SAIC starts in Chicago

Fall arrives with the excitement of a new school year. Like last year, I am teaching both a First Year Program class for incoming undergraduates, and our graduate students in the Master of Science in Historic Preservation program. SAIC maintains an enviable, nationally recognized position at both levels, and enrollment is up this year. When I advertise our graduate program, I advertise Chicago, because to me the city is the best classroom of all, and that is how I treat my undergraduate course as well, a Community Based Practices Research Studio that I call If These Streets Could Talk. We spend a lot of time walking the city, sketching it, and looking at monuments to history, both purposeful, like the plaque on the Chicago River marking the site of the Eastland disaster, or the Chicago Vietnam Memorial
chgo viet mem09s
as well as the accidental, like the statue of Irv Kupcinet by my frend Preston Jackson. “Kup” is well rendered, but his gesture toward his longtime place of employment – the Chicago Sun-Times building – has morphed into a seeming advertisement for the new Trump Tower, which now occupies the site.
kup trump clsS
Another oddity, occasioned by the otherwise excellent Millenium Park, was the removal of Aaron Montgomery Ward – whose massively unpopular lawsuits helped preserve the lakefront for the public – from the site facing his own Michigan Avenue building to a site a mile to the south. It is still in the park, so it still makes some sense, but not as much as it did before.
bean and michS
Ward figured big in the story of Chicago’s incredible park system, the subject of a tour I led late last week for the museum. We did the whole 30-mile ring around the city, from Grant and Burnham Parks to Jackson, the Midway, Washington, Sherman and the three west parks of Douglas, Garfield and Humboldt before returning to the lakefront and Lincoln Park.
grndmthrs gdn09bS
We punctuated the tour with two modern churches designed by the teacher of Frank Lloyd Wright and one of Wright’s best students, Barry Byrne. In 1922 Byrne designed St. Thomas Apostle church in Hyde Park, the first Catholic church to anticipate the liturgical reforms of Vatican II forty years early. It is a wonderful continuous fold of brick wall wrapping a single, uninterrupted open space and while elements suggest the Gothic or Spanish colonial, Byrne’s contributions and those of sculptors Alfonso Iannelli and Alfeo Faggi are entirely original.
sta entr07S
sta view in
faggi stn falls
We went through the entire boulevard system,which was and is unevenly developed but amazingly complete – as compelling a plan as the 1909 Bunrham and Bennett plan we are celebrating this year. And it is full of gems, like the Humboldt Park boathouse, a Prairie masterpiece by Hugh Garden in a setting so sylvan and lustrous it is hard to believe the Loop is only four miles away.
HP boaths obliqdetailS
In the afternoon after an amazing pizza lunch (chocolate pizza!) at Piece in Wicker Park,we visited Louis Sullivan’s Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, where my friend Fr. John Adamcio, dean of the Cathedral, made us welcome and the afternoon sun made the interior shine.
Holy Trin  s side vwS
Holy Trinty interS
The tour ended at Lincoln Park Conservatory, designed by Joseph Lyman Silsbee, the first architect to employ Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago. This is fall in Chicago, which is always its best season, crisp, clear and comfortable. And exciting, now that school is back in session.
LP conservtyS


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