Thursday, March 09, 2006

Historic Chicago Vista Trumped Out

Click here for a larger view.
Things change. The mostly unlamented modernistic Sun-Times Building is now long gone, along with its secluded oasis garden, and the 1,362-foot-high Trump Tower is now rising on the site. The new building, a sleek steel-and-glass edifice from SOM's Adrian Smith, has its own charms, and will be a ready-made landmark on the Chicago skyline when it's completed in 2008.

But with change, however, things get broken, and the rise of the new tower brings the loss of one of Chicago's great urban vistas: the view down Wabash Avenue to the the high, colonnaded dome of Thielbar and Fugard's 1927 neo-classical Jewelers Building. It's probably as close as we're ever going to get to the view down Congress, towards an almost distressing phallic new City Hall at Halsted, as proposed by Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago and illustrated in a series of famous renderings by Jules Guerin.

Because of the way Wabash makes a diagonal shift to the west just before it hits the river, the site of Trump's new building actually crosses the street's path, and you can already see in the tall crane and low stumps of the first pours of the concrete columns exactly how the structure will completely obliterate the view of the Jewelers Building and subsume it's role as Wabash's visual terminus. Not necessarily bad, but certainly a very different character. Take a final look at the current view while you still have the chance.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy the view you wrote about everyday coming home from work and will miss it. I'm getting a bit nervous about how huge the Trump will be. At 1 floor looking from IBM plaza it is already massive. Thanks for your site, I check it every AM to determine which architecture events are happening that day.

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way as well when the residential tower on the west bank of the river across from the apparel center went up a few years ago (RiverBend?). Before it was built, the east west stretch of wacker was a metaphor for the city and it's history. It connected the openess of the lake on the east (easy water transport), with the vastness of the agricultural heartland and the west on the other. Chicago was born as a conduit to move goods from one to the other. The open expanse of sky at either end of a street lined with skyscrapers and the worlds largest commercial building represented that idea quite well.