Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Rookery

The Rookery: A Chicago Landmark Building.

The Rookery: A Chicago Landmark Building..
In 1871, The Great Fire ravaged Chicago. While devastating, it launched a building boom and an era of architectural experimentation and advancement that put Chicago at the forefront of progress. The Rookery was one of the resulting masterpieces of commercial architecture.

In 1885, wealthy Boston brothers Peter and Shepherd Brooks leased a city owned lot on the southeast corner of Adam and LaSalle streets. With Chicagoan Owen Aldis they formed "Central Safety Deposit Company". they hired the architectural firm Burnham & Root to design a prestigious office building. The completed structure was revolutionary in several respects.

Metal-Frame and Masonry Walls..

Metal-Frame and Masonry Walls..
At 11 stories tall, Rookery was one of the first buildings to use metal frame with masonry walls on such a large scale. Today it is considered to be the oldest such high-rise in Chicago.

The Grillage Foundation..
Root took lead on the Rookery design and engineered an innovative hybrid structure of load-bearing masonry walls and interior metal-framing which dispersed the vertical weight of the structural columns into the horizontal plane. The technique known as a "grillage foundation", was revolutionary at the time and helped to establish the commercial acceptance of the skyscraper. The innovative technique allowed for the use of large expanses of glass, which gave access to the unprecedented amount of light and air.

The Light Court..

The Light Court..
Arguably the Rookery's most impressive features are the Light Well and the Light Court. Inside the building, a central well provides light to the offices. At the bottom of the central light well is the Light Court. A wrought and cast iron frame creates a bird-cage-like feel. In 1992, a skylight was installed at the roof level to protect the light court’s ceiling and the light well..
# For more on the Light Court, click here ..

The Oriel Staircase..

The Oriel Staircase..
The Oriel Staircase, runs down from floor 12 to 2, jutting out of the main building, projecting into the light well. It does not reach the ground. The intricate repeated patterns and spiralling nature of the steps are absolutely beautiful. In 1931, William Drummond, made some changes by adding a part to the lowest fight of the staircase, that starts at the second floor and protrudes into the light court. The upper part of the staircase is still Root's.
# For more on the Oriel Staircase, click here..

The Exterior Motifs..

The Exterior Motifs..
Moorish, Romanesque Commercial, Indian, Venetian, Arabian, Islamic, Byzantine: all these words have been used to describe the Rookery's exterior motifs. Some critics said that the styles lacked unity, but others feel that the repeating patterns were an interpretative of American culture, reflecting a spirit of conquest..
# For more on Exterior Motifs.. click here..

The Rookery: Reflections on the Name..

The Rookery: Reflections on the Name..
The Rookery is rather an odd name for such a beautiful building. Some say the name comes from the crows that once lived on the walls of the previous building. Some say it comes from the pigeons.. Whatever the origin, the name stuck..
# For more on the name "The Rookery", click here..

Renovation by Frank Llyod Wright in 1905..

Renovation by Frank Llyod Wright in 1905..
Wright removed many of the iron and terra cotta detailing on the central staircase, balconies and walls, and replaced them with strong geometric patterns. he covered many of the original decorative panels with marbles..
# For more on the renovation by Frank Llyod Wright, click here..

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Chandeliers and Planters - Renovations by Frank Llyod Wright in 1905..
In his 1905 renovations, Wright removed the fancy electroliers that once flanked the central staircase and in it's place put the planters. He added bronze chandeliers with prismatic glass that still hang there today.
# For more on, Chandeliers & Planters - Renovation by Frank Llyod Wright, click here..

Renovation by William Drummond in 1931..

Renovation by William Drummond in 1931..
William Drummond, made some changes in the Oriel Staircase by John Wellborn Root. He added a part of the lowest fight of the staircase, that started at the second floor and protruded into the light court. The upper part of the staircase is still Roots.
# For more on, Renovation by William Drummond, click here..

Elevators: Renovation by William Drummond in 1931..

Elevators: Renovation by William Drummond in 1931..
William Drummond brought changes in the elevators. He enclosed the elevator doors with solid bronze and decorate them with Art Deco birds, flora and fauna..
# For more on Elevator flora and fauna, click here..

Chicago Landmark..

The plaque reads..
Chicago Landmark..
Rookery Building
Burnham & Root, architects
Its powerful exterior softened by John Roots lively ornamentation, the Rookery typifies the 1880's lingering picturesque attitude towards commercial architecture. A transitional structure in the evolution of modern architecture, it employs both masonry wall-bearing and skeletal frame construction techniques.
Designated a Chicago landmark on July 5, 1972,
by the City Council of Chicago
Richard J. Daley, Mayor
Commission on Chicago
Historical and Architectural Landmarks..

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The Rookery: Preservation Touchstone..
In 1988, L. Thomas Baldwin III purchased The Rookery and set out to completely restore the landmark by preserving it's historic grandeur, while also adapting to modern day technologies. In the process, Root's original ironwork and original mosaic fragments were discovered. A sample of these have been left open for visitors to compare. Burnham & Root's offices were restored too, and now is "Burnham Library..
For more on 1980's restoration.. click here..

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The Burnham Library..
When the Rookery was completed in 1888, Burnham & Root move their offices to the building's 11th floor The office of Daniel Burnham and John Root is now the Burnham Library. It is here that the plans for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition took place in 1890.
# For more on the Burnham Library, click here..

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The Rookery: Tracking the Y-symbol..
Check out the Y-symbol at the Rookery.. click here....


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