Behind The Scenes

legacy face opensS

Originally uploaded by vincusses.

They are pounding huge caissons into the sidewalk (?) just outside our building as they continue work on The Legacy – a 70-plus story tower they are building next door to our building. I’m trying to suss the structural reason for caissons out there – maybe to transfer loads since they are saving the facades of three landmark district buildings. I was chatting with Mark Igleski about the facades, since his firm is working on them, and he noted that even though the facades date from 1870s – 1970s, the buildings behind are ALL 1870s.

You don’t get buildings older than 1872 in downtown Chicago because it all burned down in 1871. They often have cast iron structural columns, the predecessors to the famous Chicago School steel frame skyscraper of the 1880s.

I never knew about these Wabash Jeweler’s Row buildings – the Kroch & Brentano’s was a classic 1910 Chicago School facade with big windows and cornice and clean brick piers. Turns out, according to Mark, that the entire facade was rebuilt – even changing the number of bays – but the rear of the building remained 1870s. Same with its terra cotta neighbor. Only one building has anything of the 1870s on the facade, and then only two stories, with two top stories screaming 1905 and two lower stories bellowing 1975.

So, another irony on this already-objected-to facadism – the oldest parts of the buildings are going in the dumpster, in order to save the facades. Chalk it up as another reason to avoid facadism.

By the way, it is snowing in Chicago today.


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