, while fans of the neo-gothic can view its influences on Tribune Tower. Of course, the commercial style, also known as Chicago School is equally as abundant throughout the city, with buildings such as the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Two-flats are Chicago-style, too
While some wouldn’t consider an apartment building as an example of Chicago architecture, two-flats are, in fact, very “Chicago.” A cross between an apartment and a single-family residence, two-flats converted homes into apartment buildings by expanding up. Many of these two-flats have since been separated to become four-flats or six-flats; however, the point remains that this unique solution to a rush of immigrants from Eastern Europe has stayed emblematic of Chicago architecture. Because many of these buildings were converted in advance of the arrival of residents, they run the gamut of architectural styles, such as Prairie Style and Queen Anne styles.
As you can tell, Chicago has a robust and dynamic history when it comes to architecture. From the iconic Chicago style and its skyscrapers to the famed work of Frank Lloyd Wright, there is plenty of architecture on display in the Windy City, making it an ideal destination for lovers of architecture.