It was if a black-and-white photograph had somehow been inserted into the normal color cityscape.
Last night, the century-old warehouse in Chicago's Central Manufacturing District was destroyed in a 5-alarm blaze that had 170 firefighters - a third of the city's entire on-duty contingent - battling in near-zero degree temperatures.
With the return of daylight, the brick and terra cotta facades had been abstracted inside a desaturating, icy cocoon of ice, fire hose streams freeze-sculpted as they sprayed down the building . . .
The strange object revealed by morning looks like an ice sculpture so brittle a few firm taps could shatter it into a million shards.
More probably, the building at 3737 South Ashland will soon be visited by a small army of professionals, manning bulldozers, cranes and wrecking balls.
In a few weeks, the macabre carcass will vanish. An anchoring presence for over a hundred years, smashed into easily transportable piles of anonymous atoms of debris, it will be as if it never existed.
. . . writings on architecture have appeared in the Chicago Reader, Metropolis Magazine, the Harvard Design Magazine, and the backs of discarded gum wrappers.
We reserve the right to delete posts that we judge spamatory, defamatory or unnecessarily obscene. If you prefer to berate me personally, email me here.