Smart as Chicago: The Auditorium Building

front doorThe bronze may originally have not been intended to oxidize, but here the matte green patina works perfectly to show the beautiful design subtlety Sullivan was notorious for. Look at the use of rusticated and polished stone together.

I was only in Chicago a few days. I spent one morning walking around downtown so I could see a few things before heading to the Art Institute. The difference to me in NYC and Chi is that, one is always updating and the other one know when to leave things alone. So Chicago has a lot of “vintage” buildings which have been left alone.

composite doorway2

DSC_0563The use of this arch is repeated several times, and from the photos of the Auditorium I did not get to see, this is where the arch will culminate.

Although somewhat shabby in sections, all of the lobby and outside are beautifully chic for a 100+ building. Now Roosevelt University, the building has many elements intact. From what I have read, the original building was planned, not in the rusticated gray granite and limestone, but terra cotta. This might explain the differences in color shift, from the cool exterior, to the warmth of bieges, yellows, browns from what I saw  in the interior.

rusticated stoneThere was a reference to Art Nouveau, but the exterior strikes me as more Romanesque. I wonder if the so highly polished half column is original, as it is so unlike the rusticated stone.

lobby composite2Nonetheless, this old Adler and Sulllivan design gives you much to smile about. This building could be an encyclopedia for engineering and aesthetics in architecture. It is fascinating to read about the rigors of the foundation and how some actual sinking occured. Excuse my dumbness on this issue, architecture is not my content area. Go the the Wikipedia article to see the elevations and blueprints, which let’s face it, how often do we get to see that?

floors 2Fascinating to see all these elements together: dappled stone, porcelain mosaic, polished wood, glass, and textured plaster held largely together by color. Even as the forms work against each other (photos above these), color holds them in position!

Wright might have worked on parts of this, having been employed by Adler and Sullivan at that time. Recently, I read, his dismissal was not so much of the moonlighting, but charges of plagarism (?) of some of the Adler and Sullivan work in his independent work. Being somewhat of an affectionado of Wright, but knowing his ego, one sees sylistic echoes in some of the Oak Park houses (i.e. – Moore-Dugal Residence). Far be it for an idiot like me to criticize an icon!

restaurant stained glass windows2There are lobby displays of the beautiful Healy and Millet stained glass used in the restaurant.

landmark sign and outside comp

I did not venture beyond this point, the guards had told me only the first floor, so I shot what I could. Some day I hope to see the auditorium. It was designed to supply the masses with, what else?, opera and ballet. Both hightailed it to their own setting. Luckily Chicago is not like NYC and didn’t blow up the building for some Trump building.

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2 Responses to “Smart as Chicago: The Auditorium Building”

  1. Lou Camilotto Says:

    I live in Lafayette, Indiana. My church use to be called Second Presbyterian Church corner of 7th and Columbia Sts in downtown Lafayette. I am doing a study of our stain glass windows which came form Healey Millet. Do you happen to have any information on these windows of my church? Or do you know where I can acquire information for my church. Today, my church in called Central Presbyterian, but it was named Second Presbyterian Church when it was built in 1894-95. thank you. Lou

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