Docomomo-chicago.midwest reminds us that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks will be holding a public hearing on Wednesday, September 17th on the proposed designation of the North Federal Savings and Loan Bank, now Diamond Bank, at North Avenue and Clark Street.
The structure was one of a group of sixteen bank buildings proposed for landmarking last year. It is the only modernist design among the group, and the fact that only now is a public hearing being held would indicate that the designation is meeting resistance.
I've written before about Murphy and Naess's 1961 design, and caught some flak from those who didn't think it worth preserving, but now I'm even more convinced it demands protection. The brief describes the building as being influenced by Gordon Bunshaft/SOM's iconic Manufacturers Trust building on Park Avenue in New York. As opposed of the traditional fortress-like models used for banks, North Federal stresses openness and transparency, with the interior of the bank - and its functioning - clearly visible from the street. A floating second-floor mezzanine stresses the container-like aspect of the black steel frame into which the light curtain wall is set and recessed. To call North Federal a jewel box is no understatement. Almost perfectly intact, it is a wholely unique piece of Chicago's architectural heritage.
The hearing will be held Wednesday at 9:30 A.M., at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle, Room 201-A. Further information, including street and e-mail addresses, and phone numbers where expressions of support can be made to commissioners and 42nd ward alderman Vi Daley can be found on the docomomo-chicago.midwest website here.