Their beauty was apparent even as I took pictures of them this past winter against the stark, naked branches of the leafless trees, but taking the tour given by scholar Grahm Balkany of the Gropius in Chicago Coalition Sunday afternoon, and revisitng the Bauhaus-inspired buildings on the Michael Reese campus now embraced by the lush foliage of the landscaping - and especially the stunning parks created by Hideo Sasaki - the full extent of the outrage the city seeks to commit by erasing all trace of the complex to create a tabula rasa for a developer-to-be-named-latter for a billion dollar athletes village for a still-to-be-awarded 2016 Olympics became painfully acute.
We'll be writing more about this later - you can read my original story here - but for now here are a couple of brief excerpts from Balkany's incredibly informed and exhaustive tour of the wonders of the campus:
And here's a photo of the sunscreens on a building where Gropius's involvement, working with Reginald Isaacs, and Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett, is fully documented, the wonderful Kaplan - originally Private - Pavilion, which reimagines the Bauhaus building in Dessau through the roots of Chicago architecture.
Notice how the ribbon windows are actually a derivation of the original Chicago Window, which consisted of a large fixed central pane, with smaller, operable windows on either side. In the Kaplan, the pattern becomes more complex, with the smaller windows repeating in both doubles and quadruples. Although it provides a real sense of animation to the facade, it's anything but arbitrary. The groupings of four center on a drywall partition; those of two appear before structural columns. And the pattern becomes even richer with the windows split into upper and lower strips.
Much more later. For now, time is short. The buildings are already being trashed and vandalized as the interiors are stripped of furnishings. The Illinois State Preservation Agency has initiated a review of the complex's historic status, and one of the ways you can do your part is by writing a letter supporting preservation. Details here.