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Bldg. 51 / Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Bldg. 51

  • i spent the greater part of my day traversing congress theater's facade scaffolding photo-documenting the largely off-white colored italian renaissance style terra cotta, anchored firmly against the structure's steel skeleton. my mind's eye was in perpetual awe of the skillfully executed design elements packaged into each and every terra cotta panel contributing to the collection of richly ornamented assemblages found throughout the distinctive facade. i'm still actively exploring and familiarizing myself with the theater's exterior elements, but there comes a point where i had to force myself to implement a more systematic approach, where i made notes identifying the full...
  • one of the most visually striking and architecturally distinctive features within notable architect henry i. cobb's chicago athletic association building (1893) is the highly detailed, tracery-laden "drooping tip" cast plaster ceiling, comprised of interlocking gridded panels reinforced with metal mesh cones and illuminated with single incandescent "bare bulb" lights accentuating the tips. the ornamental ceiling (reconstructed in 2015) is located on the building's 8th floor, in the spacious (6400 sq. feet) dining room, which like the reading room on the 2nd floor, was finished with quartered oak wood doors, columns, paneling and three gargantuan fireplace mantles replete with intricately carved cabinet...
  • a largely intact and well-maintained 19th century lincoln park wood-frame workers cottage on was handed the death sentence on february 14th, 2017. if the cottage was built in 1864 as the custom plaque indicates (further research pending), then we are dealing with the loss of a pre-fire cottage. i will be moving my mountain of a schedule to run over there and photograph it further before its reduced to rubble. images courtesy of eric j. nordstrom and the bldg. 51 photo archive:   
  • demolition of the former "mega mall" is nearly complete, with only a single story of the buick sales building (1921) still standing. the figural terra cotta ornament adorning the two entrances will be extracted in the next few days. the former two-story buck automobile showroom (buick sales building) was designed by notable chicago architect clarence hatzfeld, and built in 1921 by charles lange, costing approximately 250,000 dollars when completed. with the exception of the two entrances, nearly all of the mottled tan colored terra cotta (fabricated by the american terra cotta company) was plucked off and discarded when the building coalesced into "mega mall...
  • i was in desperate need of a "break" from staring at a computer screen for hours on end while editing a seemingly unending folder of images from a rapp & rapp's central park theater (1917) photographic study for an upcoming post. i decided to just get in my car and drive - making my way towards the nellie a. black hospital building (1932) demolition site, where i still feel tremendous guilt for not documenting its death the way i do with so many other structures. i haven't seen anything surface thus far, so i doubt a thorough visual record was made, and that's...
  • four historically important bldg. 51 museum artifacts rescued from chicago buildings demolition or ill-sighted alteration: [caption id="attachment_27986" align="alignleft" width="3427"] extraordinarily rare and completely intact matching set of late nineteenth century ornamental cast brass electrolier sconces designed by louis h. sullivan for the c. 1894 chicago stock exchange building. the sconces were removed from the trading room and/or surrounding corridors around 1908 when the stock exchange moved out of the building. the architectural firm of frost and granger were quickly brought on board to renovate the trading room space in preparation for its new tenant, the foreman bank. sometime during the 1908...
  • i've noticed more and more cold-rolled steel or iron porcelain enameled advertising signs being dug from both commercial and residential excavation sites across chicago over the past few months. nearly all of the signs unearthed are heavily corroded with the polychromed enameled finish faded, but intact enough to identify the product or service and approximate date the sign was fabricated. the burdick enamel sign company was one of chicago's earliest sign makers that manufactured both "stock" and customized porcelain enameled signage. [caption id="attachment_27961" align="alignleft" width="1200"] period photo courtesy of john chuckman.[/caption] vitreous or "porcelain enameled" exterior building advertising signs first appeared during...
  • a sizable collection of all original illuminated interior wall-mount lobby bronze meta elevator "signal lanterns" or indicators were salvaged from the historically important, towering 38-story graham, anderson, probst, white-designed foreman-national bank building during a nearly completed overhaul of the "lasalle canyon" skyscraper's interior. the extant foreman state national bank building is composed of a 38-story central tower, flanked by two 22-story sections. the building’s five story base is clad in gray granite and the floors above are of indiana limestone with dark-colored, ornamental terra cotta spandrels. the facades are detailed with low-relief, art deco ornament and verticality is enhanced through recessed...
  • with more and more projects piling up, including taking over a thousand images of the congress theater (completed 1926, fridstein & company, architects) the other day before it undergoes an extensive rehabilitation this spring, i've decided to simply begin posting images of central park theater's cavernous interior (note: the ornamental terra cotta exterior and hub electric lightig system were covered in a previous blog entry last week) when time permits. i struggle immensely with hastily assembling posts, but i feel my back is against the wall. the following images were taken back in january, on a dreary afternoon day, where my assistant and i...
  • with "unearthing chicago" (a bldg. 51 publication) off to the printers, i'm eager to revisit a book project i've had on the back-burner far too long. after nearly 5 years now, spent documenting the henry ives cobb-designed chicago athletic association building (1893) during its remarkable rebirth through its historically sensitive restoration, i feel obligated to finally put together a book containing images, notes, and stories i've collected and posted about in blog posts. i managed to shoot well over ten thousand images, capturing each and every interior and exterior architectural detail along with any and all alterations made during the course of the...

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